The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in a strong position with owning the fifth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Plenty of prospects bring elite NHL potential to this year’s draft. The fifth-overall selection will be an important one for Philadelphia. A team that failed to meet expectations in 2021-2022 will hope to add a future core player on draft day.
Who is David Jiricek?
David Jiricek, 18, is a 6-foot-3 right-handed defenseman from the Czech Republic who plays for HC Plzen. He’s ranked #4 amongst European skaters on the NHL Central Scouting list and is the highest-ranked defenseman in the entire draft class.
Jiricek scored 11 points (5G, 6A) in 29 games with HC Plzen this year and he earned a spot on the Czech Republic’s 2022 World Junior team. During his first World Junior game this year, Jiricek injured his knee which required surgery in January.
Jiricek is a unique all-around defenseman. He can contribute to all aspects of the game. His strong two-way play gives him a huge upside.
Jiricek is very skilled offensively and he doesn’t have a hard time finding the back of the net. He has an accurate shot and if it doesn’t hit the net, it’s likely to be deflected by a teammate.
Shifting to defense, this is where Jiricek really shines. His ability to cut off passing lanes and box out opponents is elite. His skating ability is very impressive given his size. When he gets moving, he’s very hard to slow down.
Right-handed defensemen who can contribute to all aspects of the game are rare to come by. The Flyers lacked a right-handed all-around defenseman this year with Ryan Ellis missing 78 games due to injury. A right-handed defenseman with Jiricek’s abilities is much needed for the Flyers’ defense.
There aren’t many holes in Jiricek’s game, but his acceleration and decision-making can be improved. Jiricek is a quick defenseman, but his first few strides are short. Gaining more speed during the first few strides will certainly help with making the transition to the pace of the NHL.
As for his decision-making, being able to retool his shot selection can make him more of a threat in the offensive zone. He’s quick at getting a shot off, but he can slow it down more in order read the ice better and possibly find a better option before taking a shot.
His knee injury could also be a concern for teams, but it hasn’t affected his draft stock and he has played in games after his surgery.
How much potential does Davis Jiricek have?
David Jiricek has the potential to be a solid top-4 or even top-2 defenseman on an NHL team. If drafted by the Flyers, Jiricek would be an exciting prospect for the future of the Philadelphia blue line. Time will tell.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre