I would say so, but that's just one guy. Most high-end prospects coming out of Czech Republic right now have the "skating is a weakness" tag applied to them. Nobody has been better than average, some are significantly worse. And it's not just speed, their lateral mobility is usually just as awful or even worse.
I think the prospects on the whole from Czech Republic and Finland are actually really good and there's some great gems in there, but I think it does hurt their junior teams (and in the future Olympics/WHC teams) if there's very few good skaters and the team as a whole is slower than the opposition.
Think the whole topic came from watching the Czech - USA game, and i remember thinking that the Czech team didn't look Czech at all. Great size and no mobility, its so not European and so not Czech... (from my swedish perspective Czech hockey is explosive based on opponent turnovers with speedy sniping forwards and tight defense)
I think it is kind of pointless to just rank players by speed or skating ability. Although that is a vital part of the game, there are players that can get by without being excellent skaters. Based on my comparison below, it seems that some countries are having troubles developing top end talent. Slovakia seems fine considering their standing as a hockey country, but Finland doesn't have one player in the top 30. The Czech only have one and he is 36 years old. USA isn't doing as well as you would think, but their top scorers will be around for at least 10 more years barring injury. Sweden is doing great, Canada is obviously Canada. Russia only has 2 players in the top 30, but those two are also in the top 5. They do lack depth and I believe their best-on-best national team reflects that.
Here is just the top 30 scorers last year by country to compare:
The RFA's change some of the numbers as do guys in the minors, but currently eliteprospects shows Sweden as the third largest with a 5 player lead over the Czechs.
Yup Eliteprospects shows 39 SWEs vs 34 Czechs. Due to the lockout Sweden has 41(!) players in the AHL(many of whom will be NHL players when things are back to normal)and Czechs have 9. Last year, the difference was 68 to 43 in the NHL.
With the rise of the KHL in Slovakia, Ukraine, Latvia and Kazakhstan im sure better prospects will come along.
Maybe something is getting lost in translation here, but I imagine that by the point you reach the KHL you should already be both a) quite capable skater (not that it always is the case) and b) at least somewhat of a developed players.
Anyway this thread combines three countries that have in most aspects different conditions. Both Finland and Slovakia suffer from small population (both just around 5 million), which in Finland´s case means that despite the qualities of the development system their most probably not gonna develop elite level talent as regularly as the top 4 countries, i.e. depth issues that are even more visible at the junior level than at men´s. In Slovakia you can add the small number of players/rinks and economic situation in the country. Czechs have double the amount of population, but the participation numbers have been falling and the economic situation might be better than Slovakia´s, but still not as good as Nordic/NA countries.
I suspect poor economy in the past 5 years has something to do with it. Hockey is an expensive sports as it is. Manage local hockey teams are even tougher slovaks not having infrastructure like Finland or Sweden.
Switzerland won 1 out of 5 games this WJC and even that one was against Latvia
But every game they won could have easily been a win with a better bounce. Considering, that on paper they were suppose to be a weak team the fact that they played every team in the tournament evenly, and blew out Latvia, I believe indicates that how they are developing their youth system is working. Focusing on skating might be part of this, I don't know enough about their system to say.
Consistently over the last four years or so, I've always been impressed with the team game the swiss play. They rarely have the talent, but they always seem to play teams close.
The ones that can skate are usually midgets. It's very well known our junior coaches can't teach the bigger guys to skate.
Exactly. I think it's been this way for a long time. IIRC, even Mikko Koivu needed a private skating instructor for several years although he was already coached by others, including his own father. He's still not the most explosive skater, but for a big guy his skating's fine these days and he's able to use his long stride and muscle strength to his advantage.
We also seem to have some talented midgets who aren't great skaters, like MiG. He's improved lately, but for a small player his skating used to be below average. So I would say that we need some more good skating instructors, especially for the bigger players who are always a little more challenging.
Out of the younger guys, Vatanen is definitely a good skater, and Teräväinen isn't too bad either. Ristolainen's skating is okay for his size, and Armia's taken some steps into the right direction as well, although the skating will probably need more work once he gains a bit more muscle mass. Barkov's still in the growing stage, so I expect it to take some time until he can truly regain full control of his body. He'll never be explosive, but with the right instructor he should be fine. Hopefully the NHL organization that drafts him has a decent instructor.
Which one of those is a good skater? They're all anywhere from average to below average. Or did you not read the first post in this thread?
It's disappointing to see how many people just straight up haven't read the first post. It mentions speed, mobility, etc. several times. It's clearly not a thread about the quality of players but about their skating.