If you read or listen to any sort of hockey prospect analysis — mainly so you can be really-extremely cool to fellow hockey fans and appear to be on the cutting edge of knowledge, and to develop opinions about players while watching the lengthy draft coverage every summer — you know that skating can be a boom-or-bust attribute for any young player. Some forwards or defensemen can have all the stickhandling, shooting ability, and skill in the world, but if they can’t move around the ice in an efficient way, then they will drop significantly in any rankings.
Now, imagine if that was the main attribute of a defenseman and some might say that they are simply the best at skating among the hundreds of draft-eligible kids this year. That is Czech defenseman David Jiricek — oh, and he is also 6-foot-3.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 6: David Jiricek
Team: HC Plzeň (Czechia)
Statistics: 5 G, 6 A in 29 GP
No. 4 (EU skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 7 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 7 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 9 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
As mentioned already, Jiricek’s skating ability is the main reason why teams have loved him and scouts have him going in the first 10 selections on July 7. He is in a tight two-player race for best defenseman in the class with Simon Nemec — who was fourth on BSH’s community board — and it’s just been back and forth between the two for most of this year.
Unfortunately, Jiricek suffered a brutal knee injury that kept him from really shining during the shortened 2022 World Junior Championship at the beginning of the year, but he’s been right there in terms of compatibility to the modern style that teams look for in today’s blueliners.
David Jiříček #45 is back in form and I think he's even better than before despite the long break. These are just a few clips from yesterday's game against Finland. His involvement in the offensive zone is getting way more aggressive...he's a huge offensive weapon. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/v2lEXtUkHj— Marek Novotny (@MarekNovotny96) April 30, 2022
His main offensive capability was more from a stationary position at the point, but as he has recovered from his injury, he has opened up to being more mobile in the zone and taking advantage of the larger ice surface overseas.
Defensively, the 18-year-old is known to play a more man-to-man style and use his height and reach to close out gaps effectively, and is certainly not afraid from getting down and dirty in his own end. He projects to be a confident defenseman that could play in all situations and be damn good at it.
What’s not to like?
The only concern that comes to mind is if he has grown accustomed to the Czech style and becomes more laissez-faire in North America. Maybe it is just having Rasmus Ristolainen on the roster of your favorite hockey team, but having a large, towering defenseman that people say can play in all situations and has displayed incredible athletic feats with all the confidence in the world, has be scared a little bit.
I’m sure I would get laughed out of any scouting circle for comparing the two players, but that’s the vibe and there is a reason why Ristolainen himself was a first-round pick and projected to be.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
Considering the fact that there is no real “Philadelphia Flyers system” or “identity,” Jiricek would fit in like a glove as a talented, high-potential blueliner that could come over immediately and provide a neat little spark to this prospect pool. After Cam York, there isn’t really any true difference makers on the back end under the age of 22 years old, and drafting Jiricek would provide a unique aspect to a team that could use any high-end talent.
If this team wants to compete in the future, they will need defensemen that can move the puck and move themselves at a rapid pace and Jiricek’s skating and vision is enough to do exactly that.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
Yes, unless one of the teams ahead of them in the draft love him to death (looking at you, Arizona Coyotes, for some reason). As mentioned earlier, it is really Jiricek and Nemec as the two top defensemen in this draft and considering the forward talent that will be available with the first four picks — Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Logan Cooley — one of them will certainly drop to no. 5.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Conor Geekie —C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)— 24 G, 70 P in 63 GP
Geekie’s a rare big pivot who also has the kind of skill that can find its way onto the highlight reel. So it’s no surprise he has generated top-10 buzz in this age group, or that he was the No. 2 pick into the WHL. But while his production last year really stood out and has remained good on a stacked Ice team this season, I’ve been let down more than once when I’ve watched him play (live and on video). He’s got impressive hands and body control for his size, which helps him control pucks inside the offensive zone and make plays while also getting the upper hand in board battles. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Who should be no. 8 on the 2022 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed