Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images, Aaron Bell/CHL Images
There are not too many players in even good draft years that can claim to have been playing top-tier, professional hockey, when they were 16 years old. Jaromír Pytlík can, and those seven games for HC Vítkovice two years ago marked him out as a man to watch. Czech coaches are notorious for being reluctant to “blood” young players. So it speaks magnitudes for the 2020 draft prospects game that he was trusted at that venture. He has always played beyond his years, as well as had the physical ability of a much older man.
From that point forward, he has been a staple on Czech junior team, including captaining them on occasion. While never a “stand-out” on teams where he was often one of the younger players, he played a stabilising role on consecutive WHC-17, WJC-18, and Hlinka teams. However, despite his physical and mental maturity on ice, he could not escape the treatment that the majority of young Czech players get over the course of the 2018-19 season. He spent most of the year on the fourth line, or as a thirteenth forward, for Vítkovice, so jumped ship mid-year to move to a stacked Sault Ste. Marie team in the OHL.
In the eighteen months since crossing the Atlantic, Pytlík has continued to steadily impress, without really forcing himself into a high spot on many draft lists. Partially as, while he picked up 50 points in 56 games, there are questions as to how he did not garner more given his size and skill-set.
D.O.B – September 25, 2001
Nationality – Czech Republic
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Weight –201 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right
Pytlík’s Style Of Play
The hulking Czech forward does not have the “flash” that many of his draft peers who will go in the first two rounds do. However, when you run down a check-list of attributes that NHL teams want in their forwards, the man from the small town of Dačice ticks off almost every single one.
Pytlík skates well, he is versatile, he is good defensively, he is physical, he is strong on the puck, he is good on the cycle, his shot finds corners, he has a high hockey IQ, and he makes crisp tape-to-tape passes. At the World Juniors he showed off all those skills, often being tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best players, and generally doing that job with aplomb despite many being close to two years his senior.
On special teams he is a solid penalty-killer. He can also be dangerous on the power-play, playing either as a net-front presence, or kicking out to the left half-boards.
In terms of what Pytlík has to improve on going forward? Despite having a good all-around skill-set with few glaring holes he has been inconsistent over the season. You can get a different player from game-to-game, and that is not due to effort. He is simply prone to making some mistakes you would not expect. Additionally, while skating is not an issue he could focus on improving his top speed to be a greater threat on the rush. Right now his stride is slightly short and choppy for a man with such long levers.
There is some thought that he might shift to wing at the pro level, but with his skill-set if he can stick at center he has the potential to be a versatile middle-six center who can contribute in all phases of the game. While he might not be BPA in the first round, if he falls past the mid-second second round he could be a great pick-up.
Radek Faksa, Center, Dallas Stars
Like his fellow Czech pivot, Pytlík is a big forward who moves well with a responsible two-way game. Both give their all in all three zones, and are good penalty-killers. While Faksa is more physical, both use their size to their advantage well. The two Czech’s also share the ability to move between wing and center. From an offensive perspective both have good shots, solid but unexceptional hands, and a good IQ.
Stats from EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alexander on Twitter, his handle is @Avappleyard.
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