Building the Herd – Tomas Karpov

#44 Tomas Karpov

Position: Forward

Born: Benešov, Středočeský kraj, Česká Republika

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 11th July


With the signing of Tim Burrows dealt with, we move along to what we’re led to believe is the final member of Doug Sheppard’s opening night roster for the 2013/14 Basingstoke Bison in the form of Czech forward Tomas Karpov who also joins from Telford.

24 year old Karpov burst onto the British scene last season when he joined the Tigers in January of 2013. Karpov’s arrival saw a turn around in fortunes for the Shropshire side and quickly raced up the scoring ranks and finished 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points in the 23 games that he played, meaning that having played less than half a season, he was 3rd top scorer on the side behind Scott McKenzie and his now Bison teammate, Tim Burrows.

Karpov started in the Sparta Prague junior system, making his debut at u18 level in 2003/04 where he made 4 brief appearances before playing with them full time from the following season until 2006. Karpov finished his tenure in u18 hockey with 76 points (29+47) from 89 games before he graduated to the u20 side for 2006/07. Karpov played 39 games, scoring 14 goals and 9 assists for 23 points before being loaned out to Berounsti Medvedi in the Czech 2nd tier, making 5 scoreless appearances.

Karpov’s attentions turned to Canada in 2007 when he was drafted in the 1st round (16th overall) by the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League in the CHL import draft. Karpov spent the next two seasons in the WHL playing 108 games and scoring 35 points with Moose Jaw alongside future NHL’ers like Frazer McLaren before he was traded to Calgary Hitman midway through the 2008/09 season. The Hitmen finished as the number one team at the end of the WHL’s regular season but lost in the WHL finals to Kelowna Rockets. In his time with the Hitmen, Karpov scored 9 points in 25 regular season games alongside an impressive 12 points from 18 playoff appearances.

Going undrafted to the NHL, Kaprov returned home to Sparta Prague for 2009/10 and made a few fleeting appearances for the senior side before being loaned out once again to Berounsti Medvedi again for most of the season, scoring 7 points in 39 appearances.

The following season Tomas spent much more time in the Extraliga. He continued his split between Sparta and Berounsti but only played 10 games in the 2nd tier whilst playing in 7 games of Sparta’s European Trophy campaign and 41 Extraliga games, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists.

The 2011/12 season saw Karpov loaned out again by Sparta, this time to Czech 2nd tier side Dukla Jihlava but he only last 18 games there. Karpov scored 1 goal and 3 assists in 18 games but after a game in December 2011 when Jihlava lost 8-0, the coach there wanted to shake up the squad and ended Karpov’s loan spell. He moved on another 2nd tier team Hradec Kralove to finish out the season scoring 2 points in 15 appearances and 3 points in 6 playoff games.

Karpov started last season with his 4th loan spell with Berounsti Medvedi, scoring 14 points in 22 games before his move to Telford.

Karpov represented the Czech Republic at the under 17 World Hockey challenge, scoring 3 points in 5 games as the Czechs won the 2005/06 bronze medal. He also played in the under 18 world championships in 2007 scoring 3 assists as the Czechs were eliminated in the group stages.

When rumours abounded about who the last Bison import would be a couple of names would crop up. Martin Masa entered the discussion briefly but was quickly put to one side in favour of two names; one was former EPL player of the year Janis Ozolins and the other was Tomas Karpov. I tweeted that I though Karpov was a more likely option as we were lacking that top line centre and it appears that Sheppard has gone that route.

It’s no big surprise that if you look back at the Tigers’ season, when Karpov appeared the Tigers were a better side. Scott McKenzie had some scoring support as well as a high class playmaker to help set him and others up.

Karpov played less than half a season but at the pace he scored worked out of a season, he’d have scored 33 goals and 89 points. Those are the numbers you want from a top line import centre. Tim Burrows paid tribute yesterday to Karpov’s playmaking being his strength which is a very important skill that was lost with the retirement of Greg Owen. Whilst Karpov isn’t as known for his two way game as the former GB international, someone who can make the passes and contribute as a primary offensive threat is what the Bison really need. The Bison were rightly accused at times of having too many people trying to lay the table and not enough people eating which hopefully Karpov can change. Karpov’s still relatively young and at 24 whilst he’ll be set into some routines in his game, like Burrows he’s still arguably going to be on the upswing. Handling a new team shouldn’t be an issue given his history but how he handles a full 54 game EPL season will be interesting to watch. The Bison don’t have the best of luck where injuries are concerned so hopefully Tomas doesn’t fall foul of that.

When you consider that Burrows, who yesterday said that the two would likely start the season playing on the same line is more of a goal scorer with a physical edge, the line of Karpov, Burrows and Connolly that Graham Merry put forward in the Gazette seems to be more and more likely. I personally think that Sheppard and Greener go with Miller and Rand with Chinn and Melachrino as an out and out 3rd line but in Karpov you have the play maker, Burrows is the more physical presence and Connolly is the more finesse side. Depending on what happens you can interchange Miller for Connolly on the wing for a more run and gun top line that won’t get knocked about as much.

So that’s it. The 2013/14 Basingstoke Bison roster is complete which feels really odd as it’s July. We all have about 10 weeks to play armchair coach and work out how this new team will be put together. Despite the optimism of some and gloomy predictions of others, the jury is out until September comes.

Until then welcome to the Herd, Tomas.


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