The Athletic’s Max Bultman profiles Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak today, and we’ll take a look at his Sulak profile to discuss both players’ potential:
The question was posted to Martin: What are the predictive traits to look for from an AHL defenseman?
“They don’t make mistakes,” Martin said immediately. “You go to an OHL game and there’s mistakes all over the ice. The puck may not even end up on the goal — like it might not even be a scoring chance. Down here, a lot of times it is a scoring chance. In the NHL it’s in the net. So I think that’s the biggest adjustment for the defensemen — and especially guys that have offensive parts to their game. They might not be used to defending.
“I think Vili (Saarijarvi) has done a really good job this year. He was obviously a high-end point guy in the OHL. I think he’s done a really good job this year of figuring out, ‘I gotta play D first and then the rest will come.’ And I think he’s balanced that well, and so has Fil. I think that would be Libor’s adjustment, because it’s quicker, it’s faster, the guys are stronger up here. Plays happen differently.”
Martin also pointed out that, since the players are better at the AHL level, there are also some benefits for a defenseman. For one, you can rely more on your defensive partner being in the right spot. For some, he said, it can be easier to play at this level, for that reason.
“But they also have to balance the strengths of their game with the vulnerabilities that you have here when you’re young and you’re not used to it,” he said.