The Minnesota Wild have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, a deep pool that has potential at every position, ranging from possible game-breaking superstars to depth players who will struggle to break into an NHL lineup. One of the most impressive notes about the club’s elite prospect pool is that they stayed competitive while building it and never had to enter a rebuild to collect draft picks.
It takes a special talent to be able to get maximum value from every draft pick, and the Wild’s director of amateur scouting, Judd Bracket, is one of those talents. Not only has he been able to grab elite players in the first round, but he has also been able to identify and collect NHL-caliber players from the later rounds as well. The most recent example of this is emerging from a fifth-round pick in 2022 when the Wild selected right-handed defenseman, David Spacek.
Spacek’s Pedigree Is Elite
The 20-year-old may have been born in Columbus, but his Czech roots come directly from his father, former NHLer Jaroslav Spacek.
Coincidentally, Jaroslav was also drafted in the fifth round but in 1998 by the Florida Panthers. He entered the NHL almost immediately and played just two seasons before being traded in his third season to the Chicago Blackhawks, starting a career that would see him bounce around the league for 13 years, playing for seven different teams, including one season as an alternate captain.
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The elder Spacek had an illustrious career of 880 NHL games, playing with the Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, and Carolina Hurricanes. He produced 82 goals, 263 assists, 628 penalty minutes, Olympic gold and bronze medals, three World Championship gold medals, and a son that looks primed to follow in his path.
David’s Path to the Draft
David’s hockey career started by working his way through the Czechia leagues from 2017 until 2021, including an appearance in the 2021 Under 18 World Junior Championship. He was passed over in his first year of draft eligibility and subsequently moved to North America, where his game exploded on the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
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That season, he produced 50 points (12 goals and 38 assists) in 57 regular-season games and averaged over a point per game in the team’s 11 playoff games. His play was good enough to find a roster spot on the 2022 Czechia World Juniors squad, where he was named one of the top three players on a team that stunned the hockey world by defeating Team U.S.A. in the quarterfinals.
His performance was good enough to attract the eyes of the right people in the Wild’s organization, who selected the overage defenseman at 153rd overall. Now, Wild fans might be a little bit skewed on what to expect from a fifth-round pick, as the best player the Wild have ever drafted came from their 2015 fifth-rounder, but the reality is that most players drafted that late will never see any NHL ice time. Spacek is on his way to becoming the exception.
Spacek Continues to Improve
After bursting onto the scene last season, Spacek’s confidence and skills have continued to improve this season with the Phoenix. He is playing massive minutes, raking up 46 points in 49 games on one of the (arguably) top five teams in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
Even more impressive was his breakout performance in the 2023 World Juniors when he tied for second on the team in scoring with eight points in seven games, along with being a critical component of the only team that managed to slow down MVP Connor Bedard. Bedard was limited to just one point in their two meetings – he had 22 points in his other five games. Spacek collected a silver medal for his efforts and was again named one of Czechia’s top-three players of the tournament.
Spacek Turning Pro Next Season
As a reward for all of his efforts, Spacek was greeted with a shiny new three-year, entry-level contract with the Wild on Mar. 6, starting in the 2023-24 season when he is expected to play for the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League (AHL). He will join a mob of young defensive prospects, such as Carson Lambos and Brock Faber, trying to break into the Wild’s already solid lineup, but if he can maintain his dominant two-way play at a higher level, he could be well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps.
*Data collected from eliteprospects.com