There’s no way of knowing how high Marek Tvrdon might have been drafted had his season not ended in October.
All the Detroit Red Wings know is, they weren’t letting a potential 6-foot-2, 212-pound power winger slip past their 115th overall pick in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday, no matter how limited their viewing of him was in 2010-11.
“I thought a kid with his size, skating and skill, had he been healthy all year, probably would have been a second-round pick or higher,” said Red Wings WHL scout Jeff Finley. “I think had we not stepped up and taken him in the fourth round, he probably wouldn’t have been there and another team would have selected him.”
Tvrdon came over from Slovakia in August as the 13th overall pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft to play in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants. But he appeared in just 12 games — scoring six goals and five assists for 11 points — before being knocked out after an Oct. 16 game with season-ending shoulder surgery.
Finley was one of the select few scouts who saw him in the WHL, catching him once in the exhibition season and once in the regular season.
“He jumped right out at me with his size, his skating and his skill,” Finley said. “He’s a really good skater. He’s a similar player to (second-round pick and fellow Slovak) Tomas Jurco, to be honest. He’s really skilled and he’s a very good skater for his size.”
The Red Wings’ scouts in Slovakia and the Czech Republic gave Tvrdon rave reviews as an underager in 2009-10. He piled up 25 goals and 31 assists for 56 points in 45 games at the under-20 level in Slovakia that season and added three goals and an assist at the world under-18 championship.
The Red Wings also received assurance from Tvrdon that he’s back to 100 percent from surgery already and that he’ll be ready to go in the fall. Since he hasn’t played in almost a year, some patience might be required — but the hope is Tvrdon will eventually pick up where he left off last October and emerge as a high-end prospect.
“We’re rolling the dice on him,” said Red Wings director of scouting Joe McDonnell. “He’s got two more years out west with Vancouver and we’ve got lots of time. We’ll see what happens.”