Martin Fehervary was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (46th overall) by the Washington Capitals. After spending most of his career playing in Sweden, the young Slovak began his American campaign this season. After an impressive rookie camp and preseason, the 20-year-old rookie made his Capitals’ debut this October.
After three games in Washington, Fehervary was re-assigned to the Hershey Bears to continue his development. A strong start to the year in Hershey has earned Martin (Marty) top defensive pairing minutes. With 8 points in 12 games (2g-6a), he currently leads all Bears rookies in points. That’s a pretty impressive transition from Europe to America.
When asked about why he went to Sweden instead of staying home in Slovakia, it was all about opportunity. Marty and his family believed that the opportunity in Sweden was better than it was back home, and that choice has certainly paid off.
“We realized when I was about 13 or something like that, with my father, that in Slovakia and the juniors, that the Hockey isn’t as great. We decided that if I had a chance, to move up north to Sweden or Finland. I got an opportunity to go north to Malmo. And I think it was a good choice.”
A start in Sweden was indeed the smart thing to do for Marty, in order to accomplish his goal of playing in the NHL. In the 2014-2015 season, he began his tenure with the Malmo Redhawks U16 Team. After working through the U16 and U18 teams, Marty made his SHL debut with the Redhawks just one year later.
From 2017 to 2019, Marty continued to improve on his play in the SHL. Playing for HV71 on loan, Marty’s play began to catch the attention of scouts around the NHL. The choice to go to Sweden was certainly the correct one.
Coming To America
Coming over to America and playing can often be a tough transition for players. For Marty, he seems to have adjusted almost effortlessly – starting the year in the NHL and proving to be able to handle that style of play as well as achieve the quality of play he’s been producing with the Bears.
The style of play in Sweden and North America is very similar. The pace is fast, and the league is very talented. Players can sometimes struggle when coming to North America. For Marty, however, he thinks it’s a little easier.
“The hockey in Sweden compared to North America, the style is very similar. It’s fast hockey, they skate really well so its fast hockey. It’s kind of the same, I would say here it’s a little bit faster but the adjustment was kind of easy so far.”
Despite a seemingly easy transition for Marty, there are a few notable differences between the AHL and SHL. Different leagues in different parts of the world will have some pretty noticeable differences in the style of play. One thing that is different in the SHL is the size of the rink. Playing on a bigger rink meant there was a different style of play. Here in North America, Marty needed to adapt to some of the changes of a smaller rink. But, having this smaller rink is what makes it easier for him.
“Yeah, I mean, in SHL of course, obviously a bigger rink. There’s not that much chipping the puck, they try to play more tape-to-tape and make more plays. So, like I had said the hockey here is a bit easier, like more chasing, more passing.”
Mr. Fehervary Goes To Washington
Marty started the year making his NHL debut on opening night in St. Louis. Despite not having any points, Marty proved that he was able to handle the play at the NHL level. Averaging around 14 minutes per game, Marty’s play was based on reliable defense and quality passing. He proved himself during his few games and for him the experience was great. Not only did it greatly boost his confidence, but the opportunity to play was a dream come true.
“It was a great experience. Obviously my confidence went up pretty high. It was my dream come true and I was really happy to make my NHL debut right away. So, I’m really happy, and I just try to keep up and play down here and do my best every day and do my best to get back to the NHL.”
Life of a rookie can be tough sometimes, but for Marty, but he felt welcomed instantly. In Washington, he felt comfortable knowing there were a few Czech’s and Slovak’s on the team that he was able to connect with. Another comforting point was being able to reconnect with his good friend Jakub Vrana.
Down in Hershey, Vitek Vanecek has been helping Marty adjust and get more comfortable. Vanecek has already spent more than three seasons in Hershey, so his experience and knowledge helped Marty feel more settled.
The Bears have a few notable veterans and players that have substantial experience. Matt Moulson, Christian Djoos and Liam O’Brien are just a few of the names that have a huge impact on younger players in the locker room and on the ice. For Marty, these guys share valuable experience. Through their play and leadership, they are helpful for the entire team, as well as for Marty.
“Great Experience. They obviously can just help us out. We have a lot of young players here, and guys like Moulson or Djoos have a lot of experience and they can just help us out.”
Off the ice, things have started to come around as well for Marty. As he begins to learn his away around the town of Hershey, he begins to feel more and more comfortable. Vancek has been one of his close friends, taking him out to local restaurants and helping him find some things to do around town. Back at his apartment, Marty and his roommate, Alex Alexyev, like to do a lot of things together, as well as spend time with some of the other players that live nearby.
“Vitek Vanecek, I spend a lot of time with him. We go for dinner sometimes; we are roomies on the trips too. I’m living with Alex Alexyev and we have a lot of fun at the apartment. And there are a couple more guys living close to us, so we are spending a lot of time together.”
I asked what it was like living with Alex. Alex is another one of the Capitals top prospects that’s new to the Bears this year. Alex and Marty wasted little time becoming close and are figuring things out together.
“We are really good friends. We try to help each other in the apartment. If we have to cook, we are cooking together and everything. Almost like in a relationship, kind of like we are married. Really good guy and he’s a really good friend.”
Off the ice, Marty enjoys spending time in the summer hanging out and fishing. Fishing for him is big stress relief, and he appreciates everything he catches. He really enjoys anytime back home on the lake relaxing.
“I love to spend the time back at home in Slovakia, I love Bratislava. And I love fishing a lot and spending time on the lake. My biggest fish this year wasn’t that big. But I really appreciate any fish that comes up and I can destress when I’m fishing so that’s the main thing.”
By Zac Hurr