If the calendar showed April 1, many would think it was an April Fool’s Day. It sounds so surprising: The Czech Republic might have the most wanted defenseman in the upcoming NHL Draft.
Yes, the Czech Republic, who can hardly pass a full defense of the NHL’s thin sources and have only sent minimal high-quality backs to the world in recent years.
David Jiříček, 17, from Pilsen, is the man who breaks down unfavorable trends.
Anyone who watches Czech hockey has heard of it. The long quarterback has made dozens of extraleague appearances and has taken a peek at the adult national team. He aspires to the first round of the draft for a longer period.
In the current year, however, it has ranked even higher. If he attracted the scouts, now he enchants them. He had eight points (3 + 5) in twelve starts for Pilsen and is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the extra league. He spends almost 18 minutes on the ice on average.
“Every year it increases,” reveals Pilsen’s sporting director and assistant coach Tomáš Vlasák. “Today you can say that David is in the top four full-backs in our country because he’s also in powerlifting. He proves his exceptional talent. Plus he works on himself which is the best combination. “
At the end of September, TSN station ranked Jiříčka tenth in the provisional ranking. About two weeks later, rival Sportsnet ‘toughened up’ and awarded the Czech backstroke fourth, the highest ever among the bibs. He was predeceased by forwards Shane Wright, Brad Lambert and Ivan Miroshnichenko.
“A wide range of skills make Jiříček a deadly defender both forward and backward,” Sportsnet wrote. “It plays in the body, isn’t afraid of blocking missiles and fires very efficiently from the start.”
“David’s fourth place doesn’t surprise me that much,” notes Vlasák. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of talent like him. But let’s be happy for him.”
Especially the defense has suffered for a long time. So far, only five Czech quarterbacks have entered the current NHL season. Six of them have gone through the first round of the draft in this millennium, which is woefully few. For example, the Finns have only reached the same number in the last five years.
Worse yet, five of the six mentioned full-backs lined up until 2005. Since then, Jakub Zbořil, who is now at the limit of the Boston squad, has flown for the first round.
Jiříček will now significantly revive the dry years. He could even be the first Czech in the top five in the draft for defender Rostislav Klesla, who finished fourth in the summer of 2000.
But the talent auction is still a long way off. The ranking will increase. Some juniors get started, others fail due to poor performance or poor health. Pavel Zacha and Filip Zadina also made it to the top five, but in the end they were both “up to” sixth.
The only Czech with an “A”
Jiříček has the advantage that his scouts don’t have to doubt his ability to handle the delicate transition from junior to adult. He already shines in a completely professional extra-professional league.
“I think it’s a done deal. Unless there’s a more serious injury, which of course I don’t wish on anyone, especially David,” said Vlasák. “If he continues and works like this, he has a great future ahead of him. It could be one of the best points both away and for our national team.”
The question for Czech hockey is whether Jiříček would take off in other clubs. Few are as courageous as deploying young people like Pilsen.
“We have this strategy, our philosophy – we are partly obligated to do it. It is a stupid word, but it is simply given by our budget,” says Vlasák that “Indians” rely on young people because of a more modest budget. “On the other hand, I think David is so special in our hockey pool that he would probably play everywhere. Every coach has to see he has it.
Jiříček’s uniqueness is confirmed by the NHL recruiting office itself, which gave the longtime Czech player the highest possible rating of A. The odds for the first round of the draft are really great.
Karlovy Vary striker Jiří Kulich got a B rating, so he can think of the second or third round. Other Czechs have remained on the “céčka”, which means that they have nothing for sure.
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