Czechia Players to Watch at 2022 WJC

This year’s team representing Czechia at the World Junior Championships should find themselves in the middle of the pack in their pool behind Canada and Finland. They will be fast and fun to watch, but it would be surprising to see them advance far enough into the tournament to play for a medal. They are solid but don’t have the depth of skill at every position as compared to the top teams in each pool.

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

They do, however, have some players that will make their mark on the tournament and should be noticeable in each game they play. I am going to highlight the three players I think will help the Czechs the most in their quest for a place on the podium… their first since 2005.

Jan Mysak – 2020: 48th Overall (Montreal Canadiens)

Jan Mysak is a 6-foot, left-handed centre who can also play on the wing and is someone you are going to see in a Montreal Canadiens uniform sooner than later. He was selected in the second round, and many in Montreal felt the Habs got a steal of a pick. He is a formidable forechecker who can anticipate the play and attack in a north-south direction very effectively, and with this being his third time to the WJCs, you will see him at the top of all scoring stats for the Czechs.

Jan Mysak Hamilton Bulldogs
Jan Mysak, Hamilton Bulldogs (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

This season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League, he has totaled an impressive 31 points on 17 goals and 14 assists in 25 games while averaging more than three shots on goal per game. His no-nonsense style of play will make him the offensive leader on the Czechs’ squad as he will see top-six forward minutes, plus time on every power play. He is an incredibly talented hockey player that will have an impact in every zone on the ice.

David Jiricek – 2022 Draft Eligible

A 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-handed defenseman, Jiricek is one of the elite defensemen available in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The 18-year-old, who just turned 18 at the end of November, is in his second full season with Pizen of the Czech Extraliga. He’s a smooth skater who has the ability to transition from offence to defence seamlessly and whose large frame imposes problems for attacking opponents with his physicality and long reach.

With Pizen this season, Jiricek, the youngest player on the team, has demonstrated his willingness to play the body and get his nose dirty and take advantage of his size, as he leads the team in penalties. But he’s still contributing offensively with five goals and six assists in 31 games. In last year’s WJCs, he scored a goal and added an assist in five games as a 17-year-old.

Related: 2022 World Junior Championship Czechia Preview

Every scout and paid prognosticator has him penciled as a top 10-15 pick of all draft-eligible players, and he’s unanimously included in the top two or three defensemen available this spring. He will see an abundance of ice time in this year’s WJC, as he’ll log minutes on the power play and penalty kill, so he should be a recognizable force in all situations on the ice.

Stanislav Svozil – 2021: 69th Overall (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Stanislav Svozil will be an interesting player to watch in this tournament. He is a defence-first kind of player and will be one of Czechia’s top four defensemen. He has all the tools to play an above-average defensive game with some offensive upside. The Czechs will not only count on him to put a stop to the opponent’s top scorers but to also add some presence in the rush and on the power play.

Drafted last spring in the third round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Svozil is currently playing for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. This season, he has one goal and 17 assists in 26 games and will be counted on to shut down players like Pats’ teammate and Team Canada forward Connor Berard at the WJC. Being 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds will make him a player to be taken seriously by his opponents, and this future NHL’er will make coaches game plan around him. Because of his defensive priorities, he won’t be the easiest player to spot, but that’s what makes him so effective.

Team Czechia should have a solid World Junior Championship. Not one where they will earn a medal, but if these three individuals are able to play at the top of their game, they may upset a team or two.

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