Of all the later round picks that Toronto made in the draft, Holinka seems like the least "out there". He was actually someone that scouts had their lists and scouting reports, even if they didn't consider him too highly. A few outlets and scouts had him ranked in the middle rounds, but others had him as a later round pick – and that's what he wound up being. In that sense, he is not a "steal" that slipped in the draft. Many outlets didn't rank him at all.

But that doesn't mean Holinka isn't interesting. Unfortunately, playing in Czech's junior league and even the pro league means I have no way of watching his older games to really see how he looks for myself. There are also very few highlights for me to watch, so I'll be relying almost exclusively off of other scouting reports.

That said, let's talk about who Holinka is as a player.


Position: Right-shot winger/center
League: Czechia U20/Czechia Pro
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 185 lbs
Birth date: Nov 10th, 2005


  • NHL Central Scouting: 31st (European skaters)
  • Corey Pronman: 79th
  • HockeyProspect.com: 87th
  • Upside Hockey: 95th
  • FC Hockey: 157th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 206th

Holinka has been outside of the top Czech prospects for his age group for a while. He's been good enough to be one of, if not the, top producing Czech forward in the leagues he's played in. Problem is, he's mostly played in their junior leagues, while top Czech prospects are either playing at the pro league at home, or in better junior leagues in Europe or North America. So he's basically in a tweener-tier between legit Czech prospects, and the no chance guys.

Case in point: this season, Holinka had the 2nd highest point per game pace in Czechia's U20 junior level – his 20 goals and 21 assists in 29 games gives him 1.41 ppg. The guy who had the most is an undrafted prospect who is 20 months older. He also added 14 points in 15 playoff games, good for a tie for 4th in the league behind all of his own teammates – all of whom were 20-21 years old. In the top Czech pro league, Holinka had 3 points in 16 games. That is the 4th highest ppg pace for U19 players, and he played in the 9th most games. Only five of those players are also NHL draft picks, and two of them were defensemen.

Holinka's first pro league goal

The other thing to know is that both his junior AND pro teams won the championships in their leagues. So he was excelling as the top player on his junior team, and good enough to get called up as an 18 year old on his pro team... but he was both young and not developed enough to get much playing time. Of the 16 games he dressed at the pro level, he played 10+ minutes only three times, the rest were in the 4-8 minute range.

Last year, Holinka played in 16 games for Czechia's U18 international teams, where he had only 2 assists. This season, he played in 7 total games for their U19 and U20 international teams, and had 10 points – so it was a bit of an offensive coming out party for him with his country's team. He was also played a lot – logging around or over 20 minutes in every game, including being used as a primary penalty killer and getting powerplay time. His play in his home country's domestic leagues and in the international tournaments was good enough to see him invited to participate with their men's national team at their first event of the year.

The other important thing is that, per Wes Clarke himself in the post-draft press conference, he expects Holinka to come to North America next season. He was an import draft pick by Waterloo in the USHL, and with the CHL import draft happening later today we'll see if he gets picked by one of them as well and has a choice of where to play. It also sounds like nothing is written in stone yet.


I'll say one thing before getting into the scouting reports – there's this weird tone across all of them that is a stark contrast from the description of Holinka's play. On the one hand, you'll see some great things written about how he's got great dangling skills, a really good shot, and is a good playmaker. He also gets great reviews for being a physical, shutdown, two-way center. In fact, that sounds like it is his best strength that will carry him to the pros more than his offense.

But on the other hand, the tone and ultimate conclusion of every scouting report on Holinka is that he could be a bottom six depth NHLer in the best case scenario, and likely not an NHLer at all. So some of them basically read as "he can dangle the pants off his opponents, rip a hard shot to beat goalies, then play a strong, physical, shut down center role the other way. Crap prospect, won't make the NHL".

That's an exaggeration for a joke, but it's not completely untrue from my perspective. And I only say this because I'm annoyed I have nothing to watch of Holinka so I can get a feel for him myself! I'm just going to hope he is part of Toronto's development camp later this month and their prospect tournament against Montreal before pre-season starts.

So let's start with Holinka's puck handling. There's this from the Elite Prospects' draft guide, which wrote more detail about his offensive skill but the same sentiments are shared by other scouts and outlets:

Holinka headed straight at defenders to dangle them in the U20 circuit. He succeeded more often than not, pulling off impressive toe-drag and backhand moves in the process. He worked around the net, getting more than his share of far-post tap-in goals, and he also showed a talent to beat the defence off the mark. His early drives up ice on breakouts enabled him to get past opponents and earn breakaways.
He created chaos, tried to be a difference maker, wasn’t afraid to carry the puck, zigzagged around. He can find teammates in different positions and situations. He showed his vision. Very active, especially during power plays. Used his range (extending his hand). Passing game was a plus. He scored an outstanding goal.

Then there's Holinka's two-way and defensive play that, by all accounts, is why his pro team called him up throughout the season more than his offense. From Samuel Tirpak at FC Hockey, in a scouting report from one of his games at the pro level:

Holinka is a two-way scoring center who plays smart positionally, has a really accurate shot, and showcases patience. He has abundance of hockey IQ and both offensive and defensive awareness. He is smart beyond his years, both on the puck with his decisions and off the puck with his positional understanding of where to be as a responsible center, even on a pro level. In this particular game, there is not much to dissect from offensive standpoint. He supported his linemates on offensive end in transition decently. Holinka perfectly showcased his positional awareness in this game, having nearly perfect defensive showing in a very limited role. He stood in right places, broke up multiple passing plays that would have ended in a scoring chance. He could use some work on his exit passes, which sometimes end up on opponent’s sticks in neutral zone. Skating could use some work in terms of technique, but his speed is good and he can build on that.

That touched on the final pillar to Holinka's game, which is his intelligence. This is something that Wes Clarke mentioned multiple times in his short answer about him: "High intelligence. He can zip the puck, a good shooter - real good shooter. Pretty good size. We really like his intelligence". That has obvious connections to explain his strengths as a two-way center on the defensive side, but it also drives some of his offensive impacts.

From Upside Hockey:

He is responsible and disruptive, with high-end defensive awareness and exemplary positioning. He won't cheat for offense, always supporting the play in all three zones, often being the first forward back in the zone and the last to exit on the backcheck. He's effective at taking away the middle, while breaking up plays with his body and stick, and supporting his D down low. At the other end of the ice, he demonstrates quality offensive instincts with excellent IQ and vision- he exhibits patience and makes sound decisions with the puck. He finds and creates open space, and draws defenders towards him to create seams for passing- he sees the ice well, and is a skilled passer.

To support that, here's a quote from HockeyProspect.com's Draft Guide:

The intelligence Holinka provides his team on the ice in the form of his craft two-way game shows up often in his defensive game with strong positioning and constant shoulder checks to know where his man is and being very active in coverage. He does not leave the zone early and supports his defensemen and wingers often in getting the puck out of the zone by finding holes as the puck begins to transition up ice. Offensively, his intelligence shows best down low where he can see the play and make passes with great vision to set his teammates up for good opportunities.


When looking at the detailed criticisms on Holinka's weaknesses to explain the ultimate conclusions of "long shot to make the NHL" despite everything else they say, there are two elements that stand out.

First, while Holinka gets good reviews for his nifty mittens, shot, and offensive skill for his play in the junior league, or even with his same aged peers internationally, some scouts call it out as not the kind of skill that projects well at the pro level. In that sense, his offensive game sounds like it is not very mature. It is not at all uncommon to see a flashy offensive player with a lot of points in junior leagues who never figures out how to be an impactful professional hockey player.

Reading into that, I get the impression that Holinka may have more flash than substance as of now, and hasn't yet learned how to harness that skill to make pro-level plays. HockeyProspect.com expressed concern that his skill shows mostly in open ice, and doubts it would work as well on smaller North American ice where he has less time and space.

The other issue that Holinka seems to have is he is still pretty raw and lacks refinement, specifically with mechanical elements of his game. His skating gets mixed reviews, and I can surmise that he manages to have good speed and agility but is still held back by some un-ideal mechanics. While he also got good reviews for physical play, that was reportedly a lot easier for him against juniors than at the pro level. 6'1" and 185 lbs is a good size, but basically at the high end of average. Getting stronger will help with a lot of his game, especially since he likes to play a physical, shutdown style as a center defensively.


Funnily enough, even though I haven't really seen him play at all yet, I actually get some Nikita Grebyonkin vibes from reading these scouting reports – both for his strengths and weaknesses. This would be the second straight prospect I'm saying this about, after Plesovskikh yesterday.

Of all their depth picks that I've researched, Holinka sounds the most intriguing and the 'best' as far as realistic chances of becoming something in the NHL. He may lack refinement, but it is not to a significant degree – not like the long road Johansson has to go physically to catch up with his age group, or the big developmental improvements Plesovskikh or McCue or the two 7th round defensemen.

Holinka is simply already further along his development path, and has a solid foundation as a two-way center. That makes his path to the NHL as a bottom six guy who can kill penalties much easier than most late rounders. The question of how good a bottom six guy he can become will depend on:

  • If he can stick at center
  • If he can improve his skating to becoming above average
  • If he can follow the path of David Kampf and become physically stronger than average
  • If he can learn how to harness his offensive skills to be used effectively in a bottom six, NHL role

I quite like the sound of Holinka after looking into him, and I really want him to play at their prospect camps and tournaments and come to North America. It will be a lot easier for me to watch him up close and personal.

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, The Athletic, and more.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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