Photo Credit: Rytiri Kladno/Roman Mares
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Jiri Tichacek is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for Rytiri Kladno. Tichacek plays for the Czech club that Jaromír Jágr owns and plays for. In addition to Jágr, he also plays alongside former Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tomáš Plekanec.
Tichacek grew up in Kladno, Czech Republic and has played in the Rytiri system throughout his youth. This past season was the first season that Tichacek played with Rytiri Kladno’s top tier team. His efforts helped paved the way for Rytiri to win the championship and get a promotion to Chance Liga (second highest level in the Czech Republic). In 17 regular season games played, Tichacek recorded two assists.
In addition to his league play, Tichacek represented the Czech Republic at the national level a few times this past season, but truly caught the attention of scouts at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships in Plano, Texas and Frisco, Texas. In the tournament, he played in four games and tallied six assists.
Tichacek is represented by Octagon Hockey’s Czech Republic affiliate, Eurohockey Services. Eurohockey Services also represents Jan Jeník (Arizona Coyotes prospect), Frantisek Formanek (2022 NHL Draft eligible), Tomas Hamara (2022 NHL Draft prospect) and Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings).
Tichacek’s CHL rights are owned by the OHL’s Erie Otters. The Otters selected Tichacek at #33 overall in the 2021 CHL Import Draft.
D.O.B – January 30, 2003
Nationality – Czech Republic
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Tichacek’s Style Of Play
Tichacek isn’t a huge offensive threat, but he will net assists from time to time. He’s found more offensive production in tournament play versus league play.
Tichacek can be a bit inconsistent with passing. Needs to speed up his decision-making when passing along the blue line. He can be a little slow with his decision-making and that allows attackers to get their hands on the puck instead of the puck going to the desired teammate. Yet, his speed can be of quality as well. He will complete one touch passing at the point. That means that he will capture possession of the puck and immediately complete a pass to his defensive partner along the point.
But, he will also struggle with misreading the passing route and the appropriate timing. Tichacek needs to develop the skills at identifying the trajectory and the lane that his intended target is looking to use.
In addition, he will struggle with his wind-up when passing. At times, Tichacek will put a lot of force into his passing and that has caused puck to bobble when the intended target looks to capture possession. It has also led to rolling pucks.
Tichacek will pinch up for loose pucks along the half-wall. But, he will also pinch up to the perimeter and offer a passing lane when his teammate is skating towards the corner with tight pressure on him. When he nets possession of the puck, he will go to the half-wall if he isn’t already there and pass the puck down the boards to teammates behind the net or in the corners. Occasionally, he will pinch up to collect a short pass or a drop pass and then fire a wrist shot from the corner.
He doesn’t often create scoring chances, but every now and then, he will jump up a bit to collect a cross-ice pass and will attempt medium danger shots in the face-off circles.
While Tichacek isn’t the tallest defender, don’t let size fool you. A lot of hockey fans are always under the impression that if you have a 6’5” defenseman that they are toughest defenders to navigate around, but there are a few defenders under 6’0” at the NHL level that can keep forwards at bay. Tichacek gives you exactly what you want in a defensive defender, but at a shorter size.
Tichacek deploys tight pressure on puck carriers. The Czech defender has excellent gap control along the boards and does a good job of staying aligned with the puck carrier. He thrives at man-on-man defending at net-front and can be a pest for forwards when they are attempting to find open ice down low. If he’s facing the puck carrier and the puck carrier’s back is turned to him, you can expect Tichacek to put pressure on the puck carrier’s back to force turnovers.
He will utilize an active stick down low behind the red line and in the corners. Tichacek will deploy an active stick for puck manipulation purposes. The goal is to trap attackers cycling the puck and he will do just that. You can expect him to extend his stick out towards the puck carrier’s left side to manipulate his movement and the carrier chooses to skate with the puck along the half-wall instead of skating to the slot. It’s all about holding puck carriers in low danger and not letting them skate inwards.
Similarly to his play in the offensive zone, you will see Tichacek struggle with passing at times. When looking to complete a breakout pass along the boards, he will struggle to connect with the intended target.
From a positioning perspective, he can be slight inconsistent. Occasionally, you will see Tichacek go in for a puck battle on the other side of the ice and leaves the slot unattended. That forces his defensive partner to cover Tichacek’s lane. Tichacek has shown that he is puck hungry and at times that lures him off-course a tad.
But, his positioning can be quite sound at times. He will cover the slot when the puck is on the other half-wall. Tichacek will look to take away passing lanes in the slot. If his defensive partner doesn’t drop back and the attacker is coming up the other lane (his defensive partner’s lane), he will shift over and cover.
When defending the rush, sometimes he sits a bit further to the right of the puck carrier before the perimeter, but will cut in towards the attacker in the face-off circle to assert more pressure.
Tichacek has excellent inside edges and that allows him to execute tight turns. He will utilize quality pivots and quick feet combined with excellent reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck carrier when the carrier is aiming to dodge Tichacek along the half-wall.
The Czech defender does possess excellent speed when shifting from backwards skating to forward skating when chasing after a loose puck in the defensive zone.
When looking to garner speed and driving up the ice, he will deploy two crossovers and three lengthy skate extensions to get moving. Once Tichacek gets into the neutral zone, he will start to shorten up his skate extensions. He doesn’t have any ankle flexion concerns and thus can generate a crisp quality stride. All-in-all, Tichacek does possess strong speed from a transition perspective.
While he can generate solid acceleration when skating up the ice, he does struggle with acceleration when skating backwards and using crossovers to pick up speed.
From a transitional perspective, he finds the most success at instilling the rush when completing stretch passes to a teammate in the slot. Tichacek finds wingers at the edge of the neutral zone and completes a swift pass. He managed to record a primary assist off a stretch pass against HC Stadion Litomerice.
When not passing along the boards and at open ice, Tichacek completes quality zone exit passes. He will complete effective zone exit passes when he isn’t facing a tight forecheck. When he is facing a tighter forecheck, he struggles to get around the attack and has a hard time finding a passing lane.
When at the neutral zone half-wall and facing tight pressure, he will have similar struggles and fail to complete a pass along the boards to his winger.
Tichacek doesn’t complete a ton of controlled zone-to-zone transitions, but I’ve noticed that when he does that he sometimes will struggle with how far out he plays the puck. His reach is limited and he will bobble pucks if he plays the puck a bit too far out from his body.
From a defensive standpoint, I would like to see Tichacek work on widening and lowering himself to take up more room at the blue-line. Tichacek will struggle with taking away space from the rush and will often give slightly too much room for the puck carrier.
Bottom Pairing Defender (NHL).
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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