With the 6th pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected David Jiricek from HC Skoda Plzen of Czech Tipsport
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker
About David Jiricek
It’s a two-horse race for the 2022 NHL Draft’s best defenceman, and David Jiricek has made a strong argument that he deserves the title. In 29 games with HC Skoda Plzen of the Czech Tipsport, he scored five times and finished with 11 points, the second-highest total of any player under 20 years old in the league and the highest point-per-game pace. A broken leg shortened his season, but he was still selected to the Czech National Team for the World Championship, where he put up the second-most goals and points en route to a bronze medal.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
While Jiricek isn’t as smooth of a skater as Simon Nemec, he’s incredibly tough to avoid when he decides someone needs to be stopped. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, he’s big and powerful with a great reach, but also smart. When facing down opponents, he’s able to effortlessly knock the puck away from an opponent, then shift gears quickly to carry the puck back up the ice into the offensive zone. There are some aggression concerns, as he was suspended for two games for a hit to the head this season, and his 49 penalty minutes ranked 24th league-wide, but that may be just what someone is looking for to give their blue line a little extra bite.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“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.
“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.
“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.”
How This Affects the Blue Jackets Plans
There are roughly five players expected to drastically change their team’s fortunes, and Jiricek is one of them. He can truly do it all on the blue line, whether it’s contributing offensively with a big shot and excellent vision for developing plays or back on defence, where his powerful frame can lay a well-timed hit or knock the puck away for a sneaky breakout. The Blue Jackets have a stacked pipeline already with offensively-minded blueliners like Adam Boqvist and Corson Cuelemans, but Jiricek brings a stronger two-way presence to the team that they were missing behind Zack Werenski.
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.