Washington Capitals defensive prospect Martin Hugo Has (pronounced Hash) was a man on the go last season. After beginning the season in Finland, Has ended his 2019-2020 campaign with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. In the end, Has would play for no less than six teams during the 2019-2020 season.
After being selected 153rd overall in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals, Martin Hugo Has was then selected by the OHL Battalion in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2019 CHL Import Draft. (Clubs in the OHL are permitted two imported players on their roster). Has was one of just 12 players selected by CHL teams, that were already drafted by NHL organizations.
A big two-way defenseman at 6’-4”, 190 pounds, Has spent 2014-2017 with the HC Sparta Praha program, appearing in 88 games, collecting 15 goals and 24 assists, all while often competing against players two and three years older than him.
For the next two seasons, Has played with the Tappara U20 team in the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, playing in 84 games and registering 32 points.
Has began the 2019-2020 season with the Tappara U20 team, scoring a goal in two games, but was subsequently called up to Liiga with Tappara for five games. Has had a goal and an assist before being loaned to Koovee in the Finnish Mestis League, where he played in 13 games, registered a goal, and was +4.
Has then left Koovee for the World Junior tournament where he played on Czech Republic’s top defensive pairing, registering a goal and three points in five games. Following the World Junior Championship, Has was loaned to the North Bay Battalion, where he played one game before being traded to the Guelph Storm.
Has ultimately decided to move his game to North America, as suggested by the Capitals, in order to begin acclimating to North American hockey, and to have more of a direct relationship with the Capitals player development staff.
The following is a translation of certain portions of a recent interview with Hokej.cz.
The tall defenseman went overseas after two and a half years in Tampere. But his move had – at least from a layman’s point of view – very strange circumstances.
Although he agreed with Guelph, he first had to play one game for North Bay, who drafted him. That’s what the rules of Canadian junior hockey say.
I understand that it has to be, but it still looks weird and funny …
“Yeah, it was pretty hectic. I think it was Saturday: I had to fly to Finland and pack my things there. That day I flew from Tampere to Helsinki. I slept there and flew to Toronto at six in the morning, where I was picked up by North Bay. I went there for about eight hours and slept. The next day was a game. Then I drove back to Guelph. Actually not even there, the coach picked me up on the way and we went to Kingston, where we had training and the next day we played. It was very rushed.”
How much did you actually play in that “compulsory” game?
“I played about three shifts every period to make it according to the rules. I don’t know who invented it, but these are just the rules and they must be followed.”
Why did you actually decide to go overseas?
“I was in Finland for two and a half years and it helped me a lot, both in terms of hockey and to become a better person. But the Tappary men’s team is one of the best and there are very many good, older players there. Because they go to the title every year, they can’t afford to try the younger ones at all. And I just wanted to play as much as possible. I think choosing a Canadian junior team was a good choice, I could have the ice time I needed.“
What quality was the Finnish junior actually?
“It’s great, but it was like … Not children’s, but very technical. Not much was played with the body. To get closer to guys who already play a lot in the body, I needed physical hockey, which is played in Canada. Of course also technical, but it’s just a bigger league.”
Did you like Guelph? Did you believe before the finish of the season?
“We had a period where we lost about ten games in a row. But again, I think it would help us in the playoffs. Because we knew what it was like to be at the bottom. We knew what not to do. Then we started winning and I think we found each other again. The goalkeeper (Nico Daws) healed us, it helped a lot.”
So you were very disappointed about the pause?
“It was a pity. I was really looking forward to the real Canadian playoffs, unfortunately it turned out like this. I hope that nothing like this will happen next year, we will be able to play the playoffs properly and go as far as possible.”
How much contact did you have with Washington during the season, who drafted you last year?
“We always have to send them every week what we did well and what we need to improve. Two-minute writing that they don’t even answer, they just want to know if we mean it. They’re definitely watching games. For example, when we played against London, where McMichael is, who is also in Washington. They went there a lot. Then they wondered if we perceive how we play. And maybe once a month we called someone from Washington and talked about it.”
How much did you decide on moving across the ocean? Did they (Capitals) want it that way?
“They said that if I went to Canada, where they could have more supervision over me, it would probably be better. They would definitely send someone to Finland, but he couldn’t be there for so many games.”
And did you get feedback from them, how satisfied are they with your development?
“Just as we sometimes call, they always tell us. They say good things, but they also say bad ones, which I think is even better. They know what they are doing. When they tell us, we just have to try to work on it.”
How do you remember the World Cup from the beginning of the year?
“It was in the Czech Republic, which just won’t happen to us. Although we could have played better, the game with Germany in the group is probably very sorry for all of us, but at least we know that no one can underestimate them. We have to learn from that and go one hundred to one hundred and twenty percent into each subsequent match.”
Okay, but let’s say you “redeemed” the defeat with the Germans in advance against the Russians, and you managed to score with the Americans. Are you tired of the quarterfinals with the Swedes, who quite overtook you?
“Yeah, it was hard. They played great, the whole tournament was very well played. We had them in the preliminary game, and we already saw how good they are. We could have prepared better for them.”
Do you think that the team that is being formed now has the opportunity to return Czech hockey to a medal position?
“Yeah, I believe the coach will have a hard time choosing us. But he will definitely choose it so that the team will be strong, will stick together and will be able to beat even the strong teams in this way.”
Do you see any difference there compared to last year’s team led by the year 2000?
“I think that last year we had, for example, Jakub Lauk and Jan Jeník, which were such individuals who could take it on and decide. There is no one better or worse on this team. Our strength should be when the lines play together.”
Do you know each other well?
“We know a lot with the boys of the year 2001. In 2002 they are Jan Myšák and Nick Malík, whom we also know. They will only benefit our team. Or Pavel Novák, who had a great season in Canada.”
You can read the interview in its entirety here.
By Jon Sorensen