The Topeka goalie is a highly-rated prospect
There was a lot of talent on display at last week's NAHL Showcase, but no prospect drew more buzz from scouts than Topeka Roadrunners 1997-born goalie Matej Tomek. Tomek made two starts for Topeka at the Showcase and posted shutouts in both, bringing his early season numbers to a very impressive 0.67 GAA and .977 save percentage in three starts. Earlier this week, NHL Central Scouting gave Tomek a 'B' grade, meaning a prospect rated to go in the second or third round of the NHL Draft.
So who is this guy?
Tomek is a native of Bratislava, Slovakia. Prior to coming over to the US, was considered one of the country's best young goaltending prospects, and has quite a bit of international experience. One of the first big showcases of Tomek's talent came in the summer of 2013 at the Five Nations Tournament in Hrnava, Slovakia. Tomek was named the top goalie at that tournament after posting a 1.95 GAA and .935 save percentage, including an incredible performance in a 3-1 loss to the United States team.(We actually made the briefest of mentions of it at the time).
This past spring, Tomek played with Slovakia at the World U18 championships as an underage player. He appeared in three games for Slovakia, allowing one goal in a win over Germany, giving up six goals in a loss to Germany, and then getting pulled after allowing three first period goals to the United States in the quarterfinals.
Over the summer, Tomek attended the College Hockey Sweden camp, a camp that helps top European players learn about the North American junior/college system, and provides exposure for players looking to come to North America. From there, he caught on with the Topeka Roadrunners, who also had a pair of Slovakian imports last year in Thomas Nechala and Daniel Ryzaysky.
He's listed at 6-3 180 lbs(given the eyeball test, I'd say that's fairly close to accurate; he's maybe a little skinnier than that) , so he's got outstanding size for a pro goalie prospect. As far as playing style, Tomek is a straight butterfly-style goalie. You can tell from his stance in the above picture, as well as this one, he uses extra long leg pads, with the left pad crossing over the right at the top, which allows him to take away space in his five hole when he goes down into his butterfly. He stands with a strong, wide base and is very quick to get down into his butterfly, making it nearly impossible to beat him low. His body always seemed very balanced and under control, allowing him to use all his size to his advantage when he's down in his butterfly. He's very meticulous and precise in all of his movements, without looking too stiff and mechanical.
It's hard to say too much negative about a goalie that doesn't allow any goals, but if anything, he sometimes dropped his glove a little, leaving some extra open space in the upper corner of the net. He didn't need to handle the puck much, but the one time that he did, he stopped a dump-in behind his net and made a pass under minimal duress.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with what I saw out of Tomek. It's hard to believe that he's only a '97 birthdate and just eligible for the draft for the first time this season. There's no doubt in my mind that Tomek is worthy of a selection in the first two or three rounds of the Draft this upcoming summer, and with an impressive season--Tomek could potentially play at the World U18s again--he could compete to be the top goalie available in the draft.