By Eldon MacDonald
Jan Košťálek - “Mr. “Bunker Buster” – Defense – Czech Republic
Size: 6’0”, 179 lb.
Born:17-Feb-95 – Prague, Czech Republic
Team: #3, Rimouski Océanic, QMJHL
QMJHL draft: #10 – 2012 CHL Import Draft
2011-12 Stats: QJMHL Rookie
Unranked – NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Rankings
25 – The Scouting Report – Sep-12 – Preliminary Top 30
Jan Košťálek doesn’t look like much of a bunker buster. He stands at a slender 6’0 and weighs a modest 179 lb. However, try explaining that to Christopher Clapperton of the Blainville-Boisbrand Armada after the game on October 17, 2012. Check it out and tell me you don’t agree that the hit has the “bunker buster” feel of complete and utter annihilation. Warning: it is not for the squeamish. After you are done talking with me, you might mention to Jan that a few boxing lessons might be in order for next summer as he didn’t look too Foreman-like in a bout with Xavier Ouellet (Detroit 2011 2nd round draft choice) after the hit.
Jan Košťálek, The Hockey Player
Outside of Océanic supporters and a few die-hard QMJHL fans, most in North America have never heard of Jan Košťálek. Jan Košťálek may be new to hockey fans over here but he is not new to hockey. In fact, Jan is already a veteran of international hockey at the ripe old age of 17 having played in some 40 matches for his country, the Czech Republic (19-U16; 11-U17; 6-U18; 4-U19). In addition, he has suited up for 10 games for HC Sparta Praha of the top Czech professional league, playing against men.
Last year, the Rimouski Océanic had two import Czech players, Petr Straka, a Columbus 2010 2nd round draft choice, and Jakub Culek, an Ottawa 2010 3rd round selection. Therefore, given their obvious success with Czech players, it was not surprising that the team went back to the Czech Republic for their 1st selection in the 2012 CHL import (10th overall pick) and chose Jan. Given the high quality of Jan’s play so far, I suspect they are glad they did.
What do you see when catch Jan Košťálek on the ice? Well, you get the same look and feel as to when you are handed the keys to your new car. Unlike you old clunker, everything works, it goes through the gears with smoothness and ease, it doesn’t rattle when there are bumps in the road, the handling is sharp and precise and it responds well to changing road conditions.
Alright – that’s enough with the new car analogy. I am writing this article because I just finished writing an article on Jan’s teammate, Frédérik Gauthier. During the writing of that article I saw Jan play a lot and I liked what I saw. I saw a poised, mature defender of modest stature play a professional type of two-way game. Everything was smooth; his skating, his breakout passes, his ability to move the puck up ice, his skill in keeping defenders at bay. Košťálek looks like a reliable 20 year-old defender playing in the CHL waiting for the NHL to finally get its act together. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t smooth was his bunker buster hits which caused the building to shake a bit.
As for negatives, Jan is still of modest size and strength and looks like a lot of Europeans who have not used the gym to the same extent as North Americans have. Nothing a savvy trainer and some work ethic won’t fix.
The Road To The 2013 NHL Draft
Where is Jan Košťálek projecting to go in the 2013 NHL draft? The Scouting Report had him in their preliminary top 30 ranked at 25. A player of similar size and skills, Stuart Percy, went in the 1st round to Toronto in 2011 indicating the 1st round is not completely out of the realm of possibility.
For me, Jan is more likely to be a 2nd round pick as most defensemen of modest size chosen in the 1st round generally have elite powerplay skills. While Jan is effective on the powerplay, he is not of the wow you type that one generally sees in a 1st round potential pick.
The team that picks Jan in the 2nd is likely to have a greater chance of successfully finding a NHL hockey player than most teams picking in the 2nd round (33% success rate: picks 31-45; 24% for picks 46 to 60) as he mainly needs to add weight and strength to round out the requirements to be a professional.
The NHL 2013 Draft War Room Prospect Profile series is adding another feature to each profile. It is called “The Music Match” where we try to match the tempo and style of play of a player with a song.
For Jan Košťálek, the Music Match song is “Easy as Sunday Morning” by Lionel Ritchie as performed by Ivete Sangalo (a Brazilian songstress that I particularly like). I chose this song because its smoothness matches the smoothness and poise of Jan on the ice. Of course, Jan needs another song to accompany his monster-like bunker buster hits – and – that song would be, of course, be The Monster Mash with Bobby (Boris) Pickett and The Cryptkickers, the classic song of Halloween’s past. Feel free to add your song match below.
Chris Ralph: “Smooth Criminal” (either version of the song) is fitting given the smooth nature with which Jan separates opposing forwards from the puck.