After trading away its first and second round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers first selection of the two-day event in Montreal was defenseman Marek Alscher of the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks.
In his draft season, the 18-year-old appeared in 61 regular season games with the Winterhawks, producing seven goals and 16 points, a plus-20 rating and racking up 48 PIM. Well regarded for his defensive play, Alscher helped the Winterhawks, who finished third in the Western Conference, finish with the fourth-best penalty kill percentage in the league.
Aischer suited up in all 11 of Portland’s postseason games (0 points, -5, 17 PIM) as the club was eliminated in seven games by eventual league champions Seattle after it swept Prince George in the opening round.
He also skated in eight international contests with Czechia’s U18 team, including four games at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Prior to coming to North America, the 6-foot-3, 196-pound Czech also played two seasons with the Pelicans U18 club in Finland, recording six goals and 18 points over 60 regular season games.
Alscher was rated 177th by NHL Central Scouting, #110 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM and #106 by FCHOCKEY, so being selected in the third round indicates that Bill Zito or a member of the scouting staff felt strongly about his potential, which is that of a reliable, punishing stay-at-home defender who can skate well.
Neutral Zone’s Ian Moran had this to say about Alscher:
We like that he can switch back and forth from the left or right side with ease. We feel he was most impactful as a penalty killer where his ability to hold the defensive blueline forced offsides and poor decisions. While shorthanded he used his reach to force bobbled pucks to continue moving along the wall which eventually lead to 200′ clears and timely changes. He also showed the athleticism to drop to a knee when blocking a shot without getting caught leaning or ending up off balance.
This evaluation has been provided by Neutral Zone, the premier amateur hockey recruiting site. If you would like to read additional scouting reports on NHL Draft selections and see more historical scouting reports on the draftees, you can subscribe to their site here. You can use the promo code SBNation25 to get 25% off your purchase.
Here’s Alscher scoring his first WHL goal back in October