Interview with Matej KaslikEurolanche spoke with the young Avalanche training camp invitee.
Matej Kaslik’s hockey career began in Púchov, from where he relocated to Sweden as a junior, playing parts of two seasons in three different leagues and two age categories. He’s already suited up for the Slovak national team, most recently at the most recent World Junior Championship, making his debut at the tournament. Matej spent the past season overseas for the very first time, playing for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens in the QMJHL, where he’ll be returning for the upcoming season as well. He was an undrafted camp invitee at the Colorado Avalanche’s training camp, an experience which he talks more about in his interview for Eurolanche.com.
How did you get invited to the Avalanche’s training camp? Was this your first NHL training camp?
Yes, this was my first NHL training camp. I was eyeing the draft, where I had a 50:50 chance of being drafted. Since no team drafted me, I received an invite to the Avalanche’s training camp about a day or two after the draft.
Did the coaches tell you what they expected to see from you during training camp?
Not really. Neither did they during rookie camp. They only told us to play our game, to work hard during each practice and every drill and to show ourselves in the best light possible. Basically, to give it our all.
What was the difference between this camp and, for example, junior team camps? Was the difference apparent?
It was pretty obvious how committed everyone was, since every hockey player dreams of making it to the NHL. The tempo was really quick, the conditions were already on NHL level, so the difference was pretty noticeable.
Did you get to interact with any first team players? If so, how were they? Did they give you any tips?
I met with multiple players, including the biggest stars like MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen and Makar. I got to watch them almost every practice, how they did their drills and everything. I wanted to learn as much as I could from them and I think it gave me a lot for my future career.
How satisfied were you with the two games you’ve played in? How did the coaches rate your performance?
Well, I was satisfied with both games. I mean, it could’ve been better, but I felt good on the ice. During the last meeting I had with the coaches, they told me that I’d played really well, that they liked what they saw and that this was the reason why I got invited to the main camp in the first place. They told me that I made a good impression.
With whom did you enjoy playing the most? Who did you get along with the best?
I spent most of the time with [Oskar] Olausson, since we’re both in the same age category. There were only a handful of Europeans, so we went to get dinner together and spent most of our time together both in and outside the arena.
Did you manage to go sightseeing in Denver and the surrounding area? Did you like it there?
I only managed to go sightseeing in Denver once. We lived pretty far away from the city, since we practiced there as well. Denver is really nice, although there were a lot of homeless people there. But I think downtown Denver is really something you have to see.
Did the team tell you why they chose to send you down to the juniors?
They told me that I did a great job and that they will keep monitoring me and my progress. We’ll play our first game this Friday, so I did kind of expect that they will send me down during the week.
What are your current goals? Do you believe that you’ll get drafted next year?
I think there’s a chance that I’ll get drafted, more so because next year will be my last year of eligibility. I hope that I’ll have a good season to have a better chance at signing with an NHL team, maybe even Colorado.
Younger players may dream of getting to the NHL as soon as possible. You’re still young yourself, but you already know how hard it really is. What advice would you give to younger players in this regard?
To work as hard as they possibly can during each practice, to keep improving and to never give up. There will be moments when things won’t go the way you’d want to, but you need to keep your head up and work even harder, to show your coaches that you want to keep getting better. Just keep working towards your goal of making it to the NHL.
We’d like to wish Matej all the best in his future career and thank him for this interview.
Original interview: David Puchovsky
Translation to English: Michal Hezely
Photo sources: ColoradoAvalanche.com, M.K. archive
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05/10/2021 - 22:00