Adam Sykora — 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Adam Sykora

2021-22 Team: HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Date of Birth: Sept. 7, 2004
Place of Birth: Piestany, Slovakia
Height: 5-foot-10, Weight: 172 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: LW/RW
Eligibility: First-year draft eligible

Rankings

Adam Sykora is a Slovak prospect who plays for HK Nitra in Slovakia’s top professional hockey league. The 17-year-old finished the 2021-22 regular season with 10 goals and 17 points in 46 games. He was also part of Slovakia’s national team for the World Junior Championships, where he didn’t total a point in two games before the IIHF canceled the tournament due to COVID. 

The first thing I look for in a player is his skating ability, and Sykora has it, as he’s a speedy skater with a good stride. Not only is he a speedy skater, but he has a quickness about his game, especially when he’s forechecking. He’s quite the aggressive forechecker and is quick to jump on the puck, as you’ll see in the clip below: 

That’s something else to like about Sykora’s game: his motor. Though he’s a 17-year-old playing in a pro league, he’s not afraid to get in on the forecheck and work to gain the puck. At the same time, there are moments where he gets knocked off the puck easily because he doesn’t have the strength yet. And it’s not only on the forecheck. It tends to happen when he’s defending the rush and trying to knock the puck off an opposing attacker coming through the neutral zone.

What also stood out to me about Sykora is his defensive game, which is quite good for someone his age playing in a pro league. He’s excellent at getting in shooting lanes and taking them away, especially for defensemen trying to shoot the puck from the blue line. He’s also a stout shot blocker and even saw plenty of time on HK Nitra’s penalty kill. 

Sykora does have a bit of offensive upside as well. The Slovak league may not be great, but a 17-year-old scoring 10 goals and 17 points is nothing to write off. Because he’s a quality skater, he should be able to have success in transition at the next level as a winger, which gives him offensive potential. But it’s not just his skating that gives him offensive upside

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Per Josh Tessler’s report on Sykora at Smaht Scouting, he has a knack for getting into medium- and high-danger scoring areas in the offensive zone. That’s a positive trait for a young forward, especially one as young as Sykora, as he doesn’t turn 18 until Sept. 7. 

If there’s a knock on Sykora, it’s that he needs plenty of work in the weight room. He’s a ways off from having the strength needed to play the aggressive forechecking style that he does in Slovakia in the NHL, but the tools are there. He’s a good skater, is already ahead of where he should be defensively for his age, and has some offensive upside with his ability to get into medium- and high-danger scoring areas in the offensive zone. 

Other THW Draft Profiles

Adam Sykora — NHL Draft Projection

There’s a wide range in Sykora’s rankings, but he seems like a good bet to be a third-round pick at the very least. For me, teams should be eyeing him in the middle of the second round for the simple fact if he were born a little more than a week later, he’d be in the 2023 draft instead of 2022. He’s incredibly young for this class and has the upside worth taking a gamble on in the second round. 

Quotables

“If [Sykora] can improve his upper body strength that will allow him to shove attackers out of the way, it will only increase his value. But, in Tipos Extraliga play, it has been clear that the lack of upper body strength has made it far more challenging for Sýkora to generate quality scoring chances. He will get pushed out of the slot easily, and he struggles to net possession when facing heavier defenders in puck battles. His straight-line speed makes him dangerous and is of great value when staying aligned with both puck-carrying teammates and puck-carrying attackers. If he can build up his strength for both slot presence and tight puck battles, he will be a pain to deal with. In addition, if he can fine-tune his shot mechanics and work on identifying the best passing options in all three zones, his production will go up.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting.

“Sykora has clearly developed in the past months, and he is improving his skills every game. He is a good skater with flexible hips, good edge work, good first steps, and he can accelerate quickly. His decision-making has improved as well…” – Miroslav Simurka, FC Hockey.

Strengths 

  • Skating
  • Forechecking
  • Defensive game
  • Ability to generate shots in medium- and high-danger areas
  • Penalty-killing
  • Motor

Under Construction — Improvements to Make

  • Strength
  • Shot; he needs to be able to generate more power on it.
  • Overall passing ability

NHL Potential 

Sykora likely projects as a middle-six winger in the NHL; Andrew Copp comes to mind. At the very least, he has the defensive ability to mold himself into a reliable bottom-six forward who forechecks aggressively and can kill penalties, such as Zach Aston-Reese, if he doesn’t develop the offensive ability to be a middle-six winger. 

Risk-Reward Potential

Risk: 2.5/5, Reward: 3.5/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential 

Offense: 6.5/10, Defense: 7.5/10

Adam Sykora Statistics

Awards/Achievements

Sykora won a silver medal with Team Slovakia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past summer. 

Adam Sykora Video

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