2021-22 Team: HC Skoda Plzen (Czechia)
Date of Birth: Nov. 28, 2003
Place of Birth: Klatovy, CZE
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 190 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 4 (amongst EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 10
- TSN/Bob McKenzie: 7
- Dobber Prospects: 7
- Smaht Scouting: 5
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 9
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 11
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 9
If you were the general manager of an NHL team and you were looking to add a steady, all-around defenseman, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who can contribute in all areas of the game the way that David Jiricek can. Hailing from Czechia, Jiricek started his hockey career playing for HC Plzen’s youth team in his hometown.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
He got his first true taste of pro hockey in 2020-21 when he joined his hometown pro team, HC Skoda Plzen. He finished the season with nine points in 34 games as a 17-year-old and also represented Czechia at the 2021 World Juniors, where he added two points in five games. These are quite the accomplishments for a 17-year-old, and it was then that he started to attract the eyes of scouts.
Jiricek started 2021-22 the same way he finished the 2020-21 season, with 11 points through his first 29 games and a spot locked up on Czechia’s 2022 World Junior team. Unfortunately for Jiricek, he suffered a knee injury in Czechia’s first game against Canada and is still on the shelf recovering after he underwent knee surgery in early January. The tournament ended up being postponed due to multiple COVID-19 outbreaks anyways, but it was still a horrible way for Jiricek’s tournament to end.
With the Klatovy native only having played half a season, some might paint him as harder to evaluate because he didn’t get a full draft season. However, those who watch Jiricek would know that there’s still plenty to like about his game regardless of how many games he’s played this year. He’s the textbook definition of a two-way defenseman and really doesn’t have too many holes in his game.
Offensively, he’s extremely skilled when it comes to patrolling the blue line, be it at even strength or on the power play. He’s one of the most explosive skaters among defensemen, and while his acceleration needs some work, he’s a hard player to slow down when you factor in his size. His edgework is very good and he also possesses what I believe might be one of the best shots among defensemen in the 2022 draft class. Whether it’s a booming one-timer or a deceptive wrist shot, Jiricek’s point shots typically end up in the back of the net before you can blink.
Defensively, he has elite gap control when it comes to boxing out incoming opponents. He’s incredibly hard to shake off when he’s chasing the puck carrier, and he uses his frame at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds to his advantage. While he’s not a Scott Stevens clone on the back end, he’s certainly not known to shy away from laying a big hit every now and then. Watching him play, I see similarities between Jiricek and Detroit Red Wings star rookie Moritz Seider. Both are right-handed defensemen at roughly the same height and weight, and both can impact the game in just about any aspect.
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David Jiricek – Draft Projection
To me, the clear-cut top two defensemen in this draft class are Jiricek and Slovakian blueliner Simon Nemec. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, but Nemec likely has the edge, and with the amount of talented forwards at the top end of this draft class, it’s probably a safe bet to say Jiricek goes in the top-10. However, if a team likes what they see enough, it wouldn’t shock me to see him sneak into the top-5.
“Mobile defender with good size and a bomb of a shot from the point. Plays a physical brand of hockey and has the potential to contribute in a variety of ways as an NHL defenseman.” -Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“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.” -Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“Jiricek is an exceptional two-way defender that shows a strong transition ability. He reads the play so well, playing like a veteran defender well above his age. He regularly shows very impressive reads, noting where players are and correctly attacking or hanging back as needed.” -Josh Bell, FC Hockey
- Strong two-way game
- Skating and edgework
- Gap control
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Decision making
Make no mistake, Jiricek has all the tools to become an effective, top-pairing defenseman in the NHL someday. Whether or not he can put those tools to work in North America remains yet to be seen, but assuming he can, he’s got all the skills to carve out a long NHL career.
Risk 1/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 6.5/10, Defense 8/10
Jiricek was named a top-3 player for Team Czechia at the 2021 World Juniors and Czech Extraliga Rookie of the Year in 2020-21
David Jiricek Statistics
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Alex Hobson is a writer and a radio producer for 610 CKTB. He has been writing about sports since 2015 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Sticks in the 6ix Podcast, presented by THW. He also makes weekly appearances on THW’s Maple Leafs Lounge Roundtable. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.