Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Going Ballastic for Jaroslav Balastik

A few years ago, when I was writing for Eurohockey.net, I had quite a loud and ongoing campaign to the Blues to bring Petr Cajanek over to the NHL...and it worked! Now, I’ve attached myself to a new target: Jaroslav Balastik and the Columbus BlueJackets.

Matt MacInnis at Hockeysfuture had an exclusive interview with Jackets’ GM Doug MacLean, and, at my request, asked MacLean about the Jackets’ plans for Balastik (pronounced: BA-lash-teek)

HF: What are the team’s short and long-term plans for Jaroslav Balastik?

DM: Yeah, we were very close to signing him this year to be quite honest. We had a deal in principle done. And then because there was no IIHF agreement it fell through the cracks in that we couldn’t, you know, we were negotiating with the team and we just decided that because it looked like we might not start we would leave him. We certainly plan and hope to sign him. He’s a very good prospect, he’s one of the leading scorers of the Czech Elite League. We’re very high on him.

This season, Jaroslav has just continued to pile on the points and is now ranked second to teammate Petr Leska for the overall points lead in the Czech Extraliga. Balastik leads the league in goals with an astounding 22(!) goals in 29 games and has 11 assists to go with them. (Cy Young Award nominee). As a comparison, noted NHL goal-fiend Milan Hejduk is second in the league with 15 goals.

So, would Balastik be a good fit in the NHL? At 6’2" 210, he certainly has the size.

My friend Robo Neuhauser provides a scouting report on Balastik:

Jaroslav Balastik skates well for a player of his size and has very good balance on his skates. He also possesses soft hands which enables him to control the puck with ease and make smart decisions with it. He can take advantage of his superb upper-body strength to cover the puck with his body easily and keep the attacking defensemen off of him. Jaroslav has bright vision and a nice portion of hockey sense which contributes to his strong decision making. Once he is on the puck, he can shoot and pass quite well. He has a highly accurate wrist shot and his slapper is also very solid. Intensity isn't a problem for Jaroslav, as he is always involved in the games and fighting for the puck. His size allows him to play a physical brand of hockey, but Jaroslav doesn't tend to throw punishing checks and will have to develop this aspect of game in North America a bit. Overall he is a mix of the three s’s: Size, Speed and Skill.

So, while Nikolai Zherdev and Rick Nash get all of the press for the Jackets, they have another darkhorse offensive talent tucked away in Czechia. When Jaro starts scoring piles of goals in the NHL, just remember you heard about him here first :)

One final thing: My pal Michael believes the Jackets (BJ’s) are a force to be reckoned with in the future. While the DinnerJackets have some good young talent, I expect the Atlanta Thrashers to do much better than the Jackets given their organizational depth and quality of star talent. I’ll take Heatley, Lehtonen, Coburn, Valabik and Kovalchuk over Nash, Zherdev, Leclaire, Klesla, and Fritsche.

Robo forget one very imprtant Balastik's feature> he is very deceitful towards goalies. Slashing, spearing, lot of "stick work" near the crease, that are his favourite weapons. I respect his hockey abilities, he is a great shooter (and I dont know why the hell is he ever placed on 4th checking line into national team), but this dishonest his qualities. And I am afraid that north american d-men will not leave his doing this as european do and punishment will come soon.
previous post by misha, of course. I should register I know..
ahh Misha... Balastik sounds just like me :)..my kind of player...a goalie's worst nightmare. Dino Ciccarelli made a great career out of living right in front of the net...so did Wendel Clark. Goalies are evil, and Balastik is the Knight of Justice ;)

PS: No need to sign up for blogger...just post anonymously and sign your name.
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