With the discussion and speculation builiding up as draft day nears, one name that just won’t go away is Radek Faksa. The Maple Leafs are rumoured to be quite high on the powerful Kitchener Rangers’ forward and have scouted his games extensively. Faksa possesses many of the qualities currently lacking in the organization: the ability to play centre, defensive zone acumen, and size. His name will undoubtedly be linked to the Blue and White even at #5 overall.
The Basics: Two-way centreman for the Kitchener Rangers, 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points in 62 games played
Strengths: The 22nd overall selection in the 2011 CHL Import Draft has put together a very impressive rookie season in North America. Thanks to a powerful 6’3 202 lb frame, he’s had no trouble adjusting to the more physical Canadian game. Faksa is the definition of a complete player, able to line up at all three forward positions, play a grind-it-out style of game, display some of the best two-way potential in the draft (right up there with Galchenyuk), and contribute on the scoresheet as well. He’s a character kid with a good head on his shoulders and will battle for you on every shift. Offensively, there is a well-rounded skillset that includes a quick, accurate wrist shot and some soft hands in tight around the net.
Weaknesses: Faksa has a solid all-around package of talent but it’s difficult to pinpoint any one particular outstanding skill that will vault him to an all-star calibre level. He’s not afraid to bang bodies but he’s not exactly an intimidating, physical presence at this point. He’s pretty slick and agile for a player his size, but could still improve on his acceleration and top end speed. On the offensive side, he’s no slouch and should be able to contribute, but probably won’t be one to dominate the scoresheet.
Draft Day Outlook: Faksa is currently pegged to go somewhere between picks #10 – 20 (16th overall on the ISS rankings) but given the parity of the draftboard, it would not surprise me to see him land in the top 10. An underwhelming playoff performance may hurt his stock and provide the Maple Leafs with an opportunity to move down if this is indeed their man. A projected 50-60 point two-way forward similar to a David Backes or a Bobby Holik type would not be unreasonable expectation.