Photo Credit: Tomas Kyselica / Hockey Slovakia
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Filip Mešár is a 2022 NHL Draft prospect, who hails from Spišská Belá, Slovakia. For those unfamiliar with Slovakian geography, Spišská Belá is just north of Poprad and sits near the border with Poland. The Polish towns that are the closest to Spišská Belá are Zakopane, Poland and Nowy Targ, Poland.
Mešár played youth hockey for HK Poprad and made his Slovakian Tipos Extraliga debut for HK Poprad in 2020-2021. He is on the same club as both of Peter Bondra’s sons, David Bondra and Nicholas Bondra. Mešár was selected by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2021 CHL Import Draft with the 9th overall selection, but has not had any interest in reporting to Kitchener at this point. In an April 2021 press release on HK Poprad’s site, Mešár was quoted saying “I decided to stay in Poprad, I like the club in Poprad and the coaches also give me plenty of space. I am also satisfied with the management of the club and the conditions I have here for my further progress”.
Aside from league play, Mešár has represented Slovakia on the international level quite a few times including multiple World Juniors tournament (2021 and 2022).
D.O.B – January 3, 2004
Nationality – Slovakia
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –172 lbs
Position – Center/Right Wing
Handedness – Right
Mešár’s Style Of Play
When skating in unison with his teammate who is leading the rush, he looks to come closer to his teammate in the slot when he sees that the attacker is putting pressure on his teammate at open ice. Mešár provides a close passing option and he loves to go to net-front when keeping pace with his forwards. Constantly looking to generate passing lanes to high danger. But, he doesn’t just do so when he and his teammate are skating closer together at centered ice. If his teammates are skating with the puck in unison on the left side of the ice, he skates over to centered ice to provide a passing option closer to the slot.
If a loose puck is rolling around the boards in the direction of his teammate on the other wing, he skates behind his teammate to offer a secondary option should his teammate fail to net possession of the puck. But, it also provides his teammate with a passing option should his teammate net control but be stuck in a puck battle.
Mešár provides passing lanes in medium danger when his teammates are engaged in puck battles in the corners. When his teammate is skating with the puck towards the net from behind the red line, Mešár stays aligned and offers a passing option above the red line.
Mešár is quick off the draw and will be physical in puck battles right away after the face-off. But, no matter if it is off of a face-off draw or not, you can expect him to push into attackers along the red line and engage in puck battles. Don’t let size fool you. Mešár holds his own. He will throw his weight to squeeze in past an attacker on the low boards. Mešár will complete shoulder checks in the corner. He is constantly puck hungry and it’s evident in each shift.
Like American 2022 NHL Draft prospect Frank Nazar, he will look to target attackers on the forecheck who are vulnerable and haven’t identified that Mešár is a threat and that he is skating towards them with speed. That allows Mešár to have the upper hand on the forecheck. He tracks the puck well on the forecheck and the extends his stick blade out towards the puck carrier to trap him. Mešár will constantly use an active stick when he is in range to force puck possession disruption.
When it comes to his shot, he fares better when it comes to shots at net-front. His InStat shot map had recorded three goals in high danger, one goal in medium danger and one goal from low danger in his league play so far this season (data as of January 24, 2022). Three goals came at even strength and three came on the power play.
A few of his goals, he managed to create on his own. For instance, against Nové Zámky on October 3, 2021, he used his mobility and shiftiness to stick-handle around attackers, get good separation and then he scores a backhand five hole shot at net-front.
As mentioned above, the bulk of his goals don’t come at range. But, we have seen glimpses where he can be effective from range. In a game against Nitra on January 18, 2022, he was running the cycle in the dying minutes of the game, cut to the perimeter and had a quick shot release snap shot goal from the edge of the perimeter. The weight transfer on the shot provided him the necessary power to drain the shot from range.
When it comes to scoring in the slot, he has shown that he can create quality one-timer shots especially on the power play, he identifies open ice, skates towards it and uses his quick release to fire a shot immediately after he receives the pass.
When it comes to scoring in the slot, he has shown that he can create quality one-timer shots especially on the power play, he identifies open ice, skates towards it and uses his quick release to fire a shot immediately after he receives the pass. That ability to identify open ice on the power play is also evident at full strength. Hopefully, we see quite a lot of goals from Mešár in the second half of the Extraliga season. He does an excellent job of finding open ice and his numbers have the potential to skyrocket. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
When skating behind the red line or along the half-wall, he’ll look for passing lanes to medium danger and fire backhand passes to teammates in medium danger to try to create scoring chances. You can expect him to use pivots behind the red line when he has pressure on him to open up ice for himself and finds passing lanes to medium danger to exploit. But, he doesn’t just look to be deceptive with his footwork to evade the attack, he also looks to be deceptive when it comes to determining the exact time and lane to use. If he is skating along the corner and stick-handling to keep the puck away from the attacker, he waits till he has just enough range and a passing lane. Then he uses it. He doesn’t overthink it.
It’s not just how he times the pass that makes him deceptive. His puck manipulation skills allows him to rather deceptive as well. Mešár has many deceptive tactics in his tool box. He will manipulate you by playing the puck out in front of you, the attacker decides to attempt to extend his stick blade out and secure the puck, Mešár knows that he is looking for the puck in that spot, so he moves the puck towards him and slows down the attack. His puck manipulation allows him to net open ice and pass.
Unfortunately, there isn’t always a clear cut passing lane for Mešár. There are situations in which the attack is too strong and he can’t wiggle out from it. When being trapped next to the boards, he will look to pass through the attacker’s triangle (underneath the stick) to a teammate at the perimeter. When he is skating up the lane and he has an attacker on him that he simply can’t get separation from, he will look to complete a backhand pass through the triangle to his teammate in the slot. Mešár doesn’t sit back and wait till something pops up. He creates passing lanes based on the attacker’s stick placement and movements.
The only area of his offensive gameplay that needs much improvement is his vision. When working the boards with the puck, he needs to use his peripheral vision to identify where attackers and teammates are. On quite a few shifts per game, he won’t use his peripheral vision to identify a teammate to pass to and instead he will pass to an attacker. If he is facing a teammate, he doesn’t typically struggle to complete passes, but it’s when he doesn’t have a clear sight line that he struggles to connect with teammates.
From a defensive positioning perspective, Mešár will move down to the red line should his opponents bring the puck below the line. If there are puck battles on the other side of the ice, he centers himself in the slot to take away passing lanes for his attackers / create passing lanes for his teammate. Should his defenseman get out of position, he will drop back to the slot.
Overall, Mešár is quite strong in his own zone. Keeps good pace with the puck carrying attacker in his own zone. Bends his knees, drops his posture when facing a puck carrying attacker and extending his stick blade out towards the him. Does everything to trap the attacker that he can. Should an attacker go hunt for the puck in a dump and chase, Mešár stays aligned and in pursuit. When entering into loose puck battles along the boards, he looks to net the inside and not the outside and that allows him to capture the puck first instead of defending against the attacker that grabs the puck first. You can also expect him to skate up to the blue line, lower and widen himself to force rash puck movement at the point. If there are moments in which he is skating behind the rush or skating behind the attack who is aiming to cycle the puck below the red line, he will look to stick lift to cause puck possession disruption.
One area in his defensive play that I would like to see some improvement in is his active stick work. Sometimes when tracking puck movements, his active stick gets deployed but gets deploying slightly too late. For instance, there are situations when the attacking defender looks to pass across the blue line, Mesar extends out his stick blade, but it is too late. The attacking defender manages to get a pass off. If he is going to use an active stick, he needs to use it before the pass.
When in control of the puck and looking to initiate a breakout, Mešár will double back if he draws attackers to him when aiming to exit the defensive zone for a controlled zone exit, then circles back around to pass to a teammate on the other side.
In the neutral zone, Mešár does a good job of puck tracking, following attackers and identifying where his teammates are in comparison to the puck. He will fall back to the defensive zone blue line when facing the rush and his defensemen is caught up further up in the neutral zone. Generally, he looks to position himself slightly centered to take away centered passing lanes. When playing the rush, you can expect him to extend his stick blade out towards the puck carrying defenseman who is in Mesar’s offensive zone. His active stick is a bit stronger in the neutral zone and he times it right to force a change in possession or to force the defender to dump the puck.
When moving the puck up through the neutral zone, he looks to manipulate attackers by positioning the puck closer to his left / towards the boards and once the attacker has committed to skating to him, he shifts right around the attacker and then continues to skate forward in the neutral zone. If he is facing tighter pressure and can’t manipulate the attacker, you can expect him to position the puck as far in front of him as he can and then he will look to skate around traffic.
While he does a good job of identifying threats when he doesn’t have the puck, it’s not always the same when he has the puck. There are situations in which he was bull rushed in the neutral zone. Mešár needs to be alert and attentive to identify where his attackers are when he has the puck, so he can avoid turning over the puck and continue his rush attempt.
Not only does he have the tools to create successful rushes, but he will also look to make cross ice passes in the neutral zone when he sees a teammate closer to the offensive zone blue line. But, the teammate doesn’t have to be at the blue line for Mešár to attempt the pass. He will attempt trajectory / route passes to his teammates if they are skating towards the blue line. In addition, if he skating side by side with a teammate (who seems to have the upper hand speed wise), he has the ability to feather a light backhand pass to the teammate when on the move.
Mešár’s knees are constantly bent and are aligned with the toes of his skates (good ankle flexion). His posture allows him to have solid stride extension length and quality speed. His stride extension length allows him to catch back up to oppositional puck movement and to say aligned with the puck carrier when he was already skating alongside. Mešár also possesses excellent speed when going for loose puck and beating out the attacker to get inside track on the puck. His speed doesn’t just allow him to get the inside track, but it also allows him close off the attacker from netting possession.
His crossovers are quality crossovers that net him good acceleration. Mešár’s skates are in the right spot when completing crossovers. His plant skate is leaning on the outside edge. Mešár implements good crossovers for acceleration when skating forwards and backwards. He will implement crossovers when skating backwards to increase his speed and open up passing lanes to the offensive zone blue line. The speed allows him to manufacture those passing lanes and avoid threats. When he retrieves the pass, he is able to hold the speed when shifting his body forward with more crossovers to facilitate the change in direction. His crossovers when skating backwards are also pivotal when shifting from one attacker to another in the defensive and neutral zones. If he his skating forwards, he has the ability to net separation with his crossovers. His crossover length allows him to truly generate the necessary acceleration to overpower attackers. If he is behind his puck carrying teammate and his teammate has no support / no passing lane, Mesar has the ability to utilize a mixture of crossovers and speedy skate extension to power him up the ice and that allow Mesar to open up a passing lane.
Not only does Mešár have great crossover and straight line speed, but he also does a good job of retaining that speed and will lean on his edges when completing a tight turn to retain the speed that he built up. His edges also allow him to be shifty and pivot away from attackers. He will blend crossovers and quality edges when facilitating the rush. Mešár has excellent mobility and its evident almost every shift.
Mešár has the potential to be a steal at the NHL Draft. His transitional play, skating/edges and his passing ability make him a constant threat. He is a well-rounded player and will continue to get stronger. The top six upside potential is there and while his production isn’t high in Extraliga play, I’m confident that when Mešár is ready to make the next step and move to North America that the scoring will come. Just a matter of time.
January 24, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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