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David Jiricek: 2022 NHL Prospect Profile; The Other Two-Way Defenseman with Top Pair Potential

David Jiricek is one of the top players in the 2022 draft, and one of the 2 highest ranked defensemen along with Simon Nemec. Learn what makes him rated so highly in today’s prospect profile.

Czechia v Canada: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

David Jiricek is one of the top players in the 2022 NHL draft. While behind Nemec on most rankings, Jiricek still has plenty of promise, and is the more defensive of the two players. This post will take a look at who David Jiricek is and what makes him a top prospect.

Who is David Jiricek?

David Jiricek is from Klatovy, Czechia, and he was born on November 28, 2003. He stands at 6’3”, weighing 190 lbs. He is an always sought-after right shot defenseman. He is a two-way player, very good defensively for his age without sacrificing much on the offensive side.

Here are his stats at this point in his career:

As the stats show, he produces points at a decent clip, but nothing off the charts. He is mostly known for his defense, although as you can see with the points totals, he’s no slouch offensively either. He had the most points of all defensemen on the Czech U20 team.

Other than 1 playoff game for SHC Klatovy, he has played solely for HC Plzen at various levels. He played in the top tier Czech league as early as his 15-16 season in 19-20, with 4 games that year. He is under contract with Plzen for one more year.

Where is David Jiricek Ranked?

  • #5 by Consolidated Ranking
  • #2 by EliteProspects
  • #11 by FCHockey
  • #7 by Bob McKenzie
  • #5 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • #6 by Craig Button
  • #4 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
  • #5 by Sportsnet
  • #6 by ISS Hockey
  • #4 by Recruit Scouting
  • #6 by DobberProspects
  • #7 by Draft Prospects Hockey
  • #3 by Smaht Scouting
  • #7 by The Puck Authority

Jiricek is ranked between #2 and #7, which can be kind of a gray area, such as the 2020 NHL draft when nobody knew what order picks 4 through 10 would be in. Clearly Jiricek is a top 10 pick, but where in the top 10 where you get different opinions from different people. With the #2 pick, the Devils probably only want to take a consensus top 3 player if there is a big 3, and this year that appears to be Wright, followed by Slafkovsky and Cooley, which would leave Jiricek out.

What Others say about David Jiricek

The first report I’ll talk about today is once again from Ben Kerr, who I’m sure all of you know by now.

Kerr breaks down prospects’ games into different parts. First up is Jiricek’s skating, which is considering one of his strong suits.

He shows a long stride which helps him to generate good speed and acceleration in both directions. His cross-overs and pivots are strong. Coupled with good edgework and agility, he has the ability to move laterally. This helps him to defend against the rush. It also helps him to walk the line in the offensive end, opening up passing and shooting lanes. Jiricek’s pivots allow him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He also shows good balance and the ability to fight through checks and win battles along the boards.

He doesn’t say Jiricek’s skating is anything special, but is good and helps him play his best game.

About his offensive game, Kerr says:

He marries his strong skating with good stickhandling ability. This allows him to carry the puck through the neutral zone and generate effective zone entries. He also has the poise to control the puck at the point and make plays in the offensive zone. Jiricek shows good vision and passing ability. He can start the transition game with a good first pass, hit a teammate for a long breakaway pass if they get behind the defence, as well as control the puck and make plays in the offensive end. His decision-making is good and Jiricek often makes a smart play.

Jiricek can also be a weapon from the point. He has an excellent slap shot and one-timer. He generates a lot of power on his shots. One minor quibble is that he should work to keep his shot low and on the net, allowing his teammates to set up screens as well as get deflections and rebounds. Jiricek also has a powerful wrist shot. However, his release can use some work. He has a really big wind-up which allows goalies to anticipate the shot and correctly position themselves. Jiricek loves to join the rush and pinch in from the blueline in an attempt to create more offensive chances.

Kerr says that Jiricek is a smart player, which is always something you want to see. He also says he is effective at zone entries, another good trait. In addition, he has a good, hard shot from the point, although reading he has a big windup brings back bad memories of P.K. Subban being too easy to read.

Finally, we get to the part of Jiricek’s game considered the strongest, defense.

His strong skating, quickness, and good lateral movement allow him to maintain good gap control. He is tough to beat off the rush and forces attackers to the outside. When the gets the opportunity, he is able to explode into a hit if a defender tries to sneak by him. However, he also shows good discipline as he does not get himself caught out of position looking for those big hits. Jiricek shows strong positioning. He is willing to put his body on the line to block shots. He is also good at using his active stick to cut down passing lanes.

Jiricek seems like everything you could want from a top-pair defensemen. Right shot, can blast it, good skater and transition player, high hockey IQ, and is very good defensively already even at a young age with his gap control, skating, and active stick.

Now it’s fancy stats time. Let’s look at what the models have to say about Jiricek. First up is HockeyProspecting.

This model isn’t too high on Jiricek, giving him just a 56% chance of making the NHL and a 13% chance of being a star. He does get a Charlie McAvoy comp, though. Still, this model says Jiricek isn’t someone you want to take until towards the end of the 1st round, not in the top 5.

TopDownHockey has a very different, much more favorable view of Jiricek.

This projection is wildly different, giving Jiricek a 100% chance of being an NHL player and a whopping 88% chance of being a star, #1 and #2 in the draft.

A Little Video

As he is one of the top of this year’s crop, there is plenty of footage of Jiricek. EliteProspects has this video on him:

I also found a video of his interesting plays in 3 games:

Here’s even more video, just for good measure:

An Opinion of Sorts

After doing this profile, I must say I really like Jiricek. However, I do have 2 concerns. One is his ceiling - 2 of his closest comps were McAvoy and Hanifin. Hanifin is a solid player, but you want a real star with the #2 pick, not just a pretty good player. If he’s McAvoy, or almost as good, I’d love to take Jiricek at #2. But if he’s Hanifin, I’d rather go for Nemec or one of the top 3 forwards and try to get a star.

My other concern is his injury. In his draft year, Jiricek was out for a bit with a knee injury that required surgery. I couldn’t find much information on what the injury was, but one site said it was a ligament issue. Even if he’s really good, it means nothing if he’s injured. The potential upside makes Jiricek worth a top pick, but at #2 you probably prefer going with a forward and avoiding worrying about the injury or if you took the right one of Jiricek/Nemec.

Based on the fact that most people seem to have Cooley and Slafkovsky before any dmen, it seems like Jiricek is unlikely to be a top 3 pick. However, I wouldn’t be mad if the Devils picked him, as he certainly has a lot of potential, and the TopDownHockey model is VERY high on him. HockeyProspecting has it the other way around, being crazy high on Nemec and down on Jiricek, which is interesting. I think the Devils end up taking Slafkovsky, and I would take Cooley, but Jiricek looks like a very good prospect, and I would still be happy with a Jiricek pick. Tom Fitzgerald really can’t lose here unless he goes off the board.

Your Take

What do you think about David Jiricek? What are your thoughts on taking a defenseman? Which of the right-shot Czechoslovak defensemen do you like more, Nemec or Jiricek? Are you secretly hoping for Jiricek or are you a strong Slafkovsky or Cooley supporter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.