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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Radek Faksa

Radek Faksa, C
Birthplace: Opava, Czech Republic, 1/9/94
Bio: 6’3, 202 lbs., R
Kitchener Rangers, OHL
Rankings: ISS – 16; CSS – 7 (NA)

The Skinny: While not the equal of the top forwards in this draft class by raw offensive skill; his pro-caliber frame, physicality and defensive play make Radek Faksa one of the best young centers for 2012.

With size, grit and outstanding two-way play, Radek Faksa has flown up draft boards this season, culminating with an almost shocking mid-season ranking on Central Scouting’s North America list – fourth overall. That rank has since ‘fallen’ to seventh, but scouts love how aggressive Faksa is on the attack (and forecheck) and how willingly he gives and absorbs punishment. Faksa was one of the best players in January’s CHL top prospect game.

Projecting as a two-way power-forward, Faksa uses his solid skating and ample frame to protect the puck on the rush and win battles all over the ice. He’s fast but lacks the explosiveness out of the blocks that the true elite skaters in this class possess. He has very solid balance and it takes some real oomph to get him off his skates.

Faksa is extremely reliable defensively and backchecks diligently. Using his speed to recover and break up odd-man rushes, he can out-muscle opponents for positioning or strip them of the puck. Because of his size, athleticism and defensive willingness; he could easily become a shutdown-forward at the NHL level.

Of course, he’s not highly rated just because of his defense – the Czech center projects as a plus-scoring forward who has a nose for the net and a very hard shot. Faksa is great at keeping the pressure on with excellent play off the cycle or in front of the net. He’s got good hands and decent puck-skills, too. Where he makes his money is right in front of the net, finishing heavily with grit and minimal finesse.

Detractors will point to Radek’s skill level as something short of elite. He’s not really the type to wow with incredible displays of puck-handling (though he’s got some nice power moves), and that will probably keep him outside the top-five. Additionally, he’s not shown real plus-playmaking abilities so far. Without these (or elite explosiveness), he’s a clear step below the top forwards in this class in many minds.

Still, there’s so much to like about Faksa: The all-around play, the physicality, the finish… As a result, he’ll probably find his way well into the top-half of the first round. Faksa is a pretty safe bet for teams drafting around the twelfth position. However; if someone thinks he’s scratching the surface of his offensive potential – or that he’ll be a game-changing two-way pivot, he might go even higher.

Ideal Fits: Teams looking for a two-way forward with size: Washington, Dallas, Winnipeg, Carolina, Calgary

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because he’s very well-rounded and solid in all zones; because his size and finish make him a difficult forward to contend with; because they’re infatuated with his lofty CSS ranking.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because, like many of the first-round forwards outside the top-ten, it’s questionable if he has the skill level one expects from a first-line player.

Strengths: Size, Strength, Two-Way Play, Finishing, Physicality, Grit

Weaknesses/Concerns: Explosiveness, Elite Puck Skills, Playmaking

Projection: Second-Line Two-Way Power-Center (25g, 60p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First Round (8-14)

Overall Rank: 11

N.A. Rank: 9

OHL Rank: 3

Forward Rank: 6

Czech National Rank: 1

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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