Photo courtesy of https://isport.blesk.cz/
Welcome back to Shift Work! The series where I take a look at a draft-eligible player and breakdown a game tape. I’ll be bringing you some comprehensive breakdowns of a player’s game as we go over an entire game of tape from a player. We will be focusing in on that player’s shifts and getting a peek at what the average game of that player looks like. We won’t cover every shift, but we will go over most of the shifts that the player played an active role in. We will be highlighting a lot of things that scouts and evaluators look for when they are watching a player’s game.
I couldn’t do this nearly as easy if it weren’t for collaboration with Prospect Shifts. The subscription-based website ($5/$10 options available) that takes a draft-eligible player and produces a video with only that player’s shifts. It cuts out the rest of the game, the commercials and intermissions making it much less time consuming to get a quick view on a player for scouts, writers and analysts alike.
This week we will be focusing on Jan Myšák, the Czech center/winger who is playing in the Czech ExtraLiga. Due to the fact that he plays in a bit of an obscure league, to North American’s at least, he doesn’t get the exposure to the general draft community but with a chance to make the World Junior team and a near guarantee that he will be playing at the World U18 tournament in the spring, he could be a player that jumps out at analysts and fans alike. When asked about Myšák, Dobber Prospects European writer/analyst Samuel Tirpák had this to say about him,
Jan Myšák is extremely talented forward who can play both center and wing positions and both effectively. He needs to work on his skating a little. He has highly developed offensive skills that allow him to be dangerous in all offensive situations. He can shoot very well and he can make plays just as well. Definitely has top-six potential in NHL.
The young Czech forward plays with speed and creativity. He loves having the puck on his stick and he doesn’t hesitate to shoot the puck. Myšák’s smooth stride and ability to gain speed quickly help him gain the time and space he needs to be effective in all three zones. Jan Myšák loves to be the catalyst in transition and enters the zone with possession of the puck far more often than not. Let’s dive into Myšák’s game against BK Mlada Boleslav on December 3rd, 2019 and take a look at what makes the top Czech prospect a player to watch as the season goes on.
In Myšák’s (#91 in Black) first shift of the game (above), he starts in a good defensive position as the opposition moves the puck around the offensive zone. He does an excellent job of occupying space in the middle of the ice between the circle. Understanding that a shot from the blue line is less dangerous than one from the slot, he protects the slot while keeping an eye on the defenceman at the point. Once the puck goes to the blue line, Myšák attacks the puck carrier closing the gap and forcing the puck to be moved. After pressuring the puck, he is able to gather the puck along the boards and begins out of the zone. Although he loses the puck initially, he gets it back quickly and transitions to the offensive zone. Once gaining entry with the puck, he crosses to the middle of the ice. Ideally, you’d like to see him get a little deeper in the zone before shooting, this was a very solid first shift of the game on both ends of the ice.
In the shift above, we see Myšák enter his defensive zone as the high forward. One of the subtle things that he does well in just about every defensive situation is the constant head movement. You can see Myšák constantly shoulder checking and ensuring that he doesn’t let his opponents gain too much space and this helps ensure that he can stay between the puck carrier and the open defender at the point.
Myšák is an aggressive forechecker in the offensive and neutral zone. He is tenacious on the puck carrier and consistently affects the ability of his opponents to make a crisp pass. In the clip above, he receives a pass and enters the zone. He then puts the puck down low behind the net. He tracks the puck, getting the front of the net to ensure that he is in both a good offensive position and in a strong enough position to apply a good forecheck. Once the puck is on the sticks of his opponent, Myšák eliminates space and helps force a sloppy breakout by applying a solid forecheck and backpressure. With the puck in the neutral zone, Myšák is tenacious in ensuring that the puck remained on his team’s sticks before going for a line change. This neutral zone play is an example of mature play from a 17-year-old.
Myšák’s skating is on full display on his next shift. We see him gather a pass in his own zone and immediately turn up ice. When he sees the open ice in front of him, he begins to pick up speed and shows good control of the puck as he flies through the neutral zone. He avoids defenders, cutting to the middle of the ice as he enters the offensive zone with control of the puck but his pass is just off and broken up by an opposing defender. While some players will loop around and follow the play as the late man back, Myšák immediately goes on the hunt for the puck. A combination of the backpressure that Myšák applies and the linemate that steps up in the neutral zone helps create a turnover that winds up right on Myšák’s stick. While he is met with physicality, Myšák ensures that the puck is pushed deep into the zone at the end of a long shift and gets the chance to ensure he isn’t trying to do too much or getting caught in a bad spot should the opposition move up the ice.
In the final minute of the period, Myšák is again an active defender to begin the clip. He is the low forward, aiding in clogging the middle of the ice to ensure that the team’s defensive structure is sound. He then engages in a board battle. While he doesn’t outright win the battle, he does angle off the opposing player which forces him to turn the puck up the boards. Myšák then shows off his speed by not only poking the puck past the blueliner, but he corrals it in the neutral zone and gets a very good scoring chance as he pulls away from everyone on the ice in just a few strides. He is stopped on the breakaway but the generation of offense in a men’s league is very promising.
A solid first period where Myšák was given ample opportunity in terms of ice-time. He was often beginning shifts in the neutral or defensive zone and he did a very good job of making sure the puck ended up in the offensive zone. Myšák showed very strong positioning and a tenacious attitude when his team wasn’t in possession of the puck. His first period was the kind of play that endears a player to a coach because of his responsible play.
Myšák’s opportunities weren’t as plentiful in the second frame as there was a lot of special teams play and he didn’t get his first shift until almost seven minutes had elapsed in the period but he was able to show his skills in the limited ice-time.
Myšák’s first shift of the middle period was his worst shift of the game. He didn’t necessarily do a poor job but it was a shift where his usual jump just didn’t seem to be there. He had a chance to clear the puck from his end of the ice and he weakly dumped it off the boards into mid-ice essentially giving the puck back to the opposition. After the puck is worked around the defensive zone it is turned up ice giving Myšák’s team offensive zone time but Myšák peels off and goes for a quick line chnage. It seemed like an “off” shift that Myšák doesn’t frequently have so the concern meter isn’t triggered.
In his following shift, above, Myšák is back to his usual play. He is in good defensive positioning, engaging the board battles and helping disrupt clean passes. He does this multiple times which allows his team to regain control of the puck. Once this happens, Myšák fires up the ice and is the second man on a two-on-one. He is set up for a good shot but misses the net, unfortunately. Myšák’s persistence of the defensive side of the puck often leads to turnovers that lead to offense.
Myšák’s final shift of the middle frame is an excellent offensive zone shift where he and his linemates control the puck with ease. They do a great job of moving the puck and cycling it to get the defensive unit defending. Myšák is the first man into the corner and he sends the puck to his teammate on the opposite side of the ice by ringing the puck around the boards. He then joins the cycle and attacks the front of the net as he rotates through the play. This creates confusion for the defenders and allows multiple scoring chances that are quite cashed in on. Myšák and his linemates show that they are putting the pieces together but can’t quite solve the puzzle just yet.
Myšák gets much more consistent deployment in the third period and is able to collect an assist at the tail end of the game, rewarding him for the hard work and persistence in this game.
In his first shift of the final period, above, Myšák does a good job of getting involved in the play without the puck. He shows a good effort as the puck is attempted to be carried out by his opponents and helps create the turnover. The puck is then worked back by his teammates to set up the transition game. While Myšák isn’t involved in the movement of the puck up ice, he does an excellent job of driving to the net once into the offensive zone. I apologize for the pause in the video right before the goal (The game tape failed us all here) but from what I have found, Myšák provides an excellent net front drive as the initial shot is stopped. His presence in front, unguarded, provides just enough of a worry for the goalie to come off the post where the rebound is potted. A play like this doesn’t get Myšák on the scoresheet but it does play a key role in this goal.
After a couple of short shifts that don’t result in much for either team, Myšák does a good job of staying with his man as the puck is worked into the defensive zone. He ties up the stick of his opposition and doesn’t allow the opportunity for a pass to present itself. He then naturally wheels around, allowing his man to float high in the zone and occupies space in the middle of the ice, again prevent passing lanes from opening up. Myšák’s defensive IQ is quite high for such a young player.
Myšák’s board play is built on his persistence and willingness to get his hands a little dirty. You can see in the clip above that despite being physically overmatched in terms of raw strength, Myšák is consistently engaging and attempting to work the puck off the boards and into a better position to clear it out of the zone. This kind of play is what many coaches feel young players need to learn and employ with more consistency. The fact that Myšák is playing is a men’s league has clearly helped him develop good habits in that regard.
Myšák is finally rewarded for a solid game on the last shift of his day. To no surprise, the shift starts in the defensive zone for Myšák. While he isn’t the catalyst for the turnover, he does take advatage of the loose puck along the boards and makes a beeline for the offensive zone. When he identifies the open ice in the middle he puts a soft pass to the slot, allowing his linemate to catch up and roof the puck. While this pass likely gets broken up by the defender at the NHL level, this is a smart play that helps rewards the youngster for a solid night. Myšák finsihes the night with an assist in a game where he was noticeable and competitive throughout.
REVIEW AND ANALYSIS
Even though Myšák only recorded a single assist in this contest, but he had an excellent game overall. He was effective in the defensive zone. He plays an aggressive style of defense. He pinches low into the zone, protects the middle of the ice but aggressively shoots out to the point when the puck works its way to the defenders. He forces passes and decisions much earlier than the opposition would like which makes for mistakes. He plays with his head, literally, on a swivel ensuring that he is aware of his surroundings at all times.
While his skating stride isn’t perfect, he generates speed well and has a quick first step. He uses this to pressure opponents and pulls away from defenders when his team has the puck. He does an excellent job of identifying routes through the neutral zone, often transitioning the puck through the neutral zone like a hot knife in butter. Offensively, Myšák is smart and works hard on the forecheck. His vision is excellent, always looking to make his teammates better. He understands where to find soft spots and gets to them with regularity. Myšák plays with maturity to his game. He does an excellent job of turning defense into offense by using his speed and skill to separate the player from the puck with good stick work and then immediately turn up ice towards the offensive zone.
While Myšák has become a bit of a forgotten prospect because he doesn’t get the regular exposure of some other prospects, he is highly-skilled forward who can play both center and the wing. He should be viewed as a mid-first round option at a minimum for the 2020 NHL Draft. A strong performance at the World Junior Championships and the U18 Worlds in the spring should help boost his stock among the public. Keep an eye on this year’s top prospect out of the Czech Republic.
Thank you for joining me for another edition of Shift Work! I’ll be back for another edition in a couple of weeks. Until then, you’ll find me Rambling here on Dobber Prospects every Wednesday and you can follow me on Twitter at @theTonyFerrari! Which prospects have stood out to you recently? If there’s anyone you want an opinion on or think has been standing out lately, comment below or send me a message on Twitter. Be sure to check out previous installments of the Shift Work series below and give me your feedback on those as well!
Previous Editions of the “Shift Work” series:
Tim Stützle Cole Perfetti
Anton Lundell Lucas Raymond
Alexander Nikishin Quinton Byfield