2020-21 Team: Rytiri Kladno
Date of Birth: Jan. 30, 2003
Place of Birth: Kladno, Czech Republic
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 170 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligibility
Jiri Tichacek is a small defender playing in a second division European professional league, who did not tally many points in his 2020-21 season. So, why would any NHL team draft him?
To me, Tichacek will be a case study in what makes an NHL defenseman, and that will play out if a team selects him, because he’s a project. However, it should be noted that his successes and faults were all recorded in a men’s professional league, which in my mind is a huge positive. Fun fact: he plays on Jaromir Jagr’s club, which earned promotion back into the top Czech division for next season.
In the second division, Tichacek tallied two assists in 17 games. At the junior Czech level, he produced two goals and four points in two games this year. He always had success offensively at the junior level, but Kladno seemed to want him to play a more reserved style of hockey.
The best part of Tichacek’s game is his mobility. He can cover large areas, especially at the offensive blue line, very effectively. When positioned correctly, he can defend the rush properly and manage gaps well.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
For a small defenseman, he is ordinarily positioned well and is smart when it comes to solving problems in the defensive zone. This is likely coached, because Tichacek will, at times, make risky plays that end poorly. Overall, he is a composed and sound defenseman in a men’s professional league, who at times can show offensive upside with his stickhandling and passing.
However, Tichacek also has deficiencies in his game that make drafting him even more of a gamble. Obviously, as a smaller-bodied player, his strength must improve. In transition, on the odd time that he is not positioned correctly, he is unable to outmuscle opposing forwards and will be beaten easily by their better strength.
In select instances, Tichacek also tries too hard when there are simpler and more responsible plays he could make. Sometimes the Czech blueliner will make an unreal pass to find a teammate open, while in other instances Tichacek will turn the puck over and have little ability to recover.
On these turnovers, Tichaek clearly lacks strength or a large reach to effectively challenge opponents to regain the puck.
If I had to sum up what Tichacek will become in the future, I would emphasize that he is a huge project. He could break the stereotype that smaller blueliners lack defensive reliability, and have the ability to log assists with his vision that shows flashes of quality. However, if his strength and occasional mental lapses do not improve, he will not become an NHLer.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Jiri Tichacek – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
As is clear from my reservations about Tichacek’s game and his lacking appearances on prominent scouting sites, he is not a lock to even be selected in the NHL Draft. Many prospects at his size usually see much more offensive success than Tichacek has. Regardless, I believe some team will take a chance on this interesting prospect, and make a late-round selection on this fascinating case study.
- Quick Stride
- Lateral Movement/Mobility
- Vision (in the offensive zone)
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Transition Positioning (at times)
Oddly, I would not classify him as an outright high-risk, high-reward prospect. I think his deficiencies, needing to gain strength, and, at times focus, are fairly normal and can be curbed with time allowed to develop. I do not see a high-potential player. I think Tichacek can become a second or third-pair defenseman with the possibility to quarterback a second power-play unit.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6/10, Defense – 7.5/10
Jiri Tichacek Statistics
Josh Frojelin is a young writer from the Bay Area. Josh grew up as a Sharks fan, being introduced to hockey by his father. He is now attached to his phone, waiting to hear the latest in hockey news. In addition to writing, Josh loves theatre, and his corgi Rocky.