When discussing the Vancouver Canucks’ recent draft record, one year fans love to bring up is 2015 – and rightfully so. The Canucks had made a surprise appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, resulting in a relatively late first-round pick (23rd overall), which they used on none other than Brock Boeser.
With Boeser succeeding as a rookie this season, it’s easy to forget the rest of his draft class. But there were others.
Centre Adam Gaudette, selected in the fifth round, is expected to sign with the club in the summer. Defenceman Guillaume Brisebois is playing well with the AHL Utica Comets, and was referenced by GM Jim Benning in his post-extension press conference as someone who will help the Canucks’ defence going forward. Vancouver also still holds Russian winger Dmitri Zhukenov’s rights.
And then there’s Lukas Jasek – our No. 20 in the midterm prospect rankings.
A little reminder, here is how the list was assembled:
Seven lists, including six from Canucks Army writers (Jeremy Davis, J.D. Burke, Ryan Biech, Jackson McDonald, Vanessa Jang, and myself) plus the reader rankings, were consolidated into one list. The parameters are that each prospect must:
- be under the age of 25;
- have played fewer than 25 NHL games; and
- be under contract to the Vancouver Canucks or on their reserve (e.g. as an unsigned draft choice).
How we got here
Jasek already had 28 games with HC Trinec in the Czech Extraliga (the country’s top-tier professional league) to his record when the Canucks picked him up. But having gone without a single point in those appearances, he dropped all the way to 174th overall. The Canucks, however, saw something in the winger who also had ten goals and 27 points in his 24 junior games that season.
Jasek’s post-draft career has been a constant up-and-down so far. As he told our own J.D. Burke, Jasek would have liked to move to the CHL, but wasn’t allowed to do so:
“I wanted to play in the CHL,” Jasek told Canucks Army. “The Canucks wanted (that) also, to watch (me) play there”. “I still have contractual obligations to HC Trinec for another season” Jasek continued “of course, I tried to persuade my general manager to allow (my participation in the Import Draft) but without success”.
So instead, he continued his efforts in his home country. In 2015-16, Jasek had 15 goals and 28 points in just 24 junior games. He also spent time in the Czech Republic’s third, second, and first-tier pro leagues, including 26 more games in the Extraliga. But in a limited role, his boxscores were dominated by zeros.
In 2016-17, we saw more of the same. Jasek could score everywhere other than the first-tier Extraliga.
At lower levels, when given proper opportunity, Jasek always delivered. But as Canucks Army’s Ryan Biech covered in an article back in October, Jasek’s average ice time at the highest level never reached nine minutes. He barely received special-teams time either, so his lack of production really wasn’t all that surprising.
And as a result, Jasek’s chances of reaching the NHL according to Canucks Army’s pGPS model, reached zero.
This season, things finally changed.
Jasek left Trinec and signed with league rivals Bili Tygri Liberec. With the Tigers, he is seeing regular ice time as a top-six forward, and is used on the man advantage as well. As of today, he sits at 17 points (8-9-17) in 44 games. While he’s certainly leaving room for improvement, it is enough to revive his NHL hopes.
So what can we expect?
I personally ranked Jasek 12th among Canucks prospects, resulting in the second-largest deviation from my list to our average ranking. While part of that is due to my European bias because I see much more of the European prospects than those in the AHL or North American junior, I also see a prospect who, despite the numbers being somewhat against him, displays some scoring upside that could one day take him to the NHL.
One element Jasek can bring to the game is speed. When he gets the puck on the wing, he wastes no time before taking off and making his way to the offensive zone. And despite being listed at just 6-foot-1 and 172 pounds, he possesses the ability to drive to the net.
Of course, a long summer or two in the weight room could really help. But with his puck skills and hard-working style, Jasek can make plays even under heavy pressure from bigger defenders. He never takes a shift off, and often outworks his opponents.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) September 25, 2017
While he was considered a strong playmaker with an accurate shot in his draft year, I see him more as a promising scorer today. He sure does have solid vision and some playmaking upside as well, but that doesn’t seem to be the defining element of his skill set anymore.
Rather, Jasek particularly stands out by being very smart around the net, whether he finishes off chances he created himself or hovers around the slot waiting for rebounds.
Furthermore, Jasek has a strong shot arsenal. He needs a relatively long wind-up for his wrist shots, but can get them at the net dangerously, and he also possesses an accurate one-timer, which can be a weapon on the power play.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 2, 2017
Finally, Jasek has been seeing time as a penalty-killer as well. It’s not like he’s the go-to guy for Liberec when they have a man in the box, but with his agility, awareness, and stick work, he has been a solid secondary option – it simply adds some versatility to his game.
Looking at his numbers, the odds are clearly against him. Jasek had a strong start into the year, but his production has since fallen off, and he currently ranks eighth in team scoring with just .39 points per game.
Jasek is without a doubt a long shot to make the NHL at this point, but there certainly is hope. And with plenty of big, low-scoring forwards trying their luck in the AHL year after year, I’ll take my chances with a skilled player like Jasek.
- 31st to 28th: Mackenze Stewart, Anton Cederholm, Yan-Pavel Laplante
- 27th to 25th: Kristoffer Gunnarsson, Jakob Stukel, Dmitry Zhukenov
- 24th to 23rd: Griffen Molino, Cole Cassels
- 22nd to 21st: Ashton Sautner, Joseph LaBate