G Luka Gracnar - EC Salzburg, Austria (2012 undrafted)
Just throwing this out there, seeing as Slovenia might have a very good goalie in the making. Luka Gracnar, from Hruica (same home town as Anze Kopitar - they're good friends), just turned 19 a week ago or so, currently playing for Salzburg in EBEL (Austria). Got the top position ahead of NHLer Alex Auld and top Austria goalie Brückler. Has a 92.4% SVS and 2.34 GAA with two shutouts in 12 games. Also had a shutout yesterday against Italy in the EIHC tournament in Ljubljana for Slovenia.
He's a bit short at the moment, 5'10, but I think he could be NHL potential. He will be competing in the Division I Group A 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship and we're all hoping he makes a good impression there and possibly gets seen by an NHL scout.
As I said, just throwing this out there since it's so hard for players from Slovenia to get noticed and recognized. He might make it, he might now, a new thread here can't hurt.
Brückler was just brought in, cause Pierre Page was not satisfied with Auld. Because Brückler hasn't played all season so far, Gracnar got the starts - i guess Brückler will be given every chance in the coming games.
But that shouldn't take away from Gracnar, he is a great talent. If he was bigger, he would probably be a very solid NHL prospect.
Yeah, I imagine Brückler has a much higher salary than Gracnar so I doubt he was brought in as a bench warmer. No idea why Auld is still there tough, I bet his salary ain't small. Guess money grows on trees for Salzburg. Anyway, I guess when Brückler is warmed up he'll get more starts but hope Gracnar stays in the mix as well. Could be a big season for him. Does need to gain at least a couple of inches to be NHL material.
Wonder if someone takes a shot at him. His coach is Pierre Page, he played with a couple of NHLers during the lockout so I imagine he has decent enough exposure even if Austria isn't exactly a hockey hotbed. Could be the next Slovenian drafted after Jan Mursak in 2006.
*From Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
In a season very difficult for Salzburg the 19-year old one by one pushed Import [Shawn] Hunwick, NHL man [Alex] Auld and National Team player [Bernd] Brückler out of the team. His GAA of 2.41 in the regular season is the best figure since Artūrs Irbe (2004-05 season), in the play-offs he even pushed his GAA down to 2.22. Long since Northamerican clubs have sent their scouts out to observe the easygoing Slovene. Although he is practically one year late, Gračnar has realistic chances to be drafted in the summer. His new three-year contract in Salzburg already has an corresponding out-clause.