After piling up 275 penalty minutes in just 48 games in the Czech Republic’s under-18 league in 2009-10, Richard Nedomlel came to North America this past season with a reputation for being tough.
But many wondered exactly how the 6-foot-4, 204-pounder’s toughness would stack up in the WHL, a league widely regarded as the toughest junior circuit in the CHL.
As it turns out, it stacked up just fine. Suiting up for the Swift Current Broncos as a 17-year-old, Nedomlel toned down his penalty-minute total to 107 in 66 games but dropped the gloves seven times as a rookie.
“He’s a big, rugged defenseman, and his coach (Mark Lamb) says he’s more of a North American than he is a European,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley. “He loves the physical part of the game.”
As his zero in the goal column indicates, Nedomlel is “limited with the puck,” according to Finley. But he did collect 10 assists and started earning power-play ice time toward the end of the season, which was enough net him the Broncos’ most-improved player award.
The Red Wings, who took him in the sixth round (175th overall) in Saturday’s NHL draft in St. Paul, Minn., see a big, mean, stay-at-home defenseman in Nedomlel.
“He’s big, he plays the game hard, and at the end of the day, he’ll be a shut-down guy,” Finley said. “He blocks shots, he throws open-ice hits, he likes to fight, and he plays a North American style of game.”
Nedomlel, who was ranked just 205th overall among North Americans by Central Scouting, had no guarantee of being picked. He’s certainly got a lot of work to do, but the Red Wings liked his progression throughout the season and put a lot of stock in a positive review from Lamb, who was a Philadelphia Flyers teammate of Finley.
The key in Nedomlel’s progression will be whether he learns to play within his limitations. That’s what the Red Wings will be watching for over the next two seasons.
“Guys who are limited skill-wise, you just have to have enough hockey sense to keep yourself out of trouble,” Finley said. “You have to keep things very simple and play to your strengths.
“You look at the progress throughout the year, with his size and physical game, and he has lots of upside.”