Landing in the 54th slot in our CanucksArmy 2018 NHL Entry Draft rankings is Czech forward Jakub Lauko.
Lauko is a player that impressed at the international tournaments throughout the season and is oozing with skill that makes him a really attractive long-term option in the second round.
As we’ve seen with any teenage prospect, spending your draft year in a men’s professional league is indicative of good things to come and Lauko has spent the last two seasons in the Extraliga. Taking on a bigger role with the club, he put up career highs in goals, assists, and points and followed that up with a good postseason.
Let’s take a look at the agile Jakub Lauko.
- Age/Birthdate:17.47/ March 28, 2000
- Birthplace: Praha, CZE
- Frame:6-foot-1/ 172 lbs
- Position:Centre / Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Pirati Chomutov(Czech)
- Hlinka Memorial Silver Medal
Lauko was selected by Rouyn-Noranda with the 107th overall pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft but opted to remain in the Czech Republic for another season.
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A few things stand out for Lauko including SEAL, XLS% and the fact that he posted a +1.0% GF despite being in a lesser role with Pirati Chomutov. Lauko was most commonly on the third line and that smaller role is quite common for the younger players looking to make a name for themselves in Czech hockey.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Lauko has some encouraging 5v5 eP60 rates given his limited role with the club. As we can see, he generally put up better GF% numbers than his most common linemates.
Despite being limited to 9 points in the Extraliga, 26.5% of his comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars with some really intriguing names hovering close to him. The expected point total is encouraging at 49.3 points per 82 games but that is likely inflated by the likes of Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias.
Lauko is a fantastic skater.
He is very agile on his feet with quick acceleration, top speed and edge work. He is able to change his lanes on a dime and then quickly pick up speed again. The Czech forward uses that swiftness to dance defenders and lose coverage. In terms of skating ability, he is up there among the best in this draft class. A great example of this can be found here:
#U18: Draft prospect goal-of-the-year entry right here as C Jakub Lauko (Ranked No. 52) wires one home after slicing through heavy traffic.
This was a 1-on-5, by the way. pic.twitter.com/M70D7DJYU2
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) November 10, 2017
What stands out is that he can control the puck at those speeds and with those movements. There are quite a few speedy players whose hands can’t keep up with the puck but Lauko keeps the puck within his control with ease. He could be more creative with his attacks as sometimes the speed goes to waste he goes head first into traffic.
Lauko isn’t afraid of those dirty areas though, which is a good thing. He doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff to make things happen.
In the defensive zone, he is a hound on the boards using his quick feet to move around so that he is relentless on the puck carrier. If he does obtain the puck, he’s gone with it out of the zone. He battles and competes in all three zones.
Lauko put up one goal at the U20 World Juniors, four goals at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and six points (3-3-6) at the U18’s World Juniors. He was a large part of the offence for the Czech’s as they secured a bronze medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and shocked Team Canada with a 2-1 win in the Quarterfinals before losing to the US and Sweden to finish fourth.
The Praha native does have some upper body strength issues but it is something that should naturally improve as he matures.
As we can see from the rankings below, quite a few of the public rankings are high on Lauko with some of them having him just outside the first round. There is still some fine-tuning to his game needed which includes creativity with the puck, strength and the ability to recognize where his teammates are. But there is a lot to like about the Czech forward, who can play centre and wing.
He already has an NHL frame (to add that weight), shot, and speed at this age. Not too mention that his underlying numbers and XLS% are encouraging given his limited role with his club this season.
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Talented centre-winger who is a bit farther away from turning pro, but who displays keen offensive skills. Has superb feet and lateral agility to dart and turn defenders inside out in the attack zone. Displays solid vision and creative play-making, coupled with end to end speed. Didn’t see much playing time in World Junior U-20 but shined at the Five Nations under 18. Has really nice hands and a quick release on his snap shot. Needs to get much stronger and bulk up and needs to be a 60 minute dominant attacker. So far, his dynamic offense shows, but seems to fade and disappear. He sometimes play so fast, that his take-ways leave his line mates in the dust behind the play, so learning to use his speed, create space and let plays percolate are what need developing, along with upper body strength. Not ready to absorb the physicality of the pro game, I would call him a work in progress hwo has to get better defensively and continue to grow his hockey awareness.