When the Carolina Hurricanes drafted Martin Necas as their first-round pick (12th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the front office had expectations that he would not play with the Hurricanes soon after he was drafted, as he needed time to develop more. Scouts painted him as being an undersized forward, but he was an extremely skilled skater, so good in fact that he was ranked the fifth-best international skater. He also added great offensive instincts to his arsenal, which made for a safe lottery pick.
Necas was born on Jan. 15, 1999 in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic. Growing up in the Czech Republic allowed for him to be enthralled into the hockey culture at a young age. He started his junior campaign in 2012 at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with a youth team from Chemutov, Czech Republic. His first full season as a junior hockey player came during the 2014-15 season, where Necas played on two junior teams, SKLH Žďár nad Sázavou and HC Kometa Brno. He ending up leading the Czech league in scoring with an outstanding 91 points in 34 games.
Despite an underwhelming 2015-16 season due to injuries and sickness, Necas made his professional debut with HC Kometa Brno in 2016. During the following season, Necas played in 41 games where he logged a disappointing 15 points, but he played significantly better during their playoff run that, with his help, ended in a championship for Brno. Necas scored four goals in 10 games in their playoff run, which ranked second on the team. During the NHL Entry Draft following that season, Necas was snagged by the Hurricanes in the first round at 12th overall. He later signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canes.
Necas was not expected to be on the Carolina roster immediately following his draft selection as he was predicted to return to the Czech Republic and train more for the NHL, or he was planned to play on the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes AHL affiliate; however, due to a Lee Stempniak injury, the opportunity for Necas was there and he took advantage, as he ended up making the roster. Due to NHL rules, he was only allowed to play in up to nine games or else it would have counted as a year of his contract. The Hurricanes’ front office was unsure if he would stay in the NHL the whole year so they decided to limit his playing time.
He was able to make his NHL debut, around two years ago to the date on Oct. 17, 2017, versus the Oilers. After remaining on the team for about a week later, he returned to Brno where he led them to back-to-back championships.
At the start of last season, Necas began the season on the Carolina roster and he scored his first career goal on Oct. 16; however, he was sent back down to the Checkers for more development.
Going into this season, Necas has had huge expectations as he was considered the top prospect in the Hurricanes farm system. So far in this young season, he has played extremely well, tallying two goals and three assists, including a goal in the season-opener shootout win. He has been one of the best rookies in the entire NHL as he is tied for second in total points among rookies at five points, one behind the leaders. He believes that he is ready to stay a Hurricane for the entire season. (from ‘Hurricanes’ Martin Necas ready to be full-time NHL player,’ News & Observer, 09/16/2019)
“I feel pretty good on the ice,” he said in an N&O interview Monday. “I feel like I’m a little stronger than last year. I feel ready but now I have to show it in the game, on the ice.”
Even head coach Rod Brind’Amour has been impressed by Necas’ improved play, but he still needs to prove himself even more.
“He looks like he’s more mature,” Brind’Amour said Monday during his camp press conference. “He’s certainly more mature than he was last year on the ice. And off the ice he’s physically more mature. But again, we’ll see how it all comes together when he starts playing for real.”
After consecutive seasons of starting out on the Hurricanes roster, only to later get demoted early on in the season, he could have easily said I want to go back to the Czech Republic, yet he always remained optimistic and he understood that as long as kept working hard, his time would eventually come.
“It was tough,” he said. “Some (Canes) guys are injured and sometimes you’re waiting (for) the call-up and you’re feeling good on the ice but it doesn’t come. But that’s hockey. That’s hockey in the NHL.”
Despite many roster spots not going to him, he made the most out of playing for the Charlotte Checkers as he recorded 52 points in 64 games. That season was an extremely special season as the Checkers won the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time ever and Necas had a blast during their run, but he would love a full season in the red and black.
“It was a great run for us in the playoffs,” he said. “We had a really good team on the ice but also off the ice, which is really important, especially in the playoffs. That was cool. I really enjoyed it. It was great to win it.”
Next Up for the Canes
The Hurricanes are in the midst of a west coast road trip where they are currently 1-1, and a 6-2-0 overall record. They had a 2-0 win at the Staples Center versus the Los Angeles Kings and a 5-2 loss versus the San Jose Sharks. Carolina will face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday in their last game on the west coast and then they travel to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday of next week. Necas looks to contribute even more in the near future and hopes to prove that he belongs in Raleigh, NC for months and years to come.