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Wings GM Holland discusses team's recent signing, defenseman Libor Sulak

Czech Republic native set to play in Finnish Elite League next season

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

GRAND RAPIDS - The Red Wings hope that a move that they made earlier this week could bear fruit in the not-too-distant future.

This past week the team signed Czech defenseman Libor Sulak to a two-year entry-level contract, a player general manager Ken Holland saw at the recent IIHF men's world championship in Europe.

"Jiri Fischer was involved with the Czech team and there was two or three players that we were looking at on that team," Holland said during the first intermission of the Grand Rapids Griffins-San Jose Barracuda game Friday at Van Andel Arena. "He's 23 years of age. He's a real good skater. He's already signed a contract to play in Finland.

"We're going to bring him over to the development camp in July and then we'll assess whether we want to bring him over to the main camp or to let him go to Finland and have another year of development. But Fisch and I think he's a player that has a chance to be an NHL defenseman. He needs more time, more experience to learn to play his position."

Sulak has spent the last two seasons with Orli Znojmo, a Czech team that competes in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Austria. Sulak was the rookie of the year in 2016, collecting six goals among 18 points in 62 games.

This past season, Sulak was fourth on the team with 28 points (10-18-28) and had a team-best plus-19 rating.

Sulak also competed for Team Czech Republic in the world championships and had one assist in two games.

"He's now signed a contract to play with Lahti in the Finnish League. It's a men's league," Holland said. "One or two teams in the Czech League had offered him a contract. He made a decision to go to the Finnish League. For a year, he's best off to take a step up to play in another league. To try to go from the Austrian League to the National Hockey League, it's a massive jump.

"I like that he's 6-3. I like that he can skate. I like that he continues to improve. Obviously, Jiri Fischer knows him as a person, what makes him tick. It's an entry-level contract, a two-year contact. It's not like there's a ton of risk. We feel like there's the potential for some upside that he could play in the National Hockey League."

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