The Karjala Cup just ended a couple of days ago and now it’s time to go back to it and recap how individual prospects who will likely go to World Juniors for the Czech Republic did. And they did really well. Czech coach Filip Pešán was not scared to start young players and I really loved that. It’s a step in the right direction for Czech hockey and maybe even motivation for other national team’s head coaches. I will start with Draft eligible prospects and move on to the already drafted ones.
While Svozil only played one game at Karjala Cup, 2021 NHL Draft eligible (who ranked 28th in our November rankings) was one of the most noticeable defensemen for the Czech team against Russia. He was paired with Detroit’s top right shot defenseman Filip Hronek. Svozil played just over 19 minutes of ice time and was incredible in what he does best and that is smart defending. Svozil was calm under pressure in every shift, involved physically if necessary, and great defensively. To specify, his defensive gap and ability to read play and cut off the lanes of the attacking team were second to none. Svozil found himself quite often on the right side in defensive parts of the game. I’m not sure if it was Hronek and Svozil’s individual decision as a pair or coaching decision, but he handled it really well. His first pass was excellent throughout the game. He struggled offensively a little bit. But I don’t think that’s a big concern at all.
Kubíček went undrafted in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, so he is eligible for the 2021 Draft as an overager. He was dressed as seventh defensemen for games against Sweden and Finland and did not see any ice time in those two games. But he did see a ton of ice time against Russia. Kubíček played 23:07 minutes against Russia and was pretty good overall. He is a two-way defenseman and showed those capabilities again in that game, being active offensively and creating opportunities for forwards higher both from the neutral zone and offensive zone. Defensively, he was responsible and did not make many mistakes. His skating was an issue for me since his first three steps were always relatively slow compared to the rest of the team and especially his defensive pair, Jakub Galvas.
2022 NHL Draft eligible and projected first-round selection did rather well. He played 16:58 minutes against Russia and did not play in the other two games. Defensively, there were a lot of issues I saw. One of the big ones was the lack of positional awareness, as he was beaten a lot in his own zone by speedy and active Russian forwards just due to bad positioning. His defensive gap was rather good, but not that effective. Offensively, however, he was really active and contributed a lot in terms of creating opportunities in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone. His shot was good and it was always used with purpose and target. Jiříček’s offensive smarts would always be his go-to attribute going forward. He also made history as the youngest player in the independent Czech Republic’s history to play for Men’s national team.
And now we go to already drafted prospects. Jan Myšák was a faller in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and was selected 48th overall by Montreal Canadiens, and let me tell you, he is going to be a good one! He played 8:35 minutes of ice time in the win against Sweden and 17:03 in the loss to Russia. He got a secondary assist on Jakub Galvas’ goal against Sweden (showed below, Myšák is #44), on which he showed his transitional abilities and a great sense for the offensive game. Throughout those two games, he was really active offensively and defensively. Myšák was one of two penalty killers in-game against Russia along with Jaromír Pytlík (NJD). He was really aggressive on penalty-killing duties. This aggressive approach led to a couple of offensive opportunities for him and his linemate. Offensively, he was always making plays if he had the puck or creating space for teammates when he didn’t have it. Overall, it was just a great showcase of skills before the upcoming World Juniors, where he would be the leader of the Czech team.
The third-round selection for New Jersey Devils in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft did not play a prominent offensive role on a team, but he was used in more of a defensive role. He did not disappoint. Pytlík played 8:46 minutes of ice time against Finland and 14:15 against Russia. Offensively, he was effective but didn’t create much offense on his own. In transition, he was using his effective skating and frame to hold on to the puck and move the puck up the ice for other forwards. He shined defensively and on the penalty kill. Along with Myšák, he was super active and aggressive in penalty-killing duties. Pytlík was able to successfully read plays and cut the attacking team’s lanes to suppress offense from other teams at even strength. In the final meeting before the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, I mentioned Pytlík’s defensive game as that attribute to take him to the next level and he has proved that once again.
The Minnesota Wild’s fifth-round selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft had a really uneventful tournament, as his role was very limited. He only played 11:36 minutes against Russia, which was the lowest from the forward group in that game. Novák is known to be a shot-heavy offensive threat, but never really got an opportunity to showcase that either at even strength or on the powerplay. In those almost twelve minutes of ice time, he was really active offensively and tried to contribute in some capacity, but nothing really materialized.
Adam Raška (SJS) was an extremely active player in terms of being physical and annoying to play against. He went to corners, right into dirty areas, and generally was really active in that part of the game. Raška played 13:36 minutes against Russia and had a low impact on the game from both offensive and defensive standpoints.
Lukáš Pařík (LAK) had a pretty interesting game. He allowed three goals against Russia. He would want the last two of those goals back for sure. But from halfway point in the game, he seemed to catch up to speed and was really solid ever since. He made 27 saves for a .900 save percentage.
Filip Koffer (2021, double re-entry) had a really rough game against Russia. Pucks bounced from him on a consistent basis and never really accomplished anything offensively. Defensively, he was quite solid, but overall Koffer had little to no impact in the 15:23 minutes he played.
Be sure to follow Samuel Tirpák on Twitter @SammyT_51 for all of the latest on prospects!