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Czeching out! You must be kidding me!

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2015 IIHF World Junior Championship - Quarterfinal - Czech Republic v Slovakia
You must be kidding me Chia!
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

A few years ago the Oilers took Miroslav Svoboda with a 7th round pick. At the time I thought they were nuts as I didn’t think he was a: the best Czech still available and b: the best Czech goalie still available. I recall thinking it was a wasted pick and I’m pretty sure I read Svoboda himself didn’t realize he’d been drafted.

Then something happened. 2 years ago I started reading Miro’s name more and more in Czech news. He was moving up the ranks in the Extraliga (Czech league, 3rd or 4th best league in Europe depending who you ask). This season, Miro became a bonafide star in the Czech league. He had phenomenal stats and led his team to the Semi Finals.

On my season wrap up I tried my hardest to come up with positive things to say about the Oiler’s and one of them was this:

I do feel Miroslav Svoboda could end up being a good goalie in North America. Hoping we get him to the AHL next season or that he signs in the KHL. He had a very strong season and could end up being a late round steal.

https://www.coppernblue.com/2018/4/8/17212478/well-that-was-awful

The Oiler’s have an absolutely abysmal record of a: developing goalies and b: getting good NHL players after Round 1. This guy may have actually been both! A late round steal who might end up being a good goalie in the NHL in a few years.

I was actually really curious to see what would happen with him. My guess was that he either went to the KHL (which would be great for him to develop and see if he is as good as I think he might be) or the AHL (which would also be great for him). Well, good news! He is signed for 2 more years and is one step closer to achieving his unlikely NHL dream ....

https://www.nhl.com/predators/news/nashville-predators-sign-goaltender-miroslav-svoboda/c-298267218

with the Nashville Predators who signed him today. I read the Czech article about this:

http://www.hokej.cz/svoboda-si-splnil-sen-brankar-plzne-podepsal-smlouvu-s-nashvillem/5030554

It sounds to me like there was some NHL interest in him. His agent is Alan Walsh and he mentioned several teams were looking at his services but the Oil let him walk.

So he’s good enough for perennial goalie factory Nashville but not the Oil?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Miroslav Svoboda is winning the Calder or the Vezina next season. It is entirely possible he is no better than the Extraliga and flames out in the KHL or AHL next season.

However, as of right now, we have very few good goalie prospects and even fewer good NHL goalies. In fact, we are trying very hard to persuade a KHL goalie to be our NHL backup. I’ve noted a few times that I can’t think of many KHL goalies in the last 5 years that have come directly to the NHL and made an impact right away.

Is Svoboda the next Cam Talbot? I don’t know.

Is Svoboda a better prospect than Laurent Broisoit? In my humble opinion, yes.

Is Svoboda a better long term solution than Al Montoya? Again, in my opinion yes.

We had him. He was free. He was ours. We let him walk to Nashville who has tremendous goaltending depth and at a time when we have virtually no guarantees going into next season.

On a good note, since I wasn’t planning on writing anything today, the Czechs beat Canada at the U18’s. This particular matchup was beyond unfair as Canada was a massive favourite. Somehow, the Czechs won 2-1 to a far superior team and have moved onto the Semi’s. That goalie, Libor Kasik, is the highest rated goalie in Europe and played light’s out.