Name: Zdenek Blatny
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Via Trade With Boston on 2/8/06 For Brian Eklund
Zdenek Blatny was selected in the 2nd round, 58th overall, of the 1998 CHL Import Draft by the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL at 17 years old after beginning his junior career with the Kometa Brno organization in the Czech Republic. As a rookie in 1998-1999 Blatny scored 18 goals and 33 points for Seattle. At season's end Blatny was rated the 36th best skater in North America by the NHL Central Scouting Service and in June of 1999 he was selected in the 3rd round of the Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. The following season Blatny was traded early in the year too Kootenay where he helped the Ice capture a WHL championship and advance to the Memorial Cup tournament. In 68 games between Seattle and Kootenay he scored 47 goals and 91 points in 68 games with 131 penalty minutes en route to being named a First Team All-WHL Eastern Conference All Star. In 21 playoff games that season Blatny scored a scintilating 12 goals and 27 points. In 2000-2001 he returned to Kootenay for his final season of junior hockey where he had 37 goals and 85 points with 120 penalty minutes in 68 games. Also in 2001, Blatny made his only appearance at the U-20 World Junior Championships for the Czech Republic scoring 5 goals and 7 points with a +8 rating in 7 games as the Czechs captured gold.
Blatny signed with the Atlanta Thrashers in the summer of 2001 and was initially placed with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. In his rookie year of professional hockey, Blatny split time between Chicago, where he had 4 goals and 7 points in 41 games, and Greenville of the ECHL where he had 5 goals and 10 points in 12 games. Blatny played just 3 playoff games that year while the Wolves won the Calder Cup as AHL champions. In 2002-2003 Blatny spent the full season in Chicago with 12 goals and 21 points in 72 games. In 2003-2004 Blatny made his NHL debut with the Atlanta Thrashers scoring 3 goals in 13 games. He also played 61 games with the Wolves that year notching 11 goals and 34 points in 61 games. During the lockout season of 2004-2005 Blatny split the year between the Lahti Pelicans of the Finnish SM-liiga where he played just 9 games for the cash strapped franchise, and Znojmesti Orli of the Czech Extraliga where he played 15 games. Atlanta, however, had chosen not to qualify Blatny and when the lockout lifted he received a tryout and eventually a contract with the Boston Bruins organization. In 2005-2006 Blatny was scoreless in 5 games with the Bruins and had 8 goals and 30 points in 35 games with the Providence Bruins of the AHL before being traded to the Lightning organization on February 8th, 2006 in exchange for goaltender Brian Eklund. The Lightning immediately assigned Blatny to the Springfield Falcons where he excelled on a line with Jason Jaspers and rookie Marek Kvapil score 14 goals and 29 points in 31 games. At year's end Blatny was recalled to Tampa for the team's playoff run to serve on the club's taxi squad.
Despite his modest production as a professional, Blatny was drafted for his considerable skill level as both a playmaker and a finisher. With Springfield, Blatny showed himself to be highly effective with time and space on the man advantage.
Blatny has carried the knock throughout his career of being a slightly less than average sized player with below average strength. He doesn't really excel in high traffic areas and has a tendency to be a perimeter player. He doesn't possess the above average skating ability a smallish player usually needs in the NHL to be a scoring line player. In the past, his defensive coverage has been criticized but he posted a very respectable -2 rating on a woefully outscored Falcons team.
2004-2005 was a breakthrough season for Blatny as a professional. Coming out of junior the Thrashers thought they possessed a sniping scoring line winger, but the numbers never materialized as a pro until last season with Providence and Springfield. His production may make him attractive to some European clubs, so the Lightning may have to compete to retain his services, but if he stays in North America expect him to compete for a spot with the team in training camp and, at minimum, be one of Springfield's offensive leaders next season.
Statistics Courtesy hockeydb.com
Profile Created 5/27/06 by Pete Choquette