2022 World Junior Championship Team Czechia Final Roster

If Czechia are to break their 16-year World Junior Championship medal drought in 2022, head coach Radim Rulík will need his bourgeoning stars to make an impact in Edmonton. After all, the Czechs arrive in Canada with low expectations, following three straight seventh-place finishes at the U20 WJC.

There is pressure on Czechia’s current crop of prospects to deliver following the reintroduction of the relegation round at this year’s tournament. If the Czechs finish adrift in Group A, they will contest a best-of-three playoff series against Group B’s bottom side — an unpalatable outcome for a strong program.

2020 IIHF World Junior Championship Czechia
Czechia (The Hockey Writers)

Leading Czechia’s charge against the drop is defenceman David Jiříček. He was recently selected sixth overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, overcoming the injury he suffered at January’s COVID-19-curtailed WJC to earn an entry-level contract off the bat.

But what about the rest of Czechia’s roster? Has general manager Otakar Černý assembled a squad deep enough for his players to start looking up the standings rather than over their shoulders?

Goaltenders

Jan Bednář (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL)Tomáš Suchánek (Tri-City, WHL)Pavel Čajan (Kitchener, OHL).

Heading into this year’s competition, Czechia boasts a strong goaltending ensemble. Jan Bednar, an unsigned Detroit Red Wings prospect, finished last season with a .912 save percentage (SV%) through 47 appearances for Acadie-Bathurst Titan, with Tomáš Suchánek and Pavel Čajan also impressing for their junior teams.

HC Energie Karlovy Vary Jan Bednar
Jan Bednar, of HC Energie Karlovy Vary, will start for Czechia at the 2022 World Juniors (http://www.hokejkv.cz/)

The 19-year-old Bednar, drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 2020, is an impressive athlete who, at 6-foot-4, towers above his opponents. He is a quick and agile post-to-post mover, which allows him to make highlight reel saves. The Karlovy Vary-born stopper also has an uncompromising attitude to net-front battles, making him an enjoyable watch in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

Čajan will back up Bednar, who was named Kitchener Rangers MVP for 2021-22 and finished the season with .901 save percentage. Suchánek looks to be third in line entering the tournament, despite enjoying a solid debut season in the Western Hockey League with the Tri-City Americans.

Defencemen

David Moravec (Mladá Boleslav), Jiří Ticháček (Kladno), Stanislav Svozil (Regina, WHL), Aleš Čech (Oulu, Finland), Štěpán Němec (Litoměřice), David Jiříček (Plzeň), David Špaček (Sherbrooke, QMJHL), Tomáš Hamara (Tappara Tampere, Finland).

After his top-10 selection at this year’s draft, Jiříček remains Czechia’s headline act on the blue line. He clocked 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 29 Czech Extraliga appearances for HC Plzeň, overcoming injury to make his senior international debut in May.

Related: Columbus Blue Jackets Draft David Jiricek 6th Overall

The 6-foot-3 defenceman is a smooth-skating, two-way option, with his size and mobility among his key strengths. Jiříček will compete for a spot on the Blue Jackets roster this fall, using the World Juniors as a launching pad for 2022-23.

Stanislav Svozil, another Columbus prospect, brings quality to the left side of Czechia’s defence. He skates well — despite lacking top-end footspeed — and is a fine stick handler. His shot can be hard or accurate — but is infrequently both.

Jiri Tichacek is also an intriguing defenceman. The 19-year-old is only 5-foot-9 but compensates for his size disadvantage by covering every inch of ice, as he is agile, fast, and loves defending against the rush. He accumulated eight points (two goals, six assists) in 41 Extraliga appearances last season.

Rulík’s roster also includes David Spacek and Tomas Hamara, draftees of the Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators, respectively. They will be hoping to start their post-draft seasons with a strong run in Edmonton.

Forwards

Petr Hauser (Sparta Praha), Adam Měchura (Liberec), Tomáš UrbanDaniel Herčík (both Pardubice), Jiří Kulich (Karlovy Vary), Matouš Menšík (Jihlava), Jaroslav Chmelař (Providence College, NCAA), Michal Gut (Everett, WHL), Martin Ryšavý (Moose Jaw, WHL), Gabriel Szturc (Kelowna, WHL), Ivan Ivan (Cape Breton, QMJHL), Jan Myšák (Hamilton, OHL), Matyáš Šapovaliv (Saginaw, OHL), Jakub Kos (Ilves Tampere, Finland).

Team Czechia’s options up front are slightly less exciting than on the back end. Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Myšák is a smart forechecker who knows how to light the lamp. The 19-year-old registered 64 points (34 goals, 30 assists) through 61 appearances for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Hamilton Bulldogs — adding to the two goals (in 22 appearances) he scored in the American Hockey League last season.

Moreover, Myšák is a WJC returnee. The 18-year-old was drafted 28th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the latest draft and will have a crucial role to play as Czechia’s first-line centre in Alberta. Kulich, a left-shooter, was a solid performer in the Extraliga last season, notching 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 49 games for HC Energie Karlovy Vary. He forechecks intelligently, has impressive hand-eye coordination, and is a dependable player on the man advantage.

Although Kulich isn’t a prolific scorer, his early start in Czechia’s top division is a testament to his quality. Despite signing an entry-level deal in Buffalo, he will return to the Extraliga for another year of development in 2022-23.

Jakub Kos, a sixth-round selection by the Florida Panthers in 2021, is also in contention to play a big role. The 6-foot-2 left-winger endured a tough start to last season (he went goalless through seven appearances in the Finnish Liiga) but rebounded during a successful stint in the second tier. With Czechia likely to spend a lot of time in their own zone against Canada, the 19-year-old’s defensive attributes will come in handy in Group A.

Czechia’s forward group includes four more NHL prospects: Jaroslav Chmelar (NYR), Petr Hauser (NJD), Martin Rysavy (CBJ), and Matyas Sapovaliv (VGK). Each has a point to prove in Edmonton.

Will Team Czechia Medal in 2022?

Although Czechia is short on depth heading into this year’s World Junior Championship, Rulík has several game-breakers in his ranks. Bednar has built a reputation for making spectacular saves, Jiříček is now a lofty draft selection and Myšák, although prone to attack in straight lines, is a second-round pick that has found his scoring touch.

David Jiricek Columbus Blue Jackets 2022 Draft
David Jiricek, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

They also have the benefit of being on the “easier” side of the draw and are more than capable of overpowering Austria — who finished last in 2021 — and Germany — who are without Tim Stützle, John Peterka, and Lukas Reichel this time out. In other words, Rulík and Co. should finish higher than seventh this time around.


Team CanadaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team USAPlayers to WatchRoster
Team AustriaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team CzechiaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team FinlandPlayers to WatchRoster
Team GermanyPlayers to WatchRoster
Team LatviaRoster
Team SlovakiaRoster
Team SwedenPlayers to WatchRoster
Team SwitzerlandPlayers to WatchRoster

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