Jeffrey T. Barnes

Fantasy Summary

A sturdy two-way defenseman who supports the play well and could be capable of moderate contributions in the NHL.


Observations

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July 2022 – Hajek was given a qualifying offer by New York, and signed a one year deal with the team for the 2022-2023 season.  The underwhelming defenseman, one of the main pieces heading to the Rangers in the disastrous trade deadline deal back in the 2018 season, has simply not lived up to expectations as of this writing. With plenty of depth in front of him on the NYR blueline and also in the minors, despite the fact that he is the 7th defenseman for the Rangers due to waivers ineligibility, Hajek appears to be out of chances to earn a permanent spot with the club. At this point, it appears likely that Hajek will be shopped now that he is under contract. Brendan Ferry

 

January 2020 – Hajek has been named to the Rangers taxi squad to begin the 2021 NHL campaign. Hajek’s development, while not entirely stagnant, has been slow enough over the last couple of years that other Rangers’ defense prospects have closed the gap on him in terms of the active depth chart. With K’Andre Miller, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren on the active roster, and Matthew Robertson joining him on the taxi squad, Hajek is quickly becoming known as a notorious bubble player in the organization. His opportunity on the taxi squad will permit him to be on the Rangers’ short list of defensemen if the active roster is in need throughout the season, but it remains a less than ideal situation for him or his fantasy owners. Brayden Olafson

 

September 2020 – The New York Rangers have loaned Hajek to HC Olomouc of the Czech Extraliga. With the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 NHL season, this assignment could be an opportunity for Hajek to further his development in a more prominent role. His recent fringe role with the Rangers could also be at risk with the other defensive prospects budding in the Rangers system, so some positive offensive results could make him a trade chip for the organization. Brayden Olafson

 

January 2020 – The Rangers’ 21-year-old defenseman has absorbed his fair share of criticism as a young NHL player. Since being promoted in February of 2019, Hajek has remained with the Rangers as a bottom-pairing defenseman with almost no opportunity to move up. While the Twitterverse has echoed call’s for his demotion, the team continues to deploy him in a defensive role when healthy. Most recently, he’s missed time with a nagging knee injury that has limited him to about half of the team’s games this year. While Adam Fox and Tony Deangelo bask in the glory of their early successes, Hajek seems to still be on the outside, looking in, for now, presenting what’s probably the best opportunity to buy on the young defenseman. Brayden Olafson

 

March 2019 – Despite a disappointing stat line in his rookie campaign with the Hartford Wolfpack, the Ranger’s chose to reward Hajek, in principle, for his persistence and commitment to improving. Just five games into his NHL career, the 21-year-old defender tallied his first goal as a Ranger. There is still much room for improvement as far as Hajek is concerned, but getting the experience under his belt is a positive step for the Czech. His offensive ceiling remains moderate, however, the potential for a future in the National league grows with his experience. Brayden Olafson

 

February 2018 – Hajek was dealt to the New York Rangers in a massive deadline deal for Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller. Hajek has put together strong numbers as a two-way defender in the WHL and really broke out at the most recent World Junior Championships. He brings great mobility, poise and playmaking skills and can contribute in all situations. He’ll be looked at as a potential replacement for McDonagh down the road. Cam Robinson

January 2018 – Hajek had a breakout tournament in Buffalo at the 2018 World Junior Championships as part of the unusually strong Czech Republic squad. The return on Anthony Deangelo finished the tournament second in points among defensemen with six, and was consistently the top minute-muncher for the Czech’s totaling in excess of 30:00 minutes on ice in multiple outings. He also received player of the game honors in two outings; one, despite finishing a minus-5 versus the United States in the Bronze Medal loss. To conclude the tournament, Hajek was named one of the Czech’s three Players of the Tournament, and despite the fourth place finish, certainly boosted his offensive stock and name recognition in fantasy circles. Brayden Olafson

 

Hajek has been traded to the Memorial Cup host Regina Pats where he will join recently acquired Cale Fleury and Josh Mahura to anchor one of the top defensive units in the entire CHL. Hajek will play big minutes in a likely long playoff run with a guarantee big game experience in the Memorial Cup to conclude his junior career. Peter Harling

 

September 2017 – After being pegged in my August 31-in-31 series as a player with a potentially diminishing fantasy value among Lightning prospects, Hajek has come into the NHL pre-season firing on all cylinders. In his second outing against the Hurricanes, Hajek was one of the most impressive players on the Lightning roster. Hajek plays with an active stick in the defensive zone, and was an effective penalty killer in his 4 minutes and 30 seconds of time on the kill. He’s a fluid skater and can transition the puck quickly in the neutral zone to create offense. Hajek was cut by the Lightning after his second preseason game and returned to the Saskatoon Blades for his final year of junior – he’ll be eligible for the AHL in 2018-19. Brayden Olafson

 

July 2017 – The Saskatoon Blades star defender’s rights were retained by his junior team, as well as fellow European Mark Rubinchik prior to the 2017 CHL Import draft. The declaration meant that the Blades would be unable to participate in the draft, as they did not hold the roster space to add another Euro skater. Blades general manager Colin Priestner said that, “…we feel Libor Hajek’s going to be one of the top defensemen in the league next year as a 19-year-old, and he’s a big part of our d-core.” It wouldn’t have been worth the risk for the Blades to participate in what he called a “frustrating” process (Import draft). Libor will certainly earn a look with the Lightning in training camp, and likely preseason action, however, has been bumped down in the Lightnings prospect pool with the acquisition of Mikhail Sergachev. Libor remains a valuable asset for the Lightning, but the Lightning are ensuring that he will be properly seasoned before they force him into a situation unfitting of his development. Brayden Olafson

 

February 2017 – Libor’s 2016 campaign has resulted in a notable improvement in offensive production. He has a firm grasp on the position of top blue-line prospect for the Lightning, however with Jake Dotchin being provided the current opportunity, he will likely be offered some AHL seasoning before another chance presents itself. The Lightning have some expensive defensive contracts coming off the books in the next two to three years so expect Libor to be first in line to take over when the time comes. Brayden Olafson

 

June 2016 – The Lightning traded up to take Hajek in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft. Hajek was the pick Tampa received for Anthony DeAngelo. Hajek is a two-way defender with some physical upside. Tends to ramp up his play when a game is on the line, but that can lead to poor decisions. Hajek will need to develop offensively and work on his decision-making in junior for a year or two. Max Marko

Attributes
Fantasy Upside 5.0
NHL Certainty 6.0
Country CZE
Position D
Roster Type Minors
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth February 4, 1998
Height 6‘2”
Weight 203 lbs
Drafted 2016 Round 2; Overall: 37

Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2010-2011 HC Kometa Brno U16Czechia U163 0 11 2|        
  HCM Warriors Brno U16Czechia U16 2- - -- -|        
 2011-2012 HC Kometa Brno U16Czechia U1632 4 610 12|        
  HC Kometa Brno U18Czechia U182 0 00 0|        
 2012-2013