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Leafs invite Alan Lyszczarczyk to development camp

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Now that the draft is over, it's time to sift through the remains for gems that got missed.

Alan Lyszczarczyk
Alan Lyszczarczyk
Sudbury Wolves

Who is Alan Lyszczarczyk?

Therein lies a tale. Lyszczarczyk is the 18 year old son of Dariusz Lyszczarczyk, who had a long hockey career in Nowy Targ, a town in southern Poland near the Slovak border. The Lyszczarczyk family moved to the US, to Wallington NJ, but when Alan was ready for junior hockey, he went not to Nowy Targ, or to a New Jersey team, but to the Czech Republic to a small town called Chumatov.

He played through the junior ranks there for three years where he scored a lot. He led his team in points his last year by almost 20 over his nearest rival. He led the Czech U18 league in points, and was fifth in goals, only three off the top man.

But his parents still lived in America and that meant he did not have to go through the import draft to move to the OHL. The Sudbury Wolves signed him as a free agent for this past year, and he had the challenge of moving up to a drastically higher level of play, figuring out English, when he'd been successfully figuring out Czech prior to that, and learning to dream big.

In October of 2015, Ben Leeson of the Sudbury Star chronicled his early struggles for the Wolves:

"It was a big difference from Czech hockey," said Lyszczarczyk, using teammate and fellow Czech speaker Pavel Jenys as a translator. "The hockey is faster and the guys are bigger and stronger, so it was a big difference for me."

He was pointless through his first six games, and even sat out one game as a healthy scratch while other youngsters jostled for a place in the pecking order.

But then the Wolves, with a nod to their youth movement, elected to cut veteran forward Charley Graaskamp. A top-six spot opened for Lyszczarczyk and he skated right into it.

He provided good energy in the offensive zone and contributed to an improved forecheck two weeks ago. Then, while skating on a line with Jenys and fellow rookie David Levin, Lyszczarczyk finally found his scoring touch last weekend, collecting his first four OHL points in the span of three contests.

He finished the year in Sudbury 66th in points in the OHL with 17 goals and 33 assists, and some modest draft buzz. He was also third on his team in points, seventh in the OHL amongst rookies.

He also represented Poland in their U18 tournament, where they won gold, and was a late cut from the men's team for the IIHF Division I-A tournament.

He wasn't drafted today. Only two players from the Wolves were, Michael Pezzetta at 160, and Dimitry Sokolov at 196 (Sokolov had only two more points than Lyszczarczyk, as did highly sought prospect Max Jones.). The Wolves were not good this year, finishing last in their conference and second last in the OHL.

It's not uncommon for undrafted prospects to be immediately snapped up for NHL teams' development camps after the draft. A goalie from the IceDogs was invited to the Red Wings camp today as well.

The Draft Analyst had this comment about him:

He can play in the trenches and shows interest in fighting tooth and nail for loose pucks, but building upper-body strength and learning the intricacies of three-zone play will make him tougher to deal with beyond the puck artistry and hard shot. Lyszczarczyk is at this point a one-dimensional point producer who can be entrusted with power play duties but nothing during penalty kills and late-game lead holds.

He was listed by NHL Central Scouting at 134 in North American skaters. And he's 6' tall and 183lbs according to Elite Prospects.

He's obviously a rough gem of some kind, with an unusual background, we may need to get used to. The KHL is opening up opportunities for pro hockey jobs all over Europe and Asia. We should expect to see players from backgrounds as unusual as this so often, we'll stop calling it unusual.

But for now, it looks like the Leafs have found something everyone else missed out on. Leafs development camp gets under way in Niagara Falls on July 4.