Maxim Strbak – 2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Maxim Strbak

2022-23 Team: Sioux Falls Stampede
Date of Birth: Apr. 13, 2005
Place of Birth: Kosice, SVK
Height: 6-foot-2, Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right
Position: D
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible


Maxim Strbak has the attributes organizations covet when it comes to which prospects they draft. He is a big, two-way defenceman who is durable and has some physicality to his game. A player with a strong track record of success against older competition, he is set to join and play a key role for a strong Michigan State University team next season that already has multiple NHL-drafted players committed for the 2023-24 campaign.

2023 NHL Entry Draft Guide Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli
Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli (The Hockey Writers)

Starting in the defensive zone, Strbak is great at clearing out the crease and staying in the proper position to defend. His physical play can separate the opposition from the puck, while his stick positioning helps cut off passing lanes, especially on the penalty kill. He doesn’t back away from a challenge and has shown he can shut down the opposition’s top line on a consistent basis.

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In the offensive zone, Strbak has a good shot but has to learn to use it more. This year in the United States Hockey League (USHL), he only recorded 77 shots on goal despite being given a good amount of time on the power play. As for his playmaking skills, he knows how to scan for open teammates and can deliver tape-to-tape passes that lead to scoring chances. While his offensive game does need more time to develop, it is on the right track as he continues to adjust to the North American-sized ice surface.

Strbak has one of the most impressive international careers in this year’s draft class. A two-time member of Slovakia’s World Junior team, he recently captained his country at the U18s, where he averaged over 25 minutes a game and was named one of the top three players on his team for the tournament. It is clear he loves playing for his country and seems to elevate his play whenever he has the Slovak crest on his jersey. Expect him to remain a part of Slovakia’s World Junior team over the next few years, with his role continuing to expand each tournament.

Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide

If Strbak is going to be successful moving forward, he needs to work on being patient with the puck in his own zone. When the puck is on his stick, and he has an opposing player pressuring him, he has been known to make dangerous passes trying to clear the puck that results in interceptions or icings. Composure with the puck is key, especially at the NHL level, so this will be a trend to watch as he transitions to the NCAA next season.

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Maxim Strbak – NHL Draft Projection

Strbak’s recent play at the U18s should help his draft stock, as he was one of the best defenders in the tournament. It may not be enough to make him a first-round selection but should ensure he drops no further than the middle of the second round. Expect his name to be called somewhere in the 35-45 range.


“Strbak is a defenseman who uses his defensive mindset to take time away from his opponents with good positioning and aggressive checking. He often scans his surroundings, and his gap-control is strong. He usually knows when to step forward to stop a potential rush and when to fall back and maintain position.”- Erik Sjolund, FC Hockey.

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“Strbak doesn’t produce much offense, but he uses his size and skating to cut corners off and limit high-danger chances. If he makes the NHL, it’ll be in a more defensive, support role, and he’ll thrive in that situation.”- Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff.

“Strbak is an intriguing defenseman who adds layers of deception into his game to make him an unpredictable transition player. He exhibits poise with the puck under pressure near the blue line and does well at moving along that line to create different looks.”- Aaron Vickers, FC Hockey.


  • Clearing out the front of the net
  • Physicality
  • Defensive positioning
  • Durability

Under Construction – Improvements to Make

  • Skating
  • Patience with puck
  • More consistent shot generation

NHL Potential

If developed properly, Strbak has the potential to be a second or third-pair defenceman that plays on the penalty kill and could be an option on the power play. His defensive game is strong, and he has shown on multiple occasions that he can successfully defend older and tougher competition. He is an intriguing prospect that, if he reaches his full potential, will be a pain to play against every night.


Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 5/10, Defense – 7.5/10

Achievements & Awards

  • 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup Silver Medal
  • 2021-22 U18 SM-sarja Silver Medal
  • 2022 U18 WJC (D1A) Gold Medal
  • 2023 U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team

Maxim Strbak Stats



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