Photo Credit: HC Škoda Plzeň
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
David Jiříček is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for HC Plzeñ in the Czechia Extraliga. Jiříček originally is from Klatovy, Czechia and his hometown is in the region of Plzen. Klatovy is roughly a 45 minute drive south of the town of Plzeñ. Jiříček played youth hockey with HC Klatovy and joined HC Plzeñ in 2017-2018 to play U16 hockey.
He made his Czechia Extraliga debut in his 2019-2020 campaign, but it was a relatively short stint at the highest Czechia level. Jiříček played in four games for Plzeñ in the Extraliga. The following season, 2020-2021, he played the entire season with the Extraliga club and took home Rookie of the Year honors.
Unfortunately, Jiříček has one blemish on his record. He had been suspended for two games for hitting the head and neck of Jakub Navratil.
It is also worth noting that Jiříček’s CHL rights are owned by the Spokane Chiefs. He was selected at 54th overall in the 2020 CHL Import Draft. It is entirely possible that whichever NHL club draft Jiříček will ask him to play in the WHL next year to continue his development.
D.O.B – November 28, 2003
Nationality – Czech Republic
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –190 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Jiříček’s Style Of Play
Jiříček has shown that he can jump up / pinch up and get involved past the perimeter. He does not just sit back. When there is a puck battle towards the left of the net but behind the red line with all three forwards involved, Jiříček moves up to the slot to offer a passing lane. Jiříček will use lateral crossovers to shift to the half-wall from the blue line, grab open ice, once he has netted possession of the puck off of a pass, he will then look for a good passing lane to pass the puck to a teammate in the slot.
From a positioning perspective, there are some shifts where he seemed more eager to pinch up but that isn’t in his comfort spot yet. I think most of his comfort issues are a result of struggling to squeeze past an attacker on a pinch. Jiříček likes to pinch but he will constantly find challenges at pivoting out of danger along the boards. The attacker implements the right amount of pressure to neutralize the threat. Over time, more and more pinching will only increase his ability to generate passes to dangerous areas and tally point after point.
Jiříček has excellent timing at cradling the puck and uses his elusive stick-handling ability to maintain possession of the puck for his team to keep the offensive momentum alive. If he has an attacker pressing him at the blue line and doesn’t have a clear passing lane, he will shift the puck to his backhand and skates from the right side to the left side along the blue line. He will kick the puck back to his stick if he loses control of the puck. Once he gets closer to the left side, he’ll dump the puck along the boards to get the puck to the corner.
In addition, Jiříček has good hands to swerve the puck around an attacker and skate into the slot. He does an excellent job of luring the attacker to him by windmilling lightly and slowly, brings him in and then skates around the attacker. Then he passes to the half-wall.
The only time that you see Jiříček struggle to evade the attack with his stick-handling is against the boards when facing tight pressure. On the half-wall and behind the red line.
From beyond the perimeter when attempting a wrist shot, he will sometimes put a little bit too much into his wind-up and his stick blade won’t always be aligned to the net so if he attempts a wrist shot, it will become a dumped puck to the corner / boards behind the red line.
But, there are instances of Jiříček generating quality wrist shots with a big wind-up. Also as stated above, his big wind-up is not constant and the Czech defender has found plenty of success from range with his wrist shot. He has had multiple goals this season from long range with his wrist shot.
He has also found solid success closer to the net. In fact, he will look to drive the puck around the net and then take a shot from red line to catch the goaltender off guard and scores.
When it comes to his slap shot, he has quality shooting mechanics. Jiříček implements good weight transfer on slap shots from the point. His weight transfer allows him to net excellent power on one-timers and regular slap shots. He uses that excellent power on his slap shots to generate rebound assists. Jiříček constantly looks to use his slap shot and get pucks on net. It doesn’t always lead to high danger chances and he will need to work on being more selective with his slap shots from the point, but it is intriguing to see him net tremendous power on each shot.
Jiříček has good puck tracking ability. He does an excellent job scanning the ice and moving his body around the offensive zone at the same pace as his opponents’ puck movement. The Czech defender reacts quickly to puck movement, if he spots a loose puck coming up the boards towards him, he shifts his hips and knees in a pivot to trap possession of the puck.
When defending against the attack in the offensive zone, he extends his stick blade out towards the attacker along the offensive zone blue line to force the attacker to dump the puck. But, he won’t wait for the attack to come to him. You can expect him to pinch up to play the opposition’s rush. Jiříček will skate up to the rush and extend out his stick blade to make the attacker feel vulnerable.
He could be a pain in the ass on NHL ice in the defensive zone. Jiříček is a guy where if he has you in his crosshairs, you are not going to enjoy the next 15-30 seconds of ice time. He loves to push into attackers in the slot right as they are about to get fed a pass and he wants them to lose possession of the puck. He does a solid job of boxing out forwards. Shift in and shift out, he defends the slot well and will swing his stick towards the puck when the puck carrier. He will also park himself at the trapezoid when there is puck battle in the corner so he eliminates a passing lane to an attacker in the trapezoid.
At the defensive zone blue line, he will bend his knees and lower his body as he looks to defend against the rush and manipulate the attack’s puck movement. Not only does he rely on body language when working against the cycle/rush, but he also has good reaction time with his puck tracking ability. His reaction time allows to keep quality pace with attackers with ease.
He also has quite an active stick and it allows him to slow down the attack. Jiříček positions his stick blade parallel to the attacker’s stick blade and then closes on in on the attack. When defending in the corner, he will wave his stick out towards the puck carrier’s stick to box him in and make him feel vulnerable. If the Czech defender is chasing the puck carrier when the carrier is looking to skate to around the net and towards the trapezoid, he will use his active stick and reachability to neutralize the threat. If he has the attack in his sights and he is relatively close to the puck, he extends his stick towards the puck carrier’s stick blade and forces the carrier to lose control of the puck. Jiříček has excellent reach and that allows him to separate the puck from the puck carrier.
While he defends well against the puck carrier, I’d like to see Jiříček exert more pressure on a non-puck carrying attacker in medium danger who is waiting for a rebound off of Jiricek’s goaltender. He will give him way too much space and that allows the attacker to grab control of the puck off of a rebound and get a shot off. In addition, he needs to work on dropping back and not overcommitting to the defending the point. If an attacker completes a drop pass to his defender at the blue line, Jiříček won’t follow the attacker to the corner and leaves the attacker open in the corner to collect a pass from the defender. He will have teammates in position to defend the point and yet he is resistant to drop to the corner. It’s not just at the point. You will also see similar concerns pop up when defending against puck battles along the boards and there are multiple Plzeñ teammates involved.
Even though there are moments where he can be out of position, he will notice when his defensive partner is out of position, he will then shift over and cover for him when a loose puck is flying into the defensive zone on the left side (generally speaking Jiříček lines up on the right side of the ice).
He can be very aggressive and shove attackers down to the ice at net-front. Loves to play a physical game and deliver booming hits. He is well-rounded with his physicality. You will see him be physical at open ice, the half-wall and the corners. He won’t sit and wait till the perimeter. Instead, he will opt to play bumper car hockey near the blue line.
When it comes to defensive zone puck recoveries, he will struggle with the necessary speed to gain control of loose puck in the corner. But, even though his attacker will beat him to the puck from time to time, Jiříček nets enough speed to put pressure on the attacker as soon as the attacker grabs a hold of the puck. The defensive prospect will keep him pinned to the boards in the corner.
Should he net control of the puck behind the red line and an attacker is bearing down on him, he’ll dump the puck out of the zone as he know that he won’t be able to skate his way out of the pressure and has no open passing lane.
Jiříček is highly efficient at moving the puck up the ice, but he doesn’t often move the puck from zone-to-zone himself. He will look to find the ideal breakout passing lane. He will complete quality stretch passes as he comes out from behind his net. The Czech defender does an excellent job of finding open forwards in the neutral zone that are ready to pounce on the offensive zone blue line.
While he does an excellent job of completing lengthier passes to generate puck movement, he can also deliver light outlet passes. His soft hands allow him to do so. But, that doesn’t mean that light passing lanes come to him easily. Often times he has to work for them. There are instances in which he will move the puck one-handed around an attacker at the corner and then delivered a light feed along the boards that leads to a zone exit. One handed puck movement around an attacker and then played the puck up the boards that lead to a zone exit.
Even though he does cradle around attackers, he will struggle to do so with consistency. But, when he can pull it off, he can generate zone exit passes with great succession.
Speaking of consistency, he can be quite inconsistent with his puck movement speed. Ideally I’d like him to be faster with puck movement. Sometimes he’s fast enough to pinpoint an incoming attacker and swings the puck around him. Then, sometimes he’s slightly slow and his attempt to get the puck around the attacker and to a teammate is quite slow and ineffective.
If he does look to move the puck at the ice himself, he will rely on his strong stick-handling reachability. Jiříček has good reach to capture possession of a lateral pass from his defensive partner that went slightly further out from him. In addition, he uses his good wingspan / reachability shift the puck from right to left and move the puck one-handed around the attacker when looking drive around traffic and generate a zone exit.
In the neutral zone, Jiříček stays well-aligned with the attacker who doesn’t have the puck, skates with him but begins positioning himself towards the boards to force the attacker to skate towards the boards as the two of them then skate into the defensive zone and skate after a loose puck. That also gives Jiricek the advantage on getting to the loose puck before the attacker. It just depends on if he has the speed. But if he doesn’t have the speed to grab the loose puck, more often then not he can pounce on the attacker as soon as the attacker grabs a hold of the puck.
He can be a brick wall in the neutral zone and make it annoying for the puck carrier to cross the blue line. Jiricek forces them to skate to the boards. He will then swings his stick towards the puck carrier’s stick blade in the neutral zone to force a dump-in to the Plzeñ defensive zone or to force ill-advised puck movement in the neutral zone when close to the Plzeñ defensive zone blue line. While he will use his active stick quite a bit, you can also expect him to lay down open ice checks to prevent the opposition from creating zone entries.
His positioning in the neutral zone is quite good. If two opponents are skating through the neutral zone, he covers the skater that is skating closer to his right side and stays well-aligned with him. Jiříček will drop into the neutral zone if his defensive partner pinches up in the offensive zone and the opposition’s winger nets possession of the puck along the half-wall and Jiricek’s defensive partner is there. Jiricek shifts over towards the left side in the neutral zone incase the attacker manages to escape/neutralize the threat or completes a pass to another attacker to be in position to defend a potential rush.
When he has the puck on his stick, he likes to manipulate the attacker in the neutral zone. He will skate in slowly, draws the attacker in and then delivers a light tap pass behind him to allow his teammate to drive the puck up the ice with a lot of open ice.
Not all of his offensive zone entries are zone entry passes though, he does attempt quite a bit of dump-ins. Yet, he will whiff quite a bit of dump-in attempts. He will try to hold the puck too far from his body and that hurts his ability to generate a lot of power on the dump-in attempt. The good thing is that he has the reachability to net control of the puck should he whiff the dump-in.
Generally speaking, the Czech defenseman has an excellent power stride. He will deploy two lengthy skate extensions and then shortens up his stride as he netted quality acceleration on this first two extensions. Jiříček has lengthy skate extensions to get back into the neutral zone in time to face the rush as it comes driving out of the zone. Not only do his lengthy skate extensions allow him get back into the neutral zone to play preventative defense, but his skate extensions and ankle flexion net enough acceleration to chase after a puck carrier driving the puck from his own zone into the neutral zone. The only acceleration challenge that Jiříček has is when going after defensive recoveries and that can be addressed by using lengthy skate extensions when rotating his body from skating backwards to skating forwards. At the moment, when he rotates, he doesn’t use those lengthy extensions to garner the necessary speed to net possession of the puck.
Jiříček generates good acceleration with his crossovers when skating backwards. But, interestingly, when skating backwards and needing to switch to skating forwards, he tries to right away implement skate extensions instead of crossovers. Instead, he should first use the crossovers to start build up the acceleration. The skate extensions should be used to keep the acceleration / momentum alive. You will also notice Jiříček having the same issues when switching directions out of a pivot.
In addition, he has Good lateral footwork when skating backwards and looking to cut a puck carrier off along the boards. He thrives at cutting off the attack with his lateral footwork. Jiříček will use his lateral crossovers from right to left along the blue line to force an attacker on the rush to dump the puck into the Plzeñ zone. In the offensive zone, Jiříček will use lateral crossovers to shift over from the blue line to the half-wall to grab open ice.
Top pairing defenseman at the NHL level if he works on his positioning in the defensive zone and can continue work on acceleration when hunting for defensive recoveries.
December 22, 2021
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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