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CHICAGO - Much was speculated about what the Carolina Hurricanes would do with their 12th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and ultimately, they retained the selection to draft center Martin Necas from the Czech Republic.
As it turns out, it's a selection that, hockey aside, made perfect sense. Not only is "Necas" an anagram for Canes, but his last name means "bad weather" in Czech.
"Yeah, bad weather," he confirmed with a laugh. "Almost like a hurricane."
Video: #CanesDraft: Martin Necas Media Availability
Pure excitement was evident on Necas' face as he faced the media in Chicago for the first time as the newest member of the Hurricanes' organization.
"It's one of the best moments of my life," he said. "I'm really glad to be here and be in a great organization like Carolina."
"We think we got a big, skilled centerman. He can skate and make plays. He plays with a little bit of an edge," Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis said. "For us, we're excited to get him, and we had him higher on our list. I think as he develops he'll be a real good piece for our organization going forward."
Necas, 18, skated for HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic's top league in the 2016-17 season. With seven goals and eight assists in 41 regular-season games and four goals in 10 playoff games, Necas helped his team capture its first Czech Extraliga championship.
The year prior with Brno's under-18 club, Necas posted 30 points (9g, 21a) in 18 regular-season games and 15 points (4g, 11a) in 10 playoff games to lead his team to an under-18 title.
In international play, Necas represented the Czech Republic at the 2017 World Junior Championship and the 2016 U-18 World Championship. He also captained the Czech Republic to its first gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in 2016.
Video: Hurricanes draft F Martin Necas No. 12
The 6-foot-1, 178-pound center is a self-described "typical playmaker." The NHL's Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb says Necas "is a very good skater with acceleration and speed," noting that he "creates scoring opportunities with his surprising moves and high skill level."
"I like to play a two-way game. I think I am a very good skater," Necas said. "I need to work on my strength and being stronger."
Head European scout Robert Kron had an influential hand in scouting and ultimately drafting Necas.
"Robert works hard for us and spends a lot of time over in Europe. It was great that it fell for him to get one of the guys he knows really well," Francis said. "He thinks a lot of this guy, knows him in talking to him and feels real comfortable that we have a character guy as well as a good hockey player."
For his part, Necas said he wasn't sure when his name would be called in the draft. But he was certainly happy to hear it at 12.
"I had a very good interview with [Carolina], but it's a little bit of a lottery for players," he said. "You don't know which team will pick you, but I'm really glad for Carolina."
Being drafted into the NHL was one dream for Necas. That has been realized. The next dream? Playing in the NHL, something he said he hopes he can accomplish in the near future.
"The NHL Is the best league in the world," he said. "I am going to work hard every day. I want to be in the NHL."
"This guy has put on some weight and probably needs to put on some more weight and grow a little bit there," Francis said. "But with his skill and smarts, you don't bet against guys like that."