Who is Tomas Hamara?
Tomas Hamara is a Czech born, left-shot defenseman. His birthday is March 9th, 2004, putting right in the middle in terms of age for first-year eligibles for this upcoming draft. Hamara stands at 6’0”, 185 lbs so he is probably slightly smaller than your average defenseman, but not notably so.
You can see Hamara’s career stats (via Elite Prospects) below. Hamara has spent the last four seasons playing for Tappara of the Finnish league, working his way up the organization through the program’s junior system. He has been fairly productive as a defenseman against his peers, so it’s likely that Hamara is at least somewhat proficient at moving the puck from the back end. This past season, Hamara was deemed ready for the Liiga (Finland’s top professional league) and played in 24 games, notching two assists. While that doesn’t seem very good, and for a top-end prospect it’s not, I don’t put a ton of stock in point production for draft eligible players at these top end European leagues. First, they often get minimal ice-time to the point where you wonder why they even bothered calling the player up (although the Liiga isn’t as bad with this as the KHL), second, they are playing against fully grown men, and 3rd, unless the player is exceptionally gifted offensively, he’s likely not being put in situations where he’d be expected to produce offensively (something I think is even more of a factor for defensemen). Therefore, to me it is a promising sign that Hamara played in the league at all. While I couldn’t find the ice-time for his Liiga play, I think it is worth noting that he did record 37 shots and took 8 PIM in his time with the top Finnish professional league. Over a shot shot per game as a defensemen indicates that he was involved in the offensive for Tappara and wasn’t scared to handle the puck against bigger, stronger players. When he wasn’t playing for his Liiga team, Hamara spent the 2021-22 season playing for Tappara’s U20 junior team, where he notched 6 goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 32 games. At some point in the year he was also loaned to KeuPa HT of the Mestis (Finland’s AHL) for a couple games, where he recorded a couple helpers. Hamara will likely spend most of his time next year back in the Liiga with Tappara, where he is under contract until after the 23-24 season.
Tomas Hamara has made his mark known on the international stage as well as for his club team. He has represented Czechia since the 18-19 season, and was over a point per game for the U18 club in a combined 17 games. While he didn’t make the 2022 U20 Czech world junior team, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on roster come December.
Where is Tomas Hamara Ranked?
- #21 - NHL Central Scouting (EU skaters) Final Rankings
- #54 - TSN Bob McKenzie Midseason Rankings
- #46 - TSN Craig Button May Rankings
- #65 - Elite Prospects Final Rankings
- #59 - The Athletic ($) Scott Wheeler Final Rankings
- #54 - The Athletic ($) Corey Pronman May Rankings
- #66 - FC Hockey Spring Rankings
- #56 - Dobber Prospects Final Rankings
- #64 - The Hockey Writers Peter Baracchini May Rankings
- #73 - The Hockey Writers Matthew Zator April Rankings
- #73 - Draft Prospects Hockey Final Rankings
As you can tell from the rankings, Hamara is a well-respected, though not highly-touted prospect. He has a lot of people projecting him to be a late 2nd or 3rd round pick. There were a couple of the usual places that didn’t have him ranked - Smaht Scouting, Scouching (although he’s on the “watch list” there) - but otherwise he has a very low deviation in his ranking among scouts.
What Others Say About Tomas Hamara
We’ll start by taking a look at Logan Horn’s profile of the Czech defender from The Hockey Writers. Horn gives us the first indication of what to expect from Hamara.
Tomas Hamara is a sturdy two-way defender who is excellent at supporting his team’s rushes through the neutral zone. He is slightly more offensively minded than defensive, as he can use his great puck skills and calm demeanor to support his teammates.
This is pretty much what I expected from Hamara given how consistently he is ranked as a late-2nd, early 3rd round pick. He’s, someone who has enough offensive potential that more modern scouts value his puck-moving ability, but steady enough defensively that he doesn’t need to be dynamic offensively to garner praise from more traditional scouts.
Horn goes on to note that Hamara handles pressure very well, generally making the right read and makes very few mistakes. He notes that the player is not very physical but is an effective defender both against the rush, although he can sometimes get beat by higher end players for being too aggressive, and in-zone.
Finally, I learned from this profile that Hamara was named one of the top-3 players for Czechia at the U-18 World junior Championships.
Nick Richard, of Dobber Prospects, has a two sentence summary of Hamara’s game that aligns pretty closely with what we’ve read so far.
Solid two-way defender who likes to activate and join his team on the rush. Not a dynamic talent but has the potential to grow into a steady top-four defenseman at the pro level.
Miroslav Simurka of FC Hockey has a profile of Hamara that’s behind a paywall. From what is available to read for free, you will once again see praise for Hamara’s ability to be a contributor in all 3 zones.
Both of the Athletic writers had similar praise to what we’ve seen above. Hamara appears to just be an all-around effective player. Corey Promman’s blurb on Hamara is the first praise of the defenseman’s skating I’ve read, and states that Hamara uses it both to make stops defensively and rush the puck up-ice. However he goes on to say that the Czech blue-liner doesn’t really excel at any aspect of the game, and thus doesn’t have a clear role at the NHL level. He projects Hamara as a potential 3rd pairing defenseman. Scott Wheeler’s comments on the player are also mostly positive. He praises Hamara’s all-around efficiency and execution. Like Pronman, Wheeler projects Hamara as a 3rd pairing guy.
A Little Video
And I mean a little video. I thought given he played a decent amount in the Liiga and he’s ranked as a 2nd-3rd rounder there would be more out there on Hamara, but here is the only clip I found of him.
Hamara is #90 and is running the point on the power play, probably for Tappara’s J20 club. He takes a nice one-timer that I think is tipped in.
An Opinion of Sorts
I like a lot of what I’ve read regarding Hamara. I like hearing a defensemen doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, is good in all 3 zones, and can skate well. I also like that he has experience playing against men in a professional league, even if he wasn’t very productive. If this were the scouting report of a player the Devils were acquiring to play on their current roster, I would be pleased.
But, as a potential draft pick I am less enthralled by Hamara’s game. Just because a player plays a clean game and is a good all-around player in lower levels doesn’t mean he will continue to be effective at the highest level. What I think is missing is some element where Hamara excels above his peers, whether that is skating, hockey IQ, passing, etc. This concern is mitigated somewhat by Hamara’s pro experience, but not completely so. My reading of Hamara is that if he develops well and hits his ceiling he is probably a number 4 defenseman at best. That is a nice, valuable piece to have, but I prefer more upside in my draft picks, even if it means lower odds of ending up with an NHLer. On the other hand, the Devils could also do much worse than Hamara if they selected him as their third round pick. Ultimately I like the player, but don’t think he is the best utilization of draft capital based on his upside and where he is projected to be selected.
What are your thoughts on Tomas Hamara? Would you want the Devils to take him with their 3rd round pick if he’s still available? Do you worry about his limited upside or would you rather take the safer pick and hope his all-around game translates at the highest level? Please leave your thoughts below and thank you for reading!