2023 NHL Draft prospect Samuel Hunzik weighs down the stats columns

“I feel more comfortable,” says Samuel Hunzik, the rising Slovakian winger. “I’ve been here for two months. I know what life is like. I know what to expect.”

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Rookie winger Samuel Hunzik has played so well for the Vancouver Giants this season that he deserves a little quick therapy.

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That’s as Honzek is on track to score 44 goals and 99 points this season as Vancouver approaches the one-third mark in the WHL regular season.

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The 18-year-old Slovakian led Vancouver with 13 goals and 29 points through 20 games through Wednesday morning. He carried a seven-point streak (7-9-16) in the Giants’ Wednesday night visit to the Spokane Chiefs.

For perspective, Swedish winger Fabian Liesel, who was a 2021 NHL first-round draft pick for the Boston Bruins, led the Giants in regular season scoring last year with 62 points, including 22 goals, in 53 games.

For more perspective, Hunzik’s compatriot Marek Tverdun holds the Giants record for most goals (31) and points (74) by a European player in a regular season through wing efforts in 60 games in 2011-12.

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“I’m more comfortable. I’ve been here a couple of months now. I know what life is like. I’m trying to do the best I can, trying to learn new things,” said Honzik, who is eligible for the 2023 NHL draft.

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We provide these keeping up figures simply to give an idea of ​​how early Honzek managed. They count, of course, on him seeing action in all 68 of Vancouver’s regular season games, and we already know that’s not going to happen.

Hunzik played for the revived Slovaks last summer at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton, and is expected to be part of their squad for this year’s tournaments in Halifax and Moncton, NB, which kicks off on Boxing Day. Honzek doesn’t have any confirmed dates on a training camp in Slovakia yet, but it’s been speculated that he will be asked to join his national teammates around December 14. That means he will miss six or seven games for the Giants.

Vancouver forward Zack Ostapchuk, 19, played for Team Canada over the summer and should be in the starting lineup to play again in Moncton and Halifax. Team Canada will hold a selection camp December 9-12 in Moncton. This means that Vancouver will be without Ostapchuk for nine or ten games if the prospect of the Ottawa Senators remains as expected.

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The Giants’ season last year was derailed when Lysel and goaltender Jesper Vikman lost to Team Sweden and Coach Michael Dick and Coach Michael Bernstein and forward Justin Sordiff to Team Canada’s juniors, despite the tournament closing early due to COVID-19.

Vancouver has lost nine out of 10 when losing at least part of the quintile during December and eight of those defeats have come to teams behind them in the standings.

Giants center Ty Thorpe, one of 12 returning from last year’s team, believes the group learned from those global junior woes a season ago.

“Though you lose these guys,” Thorpe said, “your habits cannot change.” “You have to stay disciplined. You have to come with the same mindset. You have to keep your structure.

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“A lot of teams go through this with World Juniors. I think we have a resilient group. We can work around that.”

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Even with time Honzek should have a crack at the totals delivered by both Lysell and Tvrdon.

Honzek was one of 10 WHL players to receive “A” ratings on the NHL Central Scouting-to-Watch-to-Watch list, meaning they believe he’s in the running to be a first-round pick for the 2023 draft next summer.

He is 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds and has already shown his willingness to play in high traffic areas. And he has a rushing speed, the ability to get away from defenders on open ice.

“He moves really well,” Thorpe said. “I think he’s made huge strides in his game even since the beginning of the year. He thinks the game is at a very high level. He has a great shot. He moves the puck really well. And he fights.”


Twitter: @SteveEwen

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