Since Ray Shero became the General Manager of the New Jersey Devils, the Devils have consistently taken a goaltender with every NHL Draft. His assistant GM then and now current GM of the team, Tom Fitzgerald, has continued the tradition. In 2020, it was Nico Daws. At 100th overall, the fourth pick of the fourth round, the Devils drafted goaltender Jakub Málek of VHK Vestin of the Czech second league.
Here are the basics from his Elite Prospects profile. Malek is an overage draft pick as he was born on April 11, 2002. He is fairly tall at 6’3” but likely a bit wiry at 159 pounds. He is a product of the Vsetin system as his entire career has been through Vsetin youth teams with some brief loans to HC Valasske Mezirici of the Czech third league. Malek made his first team debut with VHK Vsetin in 2020-21 with 14 appearances in the regular season and 7 playoff games. At a glance, he did well. He posted a 91.2% overall save percentage in the season and a 92.7% overall save percentage in the postseason. Malek did get one call up to the Czech U-20 team for his international debut. That apparently went poorly with an 86.2% overall save percentage in one game, but it was just that one game with the youth team.
As far as why else they took him: he is a goaltender. Four went in the third round that were intriguing like Benjamin Gaudreau and Tristan Lennox. The Devils may have felt that this was their time to pull the trigger on one despite a myriad of netminders still available. To be fair, Málek at least did well in his games with Vsetin. He certainly was not touted or considered to be expected to be selected in his draft year. The pick is inherently risky as it is a goaltender and it is one from the second league in Czechia with next to no international experience. I have no idea how good the Devils’ scouts are that look there or even if they did get an up-close look at him much less how they did it.
According to EP, Málek’s contract ends with Vsetin in a season, so he could come over to North America fairly soon. He could end up in Utica in two seasons and that may play a role as to why they took him. This part of the draft is very much about throwing darts and shooting your shot. However, I cannot help but think the Devils could have taken Malek later and took a swing on USNTDP left winger Dylan Duke or Chicago Steel right-handed defenseman Jack Bar or USNTDP defenseman Jake Martin or Red Savage or forward and potential meme Robert Orr or even defenseman Ethan Del Mastro (he went at 105th). I would have preferred those players as I think they have interesting potential. Still, Málek at least played and played well last season in some kind of pro league. It is not the very worst shot in the dark to take here. But if this was the Devils’ choice at goaltender, then I would have taken a better player here at 100 and see if he was available at 129th overall. Which he likely would be because he’s an overage goaltender from the Czech second league with only one international appearance to his name.
I welcome Jakub Málek to the Devils organization. I wish him the best as he prepares for more appearances with what could be his last season with VHK Vsetin in 2021-22.
Now that you know what I think about the player, I want to know what you think of the selection. What do you like about Jakub Málek? What are your concerns? What do you expect from Málek going forward? Please leave your thoughts about the player in the comments and please also vote in the poll as part of community reaction I will put together tomorrow. Thank you for reading.
The Devils drafted Jakub Málek at 100th Overall. What do you think of the pick?
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I love it!
I like the pick.
I don’t know / I’m in the middle.
I don’t like the pick.
I hate it!