Stars' Faksa is initial 2012 first rounder to sign
Mike G. Morreale
Dallas Stars center Radek Faksa on Friday became the first player from the 2012 NHL Draft class to sign a three-year, entry-level contract.
Faksa, selected with the 13th pick of the draft by the Stars, was the first Czech-born player to be chosen in the first round since Jakub Voracek was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007.
Prior to his first season with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12, Kitchener coach Steve Spott asked his first-year import to jot down the number of goals he thought he would score as a rookie with the team. Faksa predicted 15, but Spott had other plans.
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"I had 15 goals before the season but [Spott] crossed that out and put 25," Faksa told NHL.com.
Faksa finished with 29 goals and 37 assists in 62 regular-season games. Both totals were more than any other first-year player in the OHL. He was No. 7 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the draft.
"I think the transition that Radek has made has been a little bit easier for him," Spott said. "I think he plays a North American-style of game. He's physical, and willing to go into the dirty areas to score. Defensively, he has a real good battle level so I think that's why he's been able to make this transition [to North America] rather smoothly."
Faksa had two goals in six games during the Czech Republic's fifth-place finish at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Alberta. He also represented the Czech Republic at the 2011 World Under-18 Championship.
Faksa, winner of the showdown breakaway challenge at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects skills competition, has compared his style of play to San Jose's Martin Havlat.
"I like to protect the puck and play hard," he said.
"He's stepped into Kitchener and has been a very consistent contributor to that team," NHL Director of Central Scouting, Dan Marr, told NHL.com during last season. "His work ethic stands out, his hockey sense is exceptional and his puck skills and the way he processes the game at top speed is impressive. We're projecting, moving forward, that this guy has the potential to be a top six in the NHL and center one of the top two lines."
Faksa lived in a hotel for five years as a player coming through the ranks of Czech club team Trinec. He had 19 goals and 30 assists with Trinec's Under-18.
"He's been through a lot. He taught himself English while living in Kitchener," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. "He's just a remarkable kid, and a good player to boot."
While many expect Faksa to be back with Kitchener for the 2012-13 season, his signing leaves open the possibility that he sticks in the NHL.