Welcome to Hockey Wilderness’ coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft. We will not act like experts, nor will we act like we have watched hours of footage of these players. So instead, we have opted to rely on the opinion of people who have, and have compiled plenty of information from different publications regarding these prospects. Note: This is not a ranking, but just going down a list of interesting draft-eligible dudes without any order in mind.
Sometimes, you just don’t need any flash or sexiness when it comes to your top draft picks. You just want to nab a dude in the top-10 that will provide you with a decade of solid contributions and stay that way. They might blossom into more and suddenly be a franchise cornerstone, or they can just be a very stable presence and one of the first skaters that you think of when conjuring up a fantasy lineup.
David Jiříček, the long and lanky defenseman from Czechia, is exactly that. He might not be the ultimate offensive contributor and transitional blueliner like Simon Nemec can be, or a gutsy, dazzling forward like Matthew Savoie, but Jiricek is just so projectable and someone that can eat up minutes and be part of a very good team.
What Scouts Are Saying
He has some extremely desirable attributes, marked by one of — if not the — hardest point shots in the draft (it’s a bomb, and he does a really good job keeping it on target and a few feet off the ice), a strong, athletic 6-foot-3 frame, and a more commanding on-ice presence than Nemec’s. He’s a strong and sturdy defender who plays a staunch man-to-man style, moves his feet well for his size, and thrives in transition with his ability to both close out on gaps with his length through neutral ice and lead a ton of rushes as a puck transporter. Offensively, he’s also a capable handler and distributor whose point shot is complemented by an aggressive approach. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
David Jiříček #45 is back in form and I think he's even better than before despite the long break. These are just a few clips from yesterday's game against Finland. His involvement in the offensive zone is getting way more aggressive...he's a huge offensive weapon. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/v2lEXtUkHj— Marek Novotny (@MarekNovotny96) April 30, 2022
He is a talented and creative offensive presence from the back end who possesses good size and mobility, allowing him to push the issue in the offensive zone. He isn’t afraid to attempt high-risk passes and he identifies his options in an efficient manner in order to find success on those plays. Jiricek’s shot has also grown into a decent weapon and his one-timer can beat goaltenders from the point.
A big-bodied defender, Jiricek doesn’t shy away from physical play either and will step up to finish a big hit in the neutral zone when he sees an opportunity. He will have to continue to refine his decision-making process in terms of when to step up and be aggressive but his overall defensive game has shown improvement throughout the year. He has continued to show progress in the way that he establishes body position to box out in front of the net and engage in battles along the wall, and that should help him make the adjustment to the next level.
Jiricek may not be quite as much of a sure thing as Simon Nemec but his potential could be just as high and he shouldn’t have to wait around long to hear his name called on draft day. — Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
Jiříček gives off a more polished impression than what is usually the norm for an 18-year-old defenceman playing in a pro league. Sure, the Czech league has tumbled in quality since the turn of the century, but Jiříček demonstrates an unusual mix of skating, size, and poise for such a young man. ... He may not be flashy or spectacular in the offensive zone, but you need guys on your team who can log 20-plus minutes per night for 75 to 100 games per season, and Jiříček could provide you with exactly that. Much like Alexander Romanov, he relies on his acceleration and physicality to track down opposing forwards and pin them to the boards. He can transport the puck up the ice and start attacks from the back, just don’t rely on him to be your power-play quarterback. — Anton Rasegard, Eyes on the Prize
Would They Fit In With The Wild?
Yes. The right side of the Minnesota Wild’s blue line is fairly unstable after Jared Spurgeon — especially with Matt Dumba’s looming contract expiry — and somehow getting Jiricek would be able to calm some nerves. And, as a bonus, he does seem to just give some size that the top defensemen on this team do not possess.
Can The Wild Get Them?
We write the same exact thing in this section for every other top prospect in this draft class, but if the Wild somehow trade Kevin Fiala — as it seems more and more likely every single day — for a top-10 pick, then selecting Jiříček is a real option. If they don’t do that, sitting at 24th overall is way too far away to nab the defenseman.
A Minnesota Relation
Maybe the wound is too fresh, but considering it’s an all-situations, all-zones, sizeable type of defenseman, maybe the comparison can be if Ryan Suter grew a few inches? He was just a very stable force on the top pair for so damn long. Nothing flashy, not winning any individual awards or getting Norris hype; but just being there and good.