By Warren Kozireski —
When NHL teams get to the later rounds of the NHL Draft each year, many turn their focus to what can be described as project players. These are those with size or skating ability or great hands or compete level who may take some extra time to develop into professional prospects.
The New York Islanders have one of those in their 6’4”, 194 lb. right shot defenseman Tomas Machu, who they selected in the seventh and final round of the 2021 draft.
Now in his third season after arriving in the U.S. at 18 years old from his native Czechia, Machu is wearing an “A” this season for the defending Clark Cup Champions.
“I was real interested in playing college hockey…I’m still deciding (where),” Machu said. “(Last year) was great; we had a great team, but it’s in the past so just trying to focus on this year to defend the championship. We have a great team again this year and we’ll do everything we can to win the Clark again.”
“It’s been an honor to wear an “A” for this team, so I’m trying to help the younger guys.”
Likely more of a defensive defenseman going forward who can use his great reach, Machu had four goals with ten assists last season over 57 regular season games and added a pair of assists during the playoff run.
He was out for the vast majority of the final four minutes helping his team defend a one-goal lead against Muskegon.
“Just try to do my job and shut other teams down,’ Machu said in early December. “Obviously I want to be very good at defense and move the puck well, so yeah, obviously doing my job.
“I understand my role to play good defense. (Working on) my skating, my shot and puck touches and moving the puck well to try to (create) offense.”
Machu did not attend the NHL Draft when he was selected by the Islanders, but will forever remember the moment, though it happened in the wee hours of the morning back home.
“ I was watching with my parents and then got a call from the Islanders, so it was real nice and it’s been an honor to get drafted so trying to work as hard as I possibly can.”
Machu turns 21 years old in March and will begin the next phase of his hockey development likely with a Division I college program yet-to-be-determined as of early December. He will bring a team-first, championship pedigree to whichever program that is.
(Photos Provided by Youngstown Phantoms)