The latest in a series on some of the top prospects for the Dallas Stars looks at center Radek Faksa, the team’s first round pick (13th overall) in 2012.
Faksa had a tough 2012-13 season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. He was slowed by an illness early in the season and then missed six weeks due to a knee injury later in the campaign. He ended up playing in only 39 regular season games, and finished with 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists). He picked up six points (four goals, two assists) in ten playoff games for the Rangers.
“He had all sorts of injuries and that hurt his goal production,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “But his game is pretty solid.”
Faksa, who is listed at 6-3, 210 pounds, is a two-way center. He’s considered especially strong on the defensive side of things, good on faceoffs and he has a nice offensive upside as well.
Despite the injuries, the 19-year-old Faksa had an eventful season. He played for Czech Republic at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, picking up two assists and winning 53 of 97 (54.6 percent) of his faceoffs in six games for the Czechs, who finished fifth in the tournament.
Not long after the World Juniors, he headed to Frisco to spend a few days at Dallas Stars training camp
“It was awesome,” Faksa said. “I was just very excited to be at an NHL camp for the first time. … I watched all the guys for what they do on the ice, off the ice.”
Once his junior season ended in Kitchener, Faksa got his first taste of playing at the professional level. He spent some time with the Texas Stars of the AHL, suited up for two regular season games and picked up one assist.
“It was a great experience because it’s men’s hockey, right? All the guys are bigger, stronger and everything, so it was a great experience,” Faksa said. “It’s so different than playing junior hockey. I had two games. I’m glad for the chance.”
Texas coach Willie Desjardins said it was a tough adjustment for Faksa, who was unfamiliar with how Texas played and was tentative for fear of making a mistake.
“He said he was a little unsure of the systems, and you can’t go hard unless you are sure of the systems,” said Desjardins. “I thought maybe he wasn’t going as hard as I needed him to, but he wasn’t quite sure where he needed to go so he was backing off a little bit. And that’s a good thing because he’s a real smart player and he’s a real complete player. Once he understands that he’ll go real hard.”
There was more to the Cedar Park experience than just the games for Faksa, who spent three weeks with the AHL club.
“I saw just not the hockey, but how they are living and how they have to take care of themselves,” he said. “That was pretty good.”
Faksa was among the prospects at Dallas’ development camp earlier this month, and it looked like the issues that slowed him last season – especially the knee issue – were behind him. He was among the more impressive players at the camp.
“Actually, my knee’s feeling pretty good. I was out six weeks and that wasn’t easy,” Faksa said. “I’ve had a pretty good summer and I’m looking forward to having a good season.”
And the Stars are counting on him bouncing back and moving forward in his development in 2013-14.
“He’ll spend the summer here with us (training), go to Traverse City (for the NHL Prospects Tournament), go to training camp and then go back to Kitchener, which is good because that’s where he should be,” said Jackson. “He’s going to get a lot of ice there, he and the coach have a good relationship and I suspect he will take a big step next year.”
2012-13 Radek Faksa statistics