One of the top young goaltending prospects signed a new NHL contract and made his debut in the league within the past couple of days. Also, another junior team in the United States is suspending operations for the upcoming season. Finally, we take a look at a potential top-10 pick out of the Czech Republic.
Vladar’s Huge Week
Dan Vladar is one of the top goaltending prospects close to making an impact in the NHL. He had an incredible 2019-20 season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 25 games, he posted a league-leading .936 save percentage (SV%) and 1.79 goals-against average.
After Tuukka Rask decided to leave the Boston Bruins to return to his family on Aug. 15, Vladar dressed to backup Jaroslav Halak. After watching a handful of games from the bench, the Bruins decided to make sure the lockup the 23-year-old netminder. On Sunday, the team signed him to a three-year contract extension worth $750,000 per season. The first two years of the deal are a two-year contract, while the final season, 2022-23, is a one-way contract.
Vladar’s eventful week continued on Wednesday when he made his NHL debut. With the Bruins trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, midway through the second period, head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to make the switch and put the younger into the game. Vladar gave up three goals on 15 shots, but it was hard to blame him as the team defense in front of him was questionable, at best.
“He’s in there battling. Listen, it was a point where we felt that if we need Dan Vladar, maybe this is a better way to get him some work,” Cassidy said of his decision during his postgame press conference.
“Less a reflection on Jaro. Give him a break. Let’s get a look at him. It was four to one I believe and Tampa got energized from that second period and I think we were deflated. I just had a gut feeling our guys were going to have a tough time pushing back from three goals down, so let’s look at Vladdy. I’ll have to look at it more. There’s a lot of things going on. (Goalie coach Bob Essensa) will talk to Vladdy. I’m glad he got an opportunity to play. I don’t wish it in that circumstance, but it is what it is and he got him some work. Hopefully, he’s better off for it down the road.”
Vladar and the Bruins are trailing the Lightning 2-1 in their best-of-the-seven series.
Another NAHL Team Shuts Down
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) is starting to see an unwelcomed trend. For the second time this week, one of their teams has decided to suspend operations for the 2020-21 season. After the Corpus Christi IceRays announced their decision to not play the upcoming season on Monday, the Kansas City Scouts made the same announcement on Wednesday.
This would have been their first season as the Scouts after the former Topeka Pilots moved to Shawnee, Kansas back in May.
“The Scouts had recently transitioned to a new area and it became clear that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were going to restrict their operations,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “It is important for us to continually to be able to adapt and keep dialogue open with our teams to address their concerns, and we support the Kansas City Scouts decision and look forward to their return in 2021-22 in the Kansas City area.”
Junior hockey leagues in the United States are facing bigger challenges than the teams in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The teams of the NAHL and United States Hockey League (USHL) are spread out much farther apart than those in the three regional leagues of the CHL. The NAHL has teams in Alaska, Texas, Florida and everywhere in between. It will be interesting to see if they are able to pull off any sort of season this fall and winter.
Prospect of the Week – Jan Myšák
We are heading overseas to the Czech Republic to take a look at a potential top 10 pick in this October’s NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot, left winger is ranked fifth among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Myšák comes in as the 12th overall player in THW’s Josh Bell’s final draft rankings.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Myšák started the 2019-20 season with HC Litvinov in his home country, where he scored five goals and nine points in 26 games. He eventually made the trip over to North America and joined the Hamilton Bulldogs. In 22 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) games, he scored 15 goals and 25 points before the season was canceled.
It was his play in the OHL that shot Myšák up the draft board. Scouts are high on his instincts and vision, which he uses to be a dual-threat with both his shot and his passing. He is one of the best skaters in the entire draft class and that allows him to create space the ice to drive the offense.
Myšák uses his speed and vision while on defense to take away passing lane and start the transition back up the ice. While he might be a bit undersized, he has no problem playing with an edge when the situation calls for it.
Our own Andrew Forbes thinks Myšák could be a top-six forward in the NHL if he maximizes his potential.
If he can round out some small holes in his game, Myšák could play his way into a top-six role at some point in his NHL career. While he’s almost surely going to be a lottery pick (among the top 10), he won’t be touching NHL ice in the next year or two. Whichever team takes him, look for them to use the time they have to develop the young Czech into a future top-four winger on their NHL squad and recognize that it takes time to get there. Even then, he could start his career as a third-line winger, depending on how quickly and how well he develops his game both offensively and in his own zone.
Like most junior players, needs to work on his consistency and work in the defensive zone. He will start the 2020-21 season with HC Litvinov, once again, but plans on making the trip back to Ontario when the Bulldogs open their training camp sometime in November.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.