The most important player for the upcoming men’s 2023-2024 hockey season has to be Jaroslav Chmelar ’26. This kid is a beast, sitting at 6’5” and 221 pounds; I do not know how anyone could stop him driving to the net at full speed. His strong frame and quick release was not overlooked as Chmelar was selected in the fifth round, 144th overall, in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.
Chmelar hails from Nove Mesto nad Metuji, Czechia, and has recently played for the Czechia National Junior Team during the 2022 and 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships. In the 2022 tournament, he faced off against fellow Friars Brett Berard ’25, Riley Duran ’25, and the head coach of Team USA and PC, Nate Lehman. Across the two tournaments, Chmelar had four goals and two assists for six points in addition to taking home a silver medal in the 2023 tournament, where Czechia was beaten in overtime by Team Canada 3–2.
In his freshman season, playing 33 games, Chmelar totaled seven goals and six assists while recording a team best .132 shooting percentage. He played well to his size and was the best overall freshman in Providence’s recruiting class.
The best way for Chmelar’s talent to be utilized is to be the number one scoring option on his line and the powerplay. His shot was powerful as a freshman, and if he plays a similar location on the powerplay like Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak do, odds are the goalkeeper will not be quick enough to stop a one-timer launching from his stick.
I am predicting that the Czechian will score 20 goals, register 13 assists, and will crack the top ten scoring leaders of the season when it ends. With his offensive production, Chmelar will help guide the Friars back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019.