Over the last decade, the Boston Bruins have found great success with their players from the Czech Republic. As fans know, David Krejci was an essential part of the 2011 Stanley Cup win. Their other famous Czech in recent memory, David Pastrnak, just won his record-setting fifth consecutive Czech Player of the Year Award. That broke Jaromir Jagr’s record of four straight wins, and ties him for second overall in total wins with Dominik Hasek. Those are two pretty big names for the 25-year-old to be in the company of.
Hoping to continue their good luck with Czech forwards, the Bruins signed Tomáš Nosek this offseason. He isn’t the same type of forward as Krejci or Pastrnak, but he may prove to be a sneaky good signing for the team.
Nosek doesn’t have the same name or pedigree as fellow free agent signees Erik Haula or Nick Foligno, who have previously been profiled. But, he is a quietly good role player and depth piece that will help reinvigorate a fourth line that struggled in the 2020-21 season.
Road to the NHL
Nosek was born September 1, 1992 (happy belated birthday!) in the city of Pardubice, which was then in Czechoslovakia. He played his juniors hockey in the Czech Republic for his hometown team, HC Pardubice. He also played 14 games on loan to HC Chrudim and HC VCES Hradec Kralove.
He was eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Level Draft, the same year his new teammate Taylor Hall went first overall, and the Bruins selected Tyler Seguin second overall. Nosek went undrafted, and was not selected the following year either, or even the year after that. In total, he was passed over four times in the NHL Entry Level Draft.
In 2012, he served as the captain of the Czech Republic U20 for World Juniors. In 13 games, he registered 4 assists and was a plus-two. He followed that up with a Czech league championship for the 2011-12 season.
In 2013-14, Nosek played in 52 games for Pardubice, scoring 19 goals and 44 total points while being a plus-17 and registering 44 total penalty minutes, the most in the league that season. Following that performance, he was offered an entry level contract with the Detroit Red Wings.
Arrival in North America
Nosek spent the entirety of the 2014-15 season playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Grand Rapids Griffins, giving him a chance to adjust to the North American sized rink, not that he needed it. In his first season he turned heads, scoring 34 points in 55 games, and registered the best plus/minus in the AHL with plus-30. He followed up his great regular season performance with seven points in 12 playoff games.
He made his NHL debut in the 2015-16 season, playing in six games. Nosek spent the majority of the season in Grand Rapids, scoring 30 points in 70 games and registering zero points in nine playoff games. It was a bit step back from the previous season, but he was still plus-13 and had 42 penalty minutes, up from his 22 the previous season.
In the 2016-17 season, Nosek saw an increase in his time up in the NHL, playing in 11 games while registering his first NHL goal, on March 28 of that year against the Carolina Hurricanes. The majority of his season was spent in Grand Rapids where he hit a career high in points, 41 in 51 games. The team went on to win the Calder Cup that year, and he led them with 10 goals and 22 points in 19 playoff games.
Welcome to Vegas
Similar to Haula, Nosek was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Given he only had 17 games of NHL experience, he was a bit of a surprise pick over some of the other names that had been available from Detroit, including Petr Mrazek, who now plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In hindsight, the selection worked out pretty well for Vegas. Nosek was the first person to score an NHL regular season goal in a Golden Knights uniform. He scored in their Oct. 10 home opener, and it was clear that he had found a good fit for himself on the roster.
While he wasn’t a huge name on Vegas’ magical first season, Nosek was a solid contributor. He had 15 points, including seven goals in 67 games and was a plus-six with 14 penalty minutes. He averaged only 11 minutes on ice a night, but found moments to rise to the occasion. His first ever NHL game-winning goal came in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals. It was also his first ever multi-goal NHL game.
Over the subsequent seasons, Nosek put up similar numbers to his first, with his best NHL season coming in 2020-21. In 38 games, he had 18 points, good for an average 0.47 points per game. He was also a plus-seven, his highest plus-minus since starting his NHL career.
What He Brings to the Bruins
I like a lot of the players that were in the Bruins’ bottom six last season, but on a whole, they underperformed. Nosek’s 18 points last season would have put him ahead of Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Trent Frederic, and Chris Wagner. They tried to address it at the trade deadline in April when they brought Curtis Lazar over from the Buffalo Sabres along with Taylor Hall. He had some good moments, but overall, it wasn’t the boost that they needed.
Similar to the other forward signees, Foligno and Haula, who I previously wrote about, Nosek has been brought in to fortify a bottom-[six that desperately needs a new look after last season. After years of knowing that depth scoring is an issue, General Manager Don Sweeney has finally decided to get aggressive in trying to address the issue. With the Hall acquisition last trade deadline, and these three signings, he’s finally making a big effort to build this team down from the top line.
Nosek is a solid acquisition. He won’t be the sole solution, but will be a really good depth piece for this team along with Foligno, Haula, and Derek Forbort on defense. Now that the supporting players are in place and if the team’s core play to their fullest abilities, this Bruins team could cause some issues. The biggest lingering question at this point is who is going to step up into Krejci’s role.
Nosek is 29 years old and is 6-foot-2. Four of his 32 career NHL goals have been game winners, so what the team is getting is a big body who can come up clutch when needed. Coming off of his best NHL season, and in the first year of a new contract, he may quickly become a fan favorite around Boston.