Who is this guy?
What are they saying about him?
Going all the way back to 2011 when he was drafted, Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Dan Sexton said "He plays hard. He’s strong. He has good speed. He put up reasonable numbers. He plays like a Penguin. A great two-way guy." While he was a bit of a scorer during his Junior career, as a professional he has focused on improving the physical aspect of his game. He has been called a "sandpaper" player, a gritty forward that is able to get under the opponents skin and agitate them into taking penalties. But the heart of his game is in his physicality, a strong player able to win the dirty battles for the puck in the corners and along the boards.
His major drawback is basically his offensive game. He isn't terrible, he can score and he can pass, especially evidenced by his performance back when he was in the Juniors and this year at Prospect Development Camp where he was regularly sniping shots past the younger inexperienced goalies like Tristan Jarry and Eric Hartzell. But amongst other older professionals in the AHL his scoring has been few and far between, so we can expect that to continue if/when he transitions to the NHL.
But as a player that projects as a Bottom 6 forward we are more concerned with his ability to play physically and defensively, and that he can certainly do. Think of him as somewhere between a Matt Cooke and Maxime Talbot type forward, a bottom 6 role player. Its a role he has embraced, as he recently said of his play "I really want to bring the energy on the ice. I want to bring a physical presence and I want to be responsible with the puck, make good decisions and just focus on that."
Where has he been?
Uher began his career playing for his local HC Frydek-Mistek U18 in the Czech Republic and it wasn't long before he found himself moving up to HC Trinec U18 and U20. He was always one of the youngest players on the ice, with a birthday on December 31st he falls in at the latest possible date for his age group. But even then he managed to play and excel against players much older than himself. He was 12 turning 13 when he started playing for Frydek-Mistek U18, and by the next season he was the leading scorer on his team and already got limited exposure in Trinec U18. By the time he was 15 turning 16 he was above and beyond the leading scorer on Trinec U18, leading them to an appearance in the league finals, and already seeing spot duty playing for their U20 club. He finished his final season in the Czech Republic as the #20 scorer in his entire league during the regular season and the #2 scorer during the playoffs.
The following year the 16 year old Uher was drafted into the WHL and spent the next 3 season playing for the Spokane Chiefs, as well as getting exposure on the international stage playing for both the Czech Republic U18 and U20 teams. By his 2nd season Uher was one of the leading scorers on his team, scoring nearly a point per game, and in his final season surpassed even that by finishing #1 in Goals and #2 in Points.
And then last season the 19 year old Uher turned pro, being one of the final cuts during Training Camp, but was back in the AHL after just 3 games with the Wheeling Nailers. He spent to majority of the season playing for the WBS Baby Pens, turning 20 just 1 day before the cutoff that would have forced him to return to the juniors for another season (and would have caused him to be drafted 1 year later). He spent a good deal of the season playing on the 4th line, but did get some opportunity to play on the Check line as well.
When can we expect to see him?
Uher is extremely young, but he is also talented enough and has a good size, so it shouldn't be too long. It's practically certain that he will return to WBS this Fall to spend his 2nd season playing in the AHL and likely develop into a permanent fixture on the Check line this year. By next year he could be vying for a spot in the Bottom 6 of Pittsburgh's roster, depending on whether or not there are any openings. If he doesn't then it seems quite likely that he will be able to make it by the final year of his contract in 2014-15. He likely won't ever be more than a depth role player, but he should be able to make an impact on the NHL roster in just a couple of years.
Why is he #19?
Uher received 1 vote for 5th, 1 vote for 7th, 2 votes for 13th, 1 vote for 17th, 2 votes for 20th, and 2 votes for 21st.
How can he climb the list?
If Uher can continue to improve his ability to snipe the puck and translate that to the professional level it will greatly increase his stock and his ability to contribute at the NHL level. This season he will also get the opportunity to take on a larger role on the Check line and develop his defensive game beyond being a mere physical 4th line energy guy. He could also expand upon his ability by becoming an integral part of the PK and hone that skill to the point where he can perform at the NHL level. Of course if he could develop into a Power Forward in the offensive zone his stock would soar to untold heights.