Who Do We Have With Ondrej Kachyna?
The Hamilton Bulldogs might landed one of the largest sleeper picks when they selected Ondrej Kachyna with their first import selection. Despite several opportunities to represent the Czech Republic internationally, there was (and still is) very little to go on when trying to find reports about his play online. Kachyna came into the OHL with very raw skills, but with a physical toolkit that will make NHL teams drool at the thought of taking him with a late round selection.
Kachyna’s success this season came from the variety of international experiences. Between the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August, the World Jr. A Challenge in December, and the IIHF U18s in April, Kachyna had plenty of chances to showcase his game in front of scouts. There is very little to go on with regards to game reports that mention his play. This may be interpreted as a good thing as he’s not a flashy player, so the only thing that would stand out in a report would be glaring mistakes. We find nothing about that on his international record, but either way we’re left a bit in the dark.
- NHL Central Scouting:
- Midterm – #173
- Final – #101
- ISS Hockey: #175
- DraftAnalyst.com: #279
It is very apparent by looking at just the offensive boxcar numbers, something clicked for Kachyna after Christmas. Was there some external motivation that he received at the Jr. A Championship? Possibly, but I think that the spike in offense, along with being an even player in the second half in the plus/minus category, is that he replaced Cole Candella in the top 4. Playing alongside Connor Walters truly seemed to help him settle down his game.
Bulldogs defender Ondrej Kachyna is someone who has caught my eye the last few times I’ve seen Hamilton play. Really improved over the year.
— OHL Prospects (@BrockOtten) February 12, 2016
— Daniel Deschenes (@DDeschenesFC) March 30, 2016
Kachyna quite high for a dude w/ 10pts. Nowhere to be found on the list: Sean Day. #2016NHLDraft
— Jeremy Crowe (@307x) February 17, 2016
What’s being said?
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: “Around midseason he really seemed to turn the corner and by season’s end, he had become an extremely effective two-way defender for the Bulldogs. He shows good speed and overall mobility and that helps him at both ends. I particularly love the way he stays ahead of forwards on the rush and he’s very composed and patient, allowing the play to come to him so that he can use his size and reach to defend. He also really improved his confidence with the puck and began to lead or jump up in the play to create scoring chances.” (Source)
- Anthony Mauro, Draftbuzz: “For whatever reason, Kachyna’s tools are jumping off the sheet of ice when he shifts. He was noticeable at the WJAC, but not this noticeable. So agile, so mobile, he’s piped into the attacking play and wants to step up and make something happen. With proper utilization, there might be more talk of Kachyna being the best offensive D for CZE. He’s not perfect, and has to improve his defensive zone awareness, as well as how he attempts to use physicality on stands, but he’s not a dense player and can learn.” (Notes from U18 Preliminary Rounds – Source)
- Mark Scheig, The Hockey Writers: “In my viewings of him, he didn’t do anything that leaped out at you. But he has size at 6-foot-4 and can move well for someone his size. He also has a decent shot. He had a slow start to the season likely due to transitioning to the kind of game they play in the OHL…His unique size and speed combination is certainly worth the flyer late in the draft. He does need work on several things, including reading plays and utilizing his size more. Those are correctable.” (Source)
- George Burnett, GM Flint Firebirds: “Whether it was through injuries or through his play, he became a bigger part of the team as the year progressed. He certainly gained the confidence of the coaching staff and support and respect from his teammates with how hard he worked and how much he did to try to make the transition successfully.” (Source)
Ondrej Kachyna was only able to expedite his adaption to the the North American game when he gained control of the English language. Kachyna struggled on the ice early in the season, and a lot of it seemed to come from being unable to communicate effectively with his defensive partners and his goaltenders. We has a victim of several back-door plays early in the year, despite constantly checking his angles. The result was he often looked lost in the defensive zone, which was quite concerning back in October.
Fast forward to April, where he was a tower for the Bulldogs on the back end. His confidence grew with his ability to talk with his partners in the second half, and he started carrying the puck throughout the neutral zone with surprising grace for his size. Kachyna is a very lean player, but incredibly solid. This allowed him to make several forechecking forwards look quite foolish late in the year as he displayed some surprisingly soft hands.
He began to employ his shot a lot more in the last twenty games, along with his weight. His timing and lateral skating became his most dangerous weapon defending on the rush. He has a very wide wingspan, and the combination made it very easy for him to pinch off forwards along the boards when they tried to go wide.
Kachyna’s growth as a player was a very pleasant highlight to finish the season.
Where will he go?
Difficult to say. I believe Kachyna’s jump in the NHL Central Scouting rankings had a lot to do with multiple viewings by Al Jensen, who lives in Hamilton. Matt Holmes and I interviewed Jensen back in May, and he provided a very glowing report on the development of Kachyna by season’s end, especially his skating and confidence. The question is, how many team scouts have him on their lists? If they only got a few limited viewings of the player from the first half, then we don’t seem him selected.
On the other hand, Kachyna came into the season at 6’3″ – 192 lbs and left the season looking much larger. He has significant potential to be a huge, mobile defender much like Brent Burns if he continues on a similar development track. The combination of commitment to improve and persevere despite initial struggles, along with increased offense and responsibility may be enough to convince a team to take him with a 5th or 6th round pick.
The 2016 NHL Draft Series
- Who Do We Have With Ben Gleason
- Who Do We Have With Cole Candella
- Who Do We Have With Brandon Saigeon
- Who Do We Have With Luke Kutkevicius
- Who Do We Have With Matt Luff
- Who Do We Have With Trent Fox
- Who Do We Have With Connor Hicks
Feature Image: John Rennison / The Hamilton Spectator