In what could prove a win-win scenario for team and player, the Sudbury Wolves boosted their complement of veteran forwards on Tuesday by signing Slovak right-winger Dominik Jendek, their second-round pick in the 2020 CHL Import Draft.
Jendek, a 19-year-old native of Bratislava, is expected to join the Wolves when they open training camp in mid-January, with an eye toward suiting up for Sudbury when the OHL regular season begins on Feb. 4.
He joined goaltender Frederik Dichow, a first-round pick in the 2019 import draft, in committing to the club for the upcoming campaign.
“It’s a positive sign,” said Wolves general manager Rob Papineau, reached on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re dealing with a pandemic here as a league, hoping to get things going in the new year, and here’s a guy on the other side of the pond who really wants to come over and play. That’s consistent with everything we’re getting from Freddy, as well, and I’m really happy about it. It speaks to our program and the work we have been doing here and we look forward to being able to meet him once we resume.”
Jendek, a speedy 6-foot-1, 180-pounder, is six games into his second season with Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia’s top professional league. He has represented his country internationally at both the U18 and U20 levels, and is likely to do so again at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Though he has acquitted himself well in a men’s league, Jendek has a chance to earn attention from professional teams on this side of the Atlantic, after being passed over in the NHL Entry Draft. He’ll add a veteran presence in the Sudbury dressing room, on a team that ought to be young up front.
Only two other 2001-born forwards, Blake Murray and Kosta Manikis, are currently expected in camp.
“If you look through the whole league, it’s one of those birth years that’s not in a surplus,” Papineau said. “When we going through the draft this year, we thought that in that second round, we really had an opportunity to address that particular year, and Dominik does that for us. He’s really excited to come over.”
Jendek certainly seemed enthusiastic in his response to the signing, and eager to become the first Slovak skater since Adam Ruzicka, in 2018-19, to don the blue, white and grey of the Sudbury Wolves.
“I’m really excited that I was drafted by such a great organization such as the Sudbury Wolves,” Jendek said in a statement. “I can’t wait to join the team and play with this group of guys. I will try my best to reach our goal of winning the Memorial Cup. See you soon, Wolves fans.”
Papineau expects Jendek to fit right in with the up-tempo style favoured by head coach Cory Stillman.
“He plays the game fast,” Papineau said. “He’s a guy who’s hunting pucks all the time. His speed is probably the thing that jumps out at me the most, and the passion he plays with. The energy he brings to the hockey team will be excellent and we look forward to seeing him here.
“Like with everyone who comes over, there’s always an adjustment to the new country, to the culture, to the small ice, but he’s got some experience, having played in some international events over here, so it won’t be that new to him.”
Sudbury retains the rights to Finnish right-winger Samu Tuomaala, its first-round pick in this year’s import draft, while Czech left-winger Matej Pekar remains protected on an overage list.
Even in a different time and a different format, Papineau expects a competitive camp.
“You look at the way our team was going last year, our young guys picked up some great experience and our older guys really took a step. We won the division for the first time in a long time and that speaks volumes about the commitment of these players, and we’re expecting that same culture to roll into when training camp opens in mid-January.”