Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images, Aaron Bell/CHL Images
The hulking Czech pivot did not get too much hype in the lead-up to the NHL draft. Why? Probably because he does not have the “flash” that many forward prospects have. But when you run down a check-list of attributes there is not really a single box that would not be ticked when it comes to the man from the small town of Dačice. He skates well, plays good defense, he physical, his shot finds corners, he has a high hockey IQ, and makes crisp tape-to-tape passes. The big centre is also used being tasked with shutting down the oppositions best players, and generally does that job with aplomb despite many being close to two years his senior. Pytlík himself considers three of his attributes as stand-outs.
“I think my skating, my work ethic, I work hard on my skills, and having a pretty good shot.”
He stood out in all those areas at the World Juniors, despite not making a major impact on the scoreboard. Though it was not just at the World Juniors he has shown his ability. He moved to the OHL mid-way through the 2018-19 season, and since then has shone while playing in the land of the Great Lakes. Pytlík outlined just why he left his home nation and crossed the pond.
“The reason (for leaving Vitkovice) was that I was not playing much, I had low ice time… I practiced with the senior team but did not play many games. And our manager, Kyle Raftis, told me that if I would go there (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), I could play with Morgan Frost and Barrett Hayton. I was really excited, I just thought that I would play more, get better, if I went to Canada.”
In his draft year he picked up 50 points in 56 games in the OHL, a solid offensive output. Combine that with his two-way game and it is easy to see why some had him ranked as a second-rounder. A good measure of his skill-set is the fact that when asked what areas he needed to improve on, he did not point to a specific attribute, but consistency.
“I want to always be good. Because sometimes I play really good, and then sometimes not so great, so consistency.”
Somewhat of a surprise given his playing style is who he grew up trying to emulate.
“There were lots of people, but like… Evgeni Malkin… probably him!”
Though it is worth stating that the young Czech forward has far more defensive acumen than his Russian idol, even if Malkin is in a different offensive stratosphere.
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 pivot who can contribute in all phases of the game. Maybe he can even hit 50 points in a good year if he reaches his absolute upside, albeit he is more likely to be a good third liner. He would arguably have been a good pick-up at pick #60, let alone at 99th overall.
*this interview took place at the 2020 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic*
Check out our scouting report on Pytlík for more details on his skill-set.
Interview post written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alexander on Twitter, his handle is @Avappleyard.