Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Reway heads for Gatineau, whilst Dano stays at home.

Fresh of winning gold with Slovakia-18, Martin
Reway will move to Gatineau for the 2012/13 season
Photo: qmjhl.ca
Highly skilled forward Martin Reway looks set to follow in the footsteps of many Slovak prospects before him and try his luck in the QMJHL next season. The Gatineau Olympiques will be Reway's team next season, as the Prague born forward leaves HC Sparta Praha and aims to increase his draft stock by playing in the top junior league in Quebec. Reway's path is the one heavily trodden by young Slovak players, who see their best chance of getting drafted to the NHL by playing at least one season in the Canadian Hockey League system. 15 Slovaks (both drafted and undrafted) played in the CHL last year, including 2011 second round pick to the Detroit Red Wings Tomáš Jurčo, who won the QMJHL championship for the second season in succession with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Also present in the QMJHL was undrafted forward Marek Hrivík, who earned an entry level contract with the New York Rangers following a very impressive season with the Moncton Wildcats.

Reway will likely succeed in the QMJHL, a big reason being that it is significantly less physical than the other two Canadian junior leagues. The Prague native is still on the small side, weighing in at only 78kg, so will be introduced slowly onto the smaller ice surfaces and the North American style of play. Reway will likely be the first Slovak taken in the 2013, as the small, speedy forward boasts an array of offensive talent. His point totals at the recent IIHF Division 1 Under-18 World Championships were no doubt inflated by his incredible performance in the game against Norway, where he scored twice and had five assists in the 9:2 victory. While this championship was meant to be Reway's coming out party, it was in fact his team mate, and fellow 2013 prospect Marko Daňo who stole the headlines.

Marko Daňo looks set to shine for Slovan and Slovakia
Photo: hcslovan.sk
Daňo, the son of former Slovakia national team player Jozef Daňo is slowly rising through the ranks and is now a highly touted prospect for the future. He was, like Reway, drafted by HC Slovan Bratislava in the 2012 KHL Draft (Daňo went in the first round, Reway in the second), but instead of moving across the Atlantic, Daňo looks set to be staying in Slovakia, after penning a multi-year deal with the Bratislava based club. However, it is unlikely that the 17 year old forward will play for Slovan next year, with rumours suggesting he will be loaned back to his hometown Extraliga club HK Dukla Trenčín.

Standing at 181cm and weighing in 83kg, Daňo is likely the most "NHL ready" out of recent Slovak prospects, and shone at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Alberta, where he played after just turning seventeen years old, even scoring a goal against Finland. Playing at the lower U-18 level, Daňo racked up the points, scoring 13 points (10+3) in the five games at the Division 1 World Championships.

In an interview with on his new club's website (link), Daňo said: "I had the chance to play overseas, in the WHL [he was taken 60th in the CHL Import Draft by the Prince George Cougars], but when the offer came in from the KHL I cancelled that and came here. The senior league is definitely better for me".

Reway arguably has the higher potential upside, and will probably be taken in the top two rounds, it is fair to say that Daňo doesn't trail far behind. Reway mixes above average skating with soft hands, which make him a netminder's nightmare. Daňo may not have the footspeed of Reway, but he has already shown that he is not one to shy away from contact, and can put the puck in the net with alarming regularity.

Slovakia may not have produced a prospect to rival the likes of Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborík and the late Pavol Demitra in recent years, but in these two, along with the likes of Jurčo, 2010 NHL 2nd round pick Richard Paník as well as the likes of Hrivík and Marek Tvrdoň, there is some optimism in Slovak quarters that the well hasn't completely dried up just yet.

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