February 05, 2015
Petr Prucha appeared on the NHL scene seemingly out of nowhere. He then disappeared suddenly, too.
The spunky, undersized Czech winger (he played both sides) was a late round pick of the New York Rangers in 2002. By the 2005-06 season, shortly after helping his country win the World Championships gold medal, he scored 30 goals as a NHL rookie (including 12 goals in 13 games in December). Disappointingly, a February knee injury cost him a chance to play at the Olympics.
A strong skater and nifty stickhandler, he excelled on the Rangers power play taking passes from his idol, Jaromir Jagr. 16 of his goals were scored on the power play.
Unfortunately for Prucha, Brendan Shanahan's arrival in New York the following season cost Prucha his spot on the top power play unit. His goal totals fell to 22 on the season, with just 8 on the power play.
Prucha mysteriously fell out of favor in New York after that. He scored just 7 goals in 2007-08 and was a frequent healthy scratch. Part way through the 2008-09 season he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Prucha never got untracked in Phoenix either. By the end of the 2010-11 season he was out of the league entirely, playing in the KHL.
Petr Prucha wasn't the first hot shot to dazzle in his debut and then fizzle shortly thereafter. He won't be the last.