Friend of the Rink and Habs Eyes on the Prize contributor Patrik Bexell recently caught up with Caps’ prospect and 2018 draftee Martin Fehervary about the World Juniors, his development, and his NHL hopes. Enjoy!
PB: You joined one of the top teams in Sweden, HV71, this season - how do you feel this has benefited your development?
MF: I mean it is probably one of the best leagues in the world. Of course NHL is my dream, but I think SHL is great for young players to develop in our own ways. It helps me in every way. I try to get more confidence in every game, and get better.
PB: In what area do you think you have developed the most this season - the understanding of the game at a faster pace, or developing your body to that pace?
MF: I want to say every way, but its probably how I understand the game better. It was my second year of senior hockey, last year I was in HockeyAllsvenskan. SHL is way different, of course. The pace is also a bit different. I mean I try to get better in every situation and, as I said, I think the best thing is that I understand hockey more. There are a lot of skilled players and you have to read the game at a higher pace.
PB: You just returned from the World Juniors, a little bit disappointing from Slovak point of view.
MF: It was a really tough group, I am not going to complain but that’s probably how it is. We get tough opponents. Disappointing as it was my last year in the juniors, but that’s hockey. I hope to make it a bit different at a senior level.
PB: When you look at development in Slovakia, is it better to go abroad like Canada or as in your case Sweden rather than stay in Slovakia and go the Slovan Bratislava/KHL route?
MF: If you look at most of the guys Christian Jaros and Peter Cehlarik they have also played in Sweden; most of the other Slovak guys that play on the top level also went to some different country for development. I totally agree that Sweden and Finland are really great for the development of players. I am really happy with my choice of going this way.
PB: How much input do you get from Washington Capitals during a season?
MF: We talk every Monday, I do a questionnaire, and actually this game one of the managers watched me in the arena, so we are in contact a lot. I think it’s very good. They tell me to work on everything, to be more competitive, a lot in hockey is about competing. I just need to get better, and there is a lot of things I need to do better and I think HV is a great place to improve.
PB: Do you have your own timetable for the NHL?
MF: I don’t really have a schedule - we have been talking about “my way”. They want me here this season and then we will see what happens next season. I have signed a contract, and I am really happy with that, so we will see how they decide to go from here.
PB: Any favourites in the NHL?
MF: I have a lot of favourites. One of mine from a young age is Lubomor Visnovsky; another is Andrej Sekera. All the Slovak players really. Another one is great John Carlson and then Michal Kempny. I like his kind of game, he is a great two-way player and that’s what I like to be.
PB: You’ll have playoffs in Sweden and then World Championships in Slovakia with Slovakia. That will be special, right?
MF: Of course I hope to push for a spot, and I work hard for it. I was on the team last year and there is nothing sure this year - as it’s a home championship, a lot of guys want to come home to play in front of our fans. For sure it will be unbelievable. I hope I will make it. With the Ondrej Nepela arena full with our great fans, I still remember playing the U18’s at home, our fans makes it so special.
After chatting with Fehervary, Patrik also got the chance to speak with his HV71 coach, Stefan Lundh:
PB: How do you feel [Fehervary] has developed this season with HV71?
SL: I think he is a real modern defenceman, he is a good skater and likes to take the puck from his own end to the offensive zone. He has a good shot and I like that kind of defender, especially as he never backs off from something. He puts a lot of pressure on the opposing forwards, and he is a very physical guy too. I think he has done a good transition from day one here.
PB: You are using him in many different situations on the ice, has he matured in his game too?
SL: Absolutely, he has really earned his ice time and and he makes progress every day and every game, and its thanks to that he gets even more ice time. I trust him in every shift so its easy to give him more shifts.
PB: His progress is good but do you see him benefiting from this year in Sweden, even with the fact that he has a contract with Washington?
SL: Absolutely, I know Martin will make it in the NHL, of course I hope he will stay for another year. Because sometimes I feel that the young guys goes maybe a year to early. He can do it. He is already playing on a very high level, he played very good in the Slovak national team so it wont be a problem. He might even be better on a small rink.