Add a pair of young defensemen to the ever-growing list of players heading to Europe to begin their 2020-21 seasons. Michael Kosturik of Czech source iSport reports that the New York Rangers’ Libor Hajek and the Boston Bruins’ Jakub Zboril with join HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga ahead of the start of the NHL season. Hajek, 22, is under contract with the Rangers for the coming season and the two teams are currently hammering out the details on a short-term loan. Zboril has joined the squad on his own accord as an impending restricted free agent. However, Kosturik does add that the Bruins are interested in an extension with the first-round prospect. Zboril has played in just two games for Boston, but has been a steady, consistent defender for the AHL’s Providence Bruins over three pro seasons. Hajek on the other hand played the majority of his games with New York this season and has 33 NHL games total on his resume. While offense has been hard to come by at any level, Hajek is growing into a reliable stay-at-home defenseman. The pair will provide a major boost to Brno to begin the season, who at this point have not been able to recruit any other NHLers on short-term loans or contracts.
- Long-time NHLer Tomas Plekanec played last season in Brno, but will now return to Rytiri Kladno of the Czech 2nd League, with whom he spent part of the 2018-19 season. Due to family reasons, Plekanec announced last month that he would be leaving Brno to return to his hometown of Kladno. However, it was unclear whether he would continue playing or not. Plekanec was very successful last season with 33 points in 50 games, but at age 37 no one would have been surprised to see him opt to retire. Yet, it seems his friend and legendary player-owner of Kladno Jaromir Jagr, 48, has convinced him to give it one last try – or more accurately two – as the club has announced a two-year deal with Plekanec. Plekanec and Jagr worked hard to get Kladno elevated from Czech2 to the Extraliga in 2018-19 only for the team to be relegated this past season in Plekanec’s absence. The duo will undoubtedly have their sights set on getting the club back to the top level again this year.
- One former NHLer who is calling it a career is defenseman Alexander Sulzer. Sulzer, 36, played in 131 NHL games with four teams over seven seasons in North America. One of the best defensemen to ever come out of Germany, representing the country twice at the Olympic Games, Sulzer returned home to play in the DEL in 2014-15. He spent five seasons with Kolner Haie before moving to Dusseldorfer EG last season. However, he never played for the team as he required surgery to remove a tumor on his spine last summer which caused him to miss the entirety of the season. In the year since his operation, Sulzer has come to the decision not to try to return to play and the DEL announced that he has officially retired. A big, balanced defenseman, Sulzer made an impact in the NHL and an even greater impact in his native Germany over a long career.