Friday, August 12, 2005


Kukumberg Leaves Russia for Toronto

Roman Kukumberg, one of the over-age Slovakian prospects I've followed for many years has now signed an entry level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kukumberg spent the 04-05 season with Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik of the Russian Super League and fit in nicely with 10 goals and 11 assists in 51 games to go along with his great defensive play.

My scouting report on Roman from prior to the 03-04 draft:

Following a similar career path to the Penguins’ Tomas Surovy, albeit a year or two slower, Kukumberg ripped apart the Slovak First Division before a promotion to the Extraleague, where his great two-way play earned him a spot on the World Championship squad.

Kukumberg has good size and he’s an excellent skater with great speed. He is solid playmaker who is able to score or pass, although he won’t likely be an elite point producer.

Due to his speed and style of play he is often used in shorthanded situations. Though his numbers on Extraliga were too extravagant, he always proved to be a very valuable forward for his team. Furthermore, he played on the national team in several tournaments, where he performed very well.

Kukumberg didn‘t record any goals or assists at the World Championships, but his play on fourth line was first-class defensively and he earned a good reputation amongst the press. During the tournament, he skated on the checking line and impressed in shorthanded situations as well. Kukumberg is very comparable to Radovan Somik, and could make a workable defensive expert for an NHL club.

I know many Leafs fans don't know who the guy is (and probably think he's another one of them "Soft Europeens"), but I'm sure they'll grow to like him quickly. Roman's a blue collar kind of player and Pat Quinn will be able to plunk him into any game situation.

A bit of amusement from the Slovakian press release:

Slovenský hokejový reprezentant a naposledy hráč ruského Neftechimiku Niznekamsk Roman Kukumberg sa dohodol na podmienkach ročného kontraktu s tímom NHL Toronto Maple Leaves.

Editor: "But, Maple Leafs is wrong! It should be Leaves. I don't get it"

Jes: "Sorry, logic and proper grammar doesn't apply to the people of Toronto!"

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