Hailing from the same country to produce Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Zacha and others, Daniel Kurovsky is a winger who has played the majority of his junior career with AZ Havirov, although this past season he spent 29 games on loan to the HC Vitkovice U20 team. Thanks to impressive scoring seasons every season since 2012-13, Dan is ranked as the #29 European skater by Central Scouting entering this year's draft. Because more North American (Canadian and those in the Canadian juniors) skaters go earlier than European ones, being the #29 European skater could mean Daniel gets a 3rd round grade by some teams.
However, don't let the grade fool you, he is a scorer. Since his breakout year in 2012-13 for the U16 AZ Havirov team, he has consistently been a point-per-game producer at at least one level of hockey. Without even reading anything else about him, that sounds like gold to a team bereft of scoring like the New Jersey Devils. Digging further, however, is he someone the Devils should target in the 3rd round? Or are there other issues that should give the team pause?
Who is Daniel Kurovsky?
So as you can see from above, I was not joking about him playing at a near point per game pace each of the last four seasons. In 2012-13, he produced 33 points in 34 games for the U16 team, 19 of those points coming as goals. The following season, he produced 39 points (25 of them goals) in 26 games for the U16 team once again. They tried moving him to U18 that year, and he did fine with 16 points in 31 games, but obviously did not crush the competition. The next year, however, in 2014-15, he did crush it at U18, dropping 44 points in 41 games, with 28 points coming as goals. He even did well at the U20 level that season, with 4 goals and 5 assists in only 8 games played.
This past season, he continued his point production ways, scoring 15 points in 11 games for U18 AZ Havirov before being loaned to the U20 HC Vitkovice team. There, he did even better against the U20s, with 36 points in 29 games (19 goals). Over the course of his junior career, he has 0.94 points per game at the U16 level, 0.89 points per game at the U18 level, and a whopping 1.24 points per game at the U20 level. No one can claim he is not productive on the scoreboard.
What is interesting too is his body type. You might have thought from reading the numbers that he was a sniper type, with a small stature and small size. Why else is he not rated higher? Well, actually he is tall, standing 6'3" and weighing nearly 200 pounds. So considering that he should put on more size as he ages, he has the body to withstand the rigors of the NHL. If he can score now with that frame, he should be able to continue scoring at quality levels should he be able to transition well to the North American game.
Why is he not rated higher? Well as to that I cannot completely say. What I can tell you, however, is that his excellent production has not transitioned onto the world stage. In international tournaments, his production goes way down. He did have 3 points in 5 games at the U18 World Juniors this year, but he only had 5 points in 14 games at the International Juniors, and had no points at all in 4 games at the Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the same 0 points in 4 games at the World Junior A Challenge. For someone to really move up the rankings and get above North American players especially, he needs to play well internationally, and he has not really done that.
What Others Have Said About Kurovsky
At Hockey's Future, Chapin Landvogt did a U18 World Championship preview back on April 16th for the Czech team. He listed Kurovsky under the "true stars up front" section, and had this to say about him:
"Kurovsky is the real gem the scouts will be watching, though, as he has put his 6'3", 200-pound frame to good use this winter, putting up 42 points in 35 games for Vitkovice's U20 program. He is a left wing who loves to create danger and bring the puck to the net from the sideboards."
That is some real praise, especially in the context of the article. He mentions him after first discussing the other two major scoring threats on the team, but says that Kurovsky is the best one and the one to look out for. From the sound of it, it looks like Daniel likes to use his size to his advantage, carrying the puck towards the net for high percentage looks. The Devils could certainly use a player with that capability in my opinion.
Interestingly enough, this is two weeks in a row that I have looked at someone who is not on Bill Placzek's full 7 round mock over at Draft Site. The reason for this is most likely the same reason Hudson Elynuik was not on it: Kurovsky rose rapidly on Central Scouting's draft rankings. At the midterm, Daniel was only ranked the #75 European skater entering the draft, which is not the best ranking. It would have given him a small chance to be drafted in one of the last two rounds perhaps, but that would have been it. At #75 on the European side, it makes sense as to why Placzek does not have him on there. However, he rose really quickly thanks to his great season this year while on loan at HC Vitkovice. This means that some people simply have not seen him play to make judgement, or they do not trust someone who has risen so quickly onto the scene.
Over at Die By the Blade, T. McGee created his top 200 big board for the draft about a week ago. He also separates the players into 11 tiers of talent in his opinion, and also bolded the names of those who are rising quickly in the rankings. He has Kurovsky at #154 on his board, which would make him a 6th round pick this year, which is actually held by Columbus at this point. Obviously, the 6th round is not necessarily indicative of his current #29 European skater ranking by the CSS, but is perhaps more in line with his midterm ranking of #75. However, McGee did bold Kurovsky's name, which means he understands that the kid is a fast riser on the boards. Given his production numbers over his career plus his large frame, he could easily go higher than that.
A Little Video
...Or not. Given his playing almost exclusively in the Czech Republic, plus the fact that he has not performed particularly well in international tournaments, it is near impossible to find video on him. There is one video I found on YouTube where he assists on a goal, but it is not even worth embedding. The video is a minute long and you can barely see him do anything anyway. We will have to simply go off of the numbers and what we can read about him instead.
This is the third week in a row that I have looked at someone who had a drastically different final ranking from Central Scouting than they did at the midterm back in January. Whereas Vojtech Budik has fallen precipitously, both Hudson Elynuik and Daniel Kurovsky have risen quickly thanks to excellent 2015-16 seasons. Whereas Elynuik never really did anything before this season in terms of production, Kurovsky has been doing it his entire career. Year after year, he continues to produce points at a near point-per-game clip. He spent much of his career in U16 and U18 Czech leagues, which are far from the best competition, but he proved that he could dominate there. Then, this year they decided to move him up to the best U20 competition in the country, and he just continued to produce. There was no slowing down for him, no time that he needed to adjust to a faster, better game. He was already there.
That, to me, makes him intriguing. There certainly is a chance that he comes to the States and drops the ball against AHL competition and becomes a bust, but he has yet to prove that will happen. Instead, all he has proven is that he can succeed at whatever level of competition they have thrown at him. I would much prefer to take a chance on someone like that then on someone who produced 20 points in 55 games in the WHL, simply because they played in the WHL. Competition is important, but if you don't have the scoring touch, you won't learn it by moving up to AHL competition. If Kurovsky learns to adjust to the North American style game, he can undoubtedly continue to produce.
Furthermore, he is intriguing for the same reason that I said Elynuik was last week: he has size. He is not a tiny sniper who could potentially get pushed around at the NHL level by bigger, stronger competition. He is already 6'3" and 200 pounds, and should put on some more weight as he ages. He will be able to withstand the rigors of the NHL game. All the more reason to take a chance on him in my opinion. Despite his high rise on the rankings, if the Devils took a shot on him in the 3rd round, with the hope that he maintains his scoring ways, I would not argue with that pick. He could grow up with Zacha. That would be a heck of a 1-2 punch if both pan out.
What do you think about Daniel Kurovsky? Looking at what we know about him, would you be happy if the Devils took a chance on him in the 3rd round? Or, does his fast rise in the rankings scare you? What about in the 4th round? Can you find any more information or videos about him to post, so that we can learn more? Please leave your comments/information below, and thanks for reading.