Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: HC Kometa Brno (Czech Extraliga)
Martin Necas enters the draft coming off an impressive 2016-17 season in the Czech Republic's top league, posting seven goals and 15 points in 41 regular season games before hitting a playoff crescendo with four goals in 10 outings.
A nimble, slippery forward with explosive acceleration and impressive four-way mobility, Necas represents one of the most compelling offensive prospects when he hits open ice.
Draftniks who studied the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, where Necas produced one goal and three points in five contests, quickly learned two things.
First, Necas has adequate defensive zone awareness. He is probably not a Selke candidate down the road, but he certainly knows where to be and smartly works to get the puck.
Second, Necas has a mental-processing speed that rivals his quick hands and feet. He can absolutely motor with the puck, getting to top speed rather quickly, and his ability to gain separation and survey the action makes him a consistent threat from the outside due to his game-breaking playmaking skills.
Scouts will tell you it's not about how big you are. It's about how big you play. While Necas impresses in space, he will also fearlessly enter the notorious "dirty areas" to make a play.
While showing the right mindset against grown men this past season was clearly a good sign, the next step will be achieving a greater success rate when he does engage those high-traffic zones. This, of course, will be an expected outcome once he adds the strength required to become an impact player in the world's best league.
Necas looks to bring what virtually every club needs to compete in the NHL's new speed-based model. The fact that he's already competing against grown men has accelerated his development, putting him on a fast track to become a lightning-quick North American forward sooner than many might realize.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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