The Vancouver Canucks picked Karel Plasek with the 175th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and on Tuesday, announced that he had signed a three-year entry-level contract with the organization.
Lil’ Pláš will likely report to the Abbotsford AHL team this fall. He has four years of professional experience in the Czech league with Kometa Brno and was tenth in scoring on the team last season. Plasek skates well and has a thick build that should help him compete in the AHL next season.
He has stayed very healthy throughout his career in the Czech league and has shown an offensive upside when he has had stints in the Czech second division. Plasek is also a two-time World Junior Championship player for the Czech Republic and has a total of 15 points in 29 international games with the Czech U-20 team.
He comes from a good hockey family as his father, Karel Plasek Sr. played 30 professional seasons in the Czech leagues and at one point as a player/assistant coach. You can see that the hockey sense was passed down to his son as Plasek Jr. is a competitor on every shift and is not afraid to be physical on every shift.
Plasek plays the left wing but did see some time on the right wing throughout his time in the Czech leagues. He was not a scoring machine in those leagues so he will likely not come in and blow the doors off the Abbotsford barn this season. He will play the game the right way and should slot into a bottom-six line with the ability to kill penalties and potentially contribute on a second power play unit.
He is a player who does not shy away from tough play in the corners and has a good release on his shot that should be able to notch him some goals at the AHL level.
I don’t see him as a true NHL prospect but we won’t know for sure until he gets a ride in the AHL. At just 20 years old, this is a nice swing for the Canucks to see how he fits in with the North American game. Plasek was sixth in the Czech league for scoring from U21 players and definitely has a game that looks like it will fit with Trent Cull’s coaching style.
He isn’t going to be flashy but Plasek is going to help the Abbotsford AHL team fill out their roster and should get time on both special teams units next season.
For a sixth round pick, he is worth a swing on an entry-level contract. I personally thought he could have used another year or two in the Czech league to become more of an offensive contributor but with the AHL team now being closer to Vancouver, I’d expect more prospects in a similar position will want to be in Abbotsford compared to Utica.
This type of early signing would be an interesting approach that the organization will feel more confident about with the AHL so close to home. I’d expect to see some overseas prospects like Viktor Persson, Dmitri Zlodeyev, Toni Utunen and Joni Jurmo feel more confident about coming to North America earlier with the AHL team now just down the road from the big club.
It’s another advantage of moving the AHL team and next season, we will see Lil’ Pláš be the first overseas prospect to join the Abbotsford AHL team and I’d hope that more follow.