After the San Jose Sharks signed a Czech defender yesterday, the Detroit Red Wings have gotten in on the action. The team has signed Libor Sulak to a two-year entry-level contract. Sulak played in two games in the recent World Championships for the Czech Republic.
This now marks the third defender signed from the Czech team this spring, following Radim Simek (Sharks) and Jakub Jerabek (who signed with the Montreal Canadiens). Jan Rutta is also expected to sign within the next few days, making a quartet of free agents coming out of a single tournament. While perhaps some of them were scouted during the season, it seems clear that the Czech defensive success—they allowed just 16 goals in 8 games and a tournament-low 151 shots against—has swayed teams around the league.
Sulak has played in Austria the past two seasons, scoring 28 points in 52 games this season. He was also awarded Rookie of the Year honors in the league last season. It was recently reported that the 23-year old had signed a contract to play in the Finnish Liiga; it’s now unclear whether he will spend next season in Finland or come to North America to join the Red Wings right away.
The contract could (and likely does) contain a European Assignment clause, meaning that the team could leave him in Finland for next season to allow him to develop, since the Red Wings are in a rebuild. Either way, adding a puck-moving defender who has a bit of a physical bite will be a beneficial move as they try to get the team back on track.