Top 25 Under 25, #9: Filip Chlapik
The Czech forward jumps up 13 spots in this year’s rankings
No. 9: Filip Chlapik (Reader rank: 8, Last year 22)
To say that Filip Chlapik’s 2016-17 season was fantastic would be an understatement. The past year has been Chlapik’s coming out party, as the 48th pick from the 2015 draft broke out for 34 goals and 91 points in 57 games, plus another 19 in 13 playoff games.
Coming into the season, there were some concerns as to whether Chlapik would live up to his pedigree. His draft+1 points per game dropped to 1.04 after being 1.17 the previous year; a big red flag if you’re looking for improvement.
This all occurred while playing next to Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong, so there were questions as to whether Chlapik would be able to produce without Sprong on his wing. It didn’t go so well in 2015-16 during Sprong’s NHL call-up, although with Sprong starting the season with an injured shoulder, it was Chlapik’s time to shine. And shine he did, scoring 44 points in 27 games before his teammate’s return, including a jaw-dropping 21 game point streak to start the season for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders.
Digging a bit deeper into his stats, it appears that even though the QMJHL is a significantly higher scoring league than the OHL or WHL, Chlapik still rises above the competition. The following production snapshot comes from @Ziggy_21:
Chlapik ranks in the top percentiles for almost every category, including #1 for primary assists, which bodes well for the Sens’ prospect. It’s worth noting that prospect-stats.com lists Chlapik’s quality of competition in the bottom half of the league, whereas his quality of teammates is near the top. It’s a valid concern, although I think his stats from above far outweigh that impact.
Moving away from the numbers, the following quote is from Bill Placzek in 2015, for DraftSite.com’s draft report on Chlapik:
Displays good hockey sense and game and all the attributes to continue his developmental climb. Has good touch and strong puck control. Has good playmaking skills and makes good decisions and patience when carrying. Plays song on his skates and has good speed and first step quickness to go around defenders on the rush and then to the net. It is difficult to separate him from the puck. Works hard in his defensive zone and come back for make his defenseman’s outlet pass easier. A good back-checker. He still needs to get better offensively and also develop more lateral agility.
Sens assistant GM Randy Lee has given him high praise as well, calling Chlapik’s 2016-17 season “one of the biggest turnarounds of any player [he’s] seen in the last 5-10 years.”
Chlapik has also admitted to his big improvements, with the following quote in an interview with Silver Seven from October:
“When I was younger I never liked a real summer workout. I would just play sports and (do) other stuff. This summer, the first half, I don’t know, I was a little bit stupid. I had a bad development camp and they kind of ripped me. I had to change myself and I think I did it.”
There have been recent comparisons made to fellow Sens prospect Francis Perron, who despite tearing up the QMJHL in 2015-16 struggled to translate his game to the AHL this past season. Although their ages at the time are similar (Perron being two months older) and their production also similar (Perron’s 1.74 P/GP to Chlapik’s 1.60), there’s reason to worry that Chlapik may falter in his rookie pro season as well.
There are a couple differences that separate them, though, that may play in favour of the Prague, Czech Republic native. The biggest one is that although Chlapik’s only an inch taller (6’1” vs 6’0”), his off-season regime has seen him gain much more muscle, going up to 196 pounds compared to Perron at 165. The extra strength should make him adjust easier to the physical tone of the AHL, one area in particular where Perron struggled.
Expect Chlapik to get top six minutes to start the season in Belleville, presumably as the second line centre behind Colin White. He’ll be part of a large group of Sens prospects making their professional transition, which should hopefully give the B-Sens a much needed boost from their disappointing last place settlement in the North Division.
From finishing second in QMJHL points per game to going on a deep playoff run with Charlottetown (lost in the semifinals), there’s even more reasons to be hopeful for Chlapik as a future Senator. All this transpires into a solid prospect, one worth watching in the upcoming season.