Derek OBrien

HC Sparta adds offence and experience

After a disappointing finish to the 2018/19 season with a very young team, HC Sparta Praha has signed several players aimed at returning the team to the top of the Czech Extraliga. Many of the names are very familiar to fans of Czech hockey and should give the team some added offence.

Vladimír Růžička Jr.

While his father is a bigger name in Czech hockey, Vladimír Jr. has established a notable career for himself. The product of cross-town rival HC Slavia Prague has spent the past five seasons playing for his father in Piráti Chomutov, where he became a top-line player. Last season, he had 39 points in 50 regular-season games. With over 600 Extraliga games under his belt, 30-year-old Růžička brings a veteran presence to Sparta.

Matúš Sukeľ

At 23 years old, speedy Sukeľ has played most of his career in his native Slovakia to this point, save for part of a junior season in Finland. Last season, he played in the KHL for Slovan Bratislava, where he registered 18 points (10+8) in 60 games. Playing on home ice in the World Championship, he showed a goal-scoring touch, scoring five goals in seven games.

David Dvořáček

A Sparta youth player, 27-year-old Dvořáček comes home after making a few previous appearances here on loan. Having spent the bulk of his professional career so far in the second-tier Chance Liga, Dvořáček is now ready to take the next step in his career and establish himself as a full-time Extraliga forward.

Martin Dočekal

Dočekal, 28, has become an everyday Extraliga centre the past few years on a strong Kometa Brno team, winning two national titles over the past three seasons. Now, the Třebic native will bring that winning attitude to the capital. At 196cm and 94kg, Dočekal not only brings a physical presence to Sparta, but he has a scoring touch as well.

Michal Řepík

A veteran right winger with over 200 games in each the AHL and KHL, and with experience in the Winter Olympics and four World Championships, Řepík might be Sparta’s most notable off-season signing. Like Dvořáček, Řepík is a Sparta youth product, and he came back here for a two-year stint earlier in the decade. Now, the 30-year-old is back home and ready to become one of the team’s offensive leaders.

Marek Kvapil

Veteran winger Kvapil has never played for Sparta before, but Sparta fans know very well who he is. The veteran of the KHL and Extraliga is now 34 years old but shows no signs of slowing down, as he just put up a career-high 57 points with Bílí Tygři Liberec, which was second in the league. Two years ago, Kvapil led the league in scoring and won a title with Kometa Brno as a teammate of Dočekal. Internationally, he was on the most recent Czech teams to win a medal at a World Junior Championship (2005) and a gold medal at the World Championship (2010).

To make room for these newcomers, inevitably some players have to leave. Among the players going elsewhere are Canadians Zach Sill and Steven Delisle, Swedish defenceman Jacob de la Rose, and Czech forwards Lukáš Klimek and Matěj Beran. As well, veteran forwards Jaroslav Hlinka and Petr Kumstát have retired.

To see Sparta’s current roster, click here.

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