The New Jersey Devils have announced that they have made a trade to acquire forward prospect Petr Straka from the Philadelphia Flyers. In return, the Flyers will receive a conditional seventh-round pick in either 2017 or 2018. Straka played in three NHL games in 2014-15, recording two assists and four hits.
A second-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010, Straka has failed to live up to expectations thus far in his young career. The Czech winger put up strong numbers in his junior career in the QMJHL, beginning with a better than point-per-game first season with Rimouski Oceanic in his draft year and ending with 82 points in 55 games in his fourth and final season in 2012-13 after a trade to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Having outlasted his entry-level contract and earned free agent status, Straka chose to sign in Philadelphia. However, the transition to the pro game has not gone smoothly. In his first AHL season, with the now-defunct Adirondack Phantoms, Straka had just 27 points in 60 games. Although his next season was even worse – 24 points and a -20 in 68 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Straka earned a call-up to Philadelphia in 2014-15 and showed off his both his speed and grit in an impressive three-game tryout. It wasn’t enough to earn him a full-time role with the Flyers though, as Straka did not see any NHL action in 2015-16. He did see an improvement in his game last season, scoring 37 points and finishing on the right side of +/- for the first time in his AHL career.
Whether due to an undisclosed injury or if he had simply fallen out of favor in the Flyers organization, Straka has yet to suit up for a game this season, a scratch for every single game. Following the trade, Straka has been assigned to the AHL’s Albany Devils where he will hopefully be able to get back out on the ice. While Straka’s skill has not yet fully shown up on the ice at the pro level, he does possess a lot of raw talent, a smooth game, and an invaluable intensity. A change of pace may be exactly what the former top prospect needs to finally get his career back on track. At the cost of a seventh-round pick, the Devils have made a low risk/high reward deal for a player that still has potential.