Though it may have gone through a fallow period for past little while, Czech hockey appears to have made a serious resurgence of late, producing a number of top-end prospects. We’ve already profiled three in this series in Jakub Zboril, Pavel Zacha, and Filip Chlapik, and today we’ll highlight our highest-rated Czech player in Michael Spacek.
Join us on the other side of the jump as we look at a very good and under-the-radar prospect for this upcoming draft.
- Age: 17.44 years old at the start of the season. Born April 9, 1997.
- Birthplace: Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic
- Position: C/RW
- Frame: 5’11”, 187 lbs
- Draft Year Team: HC Dynamo Pardubice
- Accomplishments: 2014 World U18 Championships Silver Medal, 2015 World U18 Championships Top-3 Player on Team
|PCS% 2014||PCS Pts/82 2014||PCS% 2015||PCS Pts/82 2015|
|PCS Most NHL GP||PCS Highest Pts/GP|
|Jari Kurri||Jari Kurri|
|Patrik Elias||Thomas Steen|
|Thomas Steen||Patrik Elias|
|5 (EU)||75||56||N/A||36||N/A||Hon. Mention||63|
He’s a flashy and exciting offensive player who regularly shows the ability to make high-difficulty plays. Spacek sees the ice at a very high level, which makes him dangerous when he sets up with space, as he frequently finds his linemates for scoring chances.He’s an agile skater who can be quite elusive and make defenders miss. He’s not a blazer in terms of his top gear, but he’s above-average there. Spacek plays the game with energy and good work ethic, but overall, his physical game is less than impressive, and he doesn’t look all that imposing when he engages in puck battles. His defensive positioning could use work, with his frame not helping him in that regard.
He’s a hard worker with a good skill set, makes good decisions, is a smart passer and playmaker. He’s quick and mobile, an all-around player with a nose for the net. He is a bit smallish and needs more physical strength.
Spacek is a smart playmaker who can take full advantage of others’ skills and knows how to get the puck to those players who can finish. He makes plays on the move and through sticks and skates. He’s not deterred in any way and while he doesn’t catch your eye with physical flash, he captures your attention with his mental effort and purpose.
Despite a very strong season in the Czech Republic’s top men’s league, the dynamic and feisty Michael Spacek appears to be flying under the radar somewhat. It’s not entirely clear why this is, since most reports out there are fairly positive, citing concerns that should have been put to bed by Tyler Johnson being one of the very best players on a Stanley Cup finalist.
Spacek is a hard worker that isn’t afraid to go to the front of the net to look for offensive opportunities. He has strong puck skills and is also an adept playmaker, using his plus-level vision to find and set up teammates for good opportunities. His ability to generate offense out of nothing is very good, and he works hard at both ends of the ice.
The largest knocks on Spacek stem from him being small and getting knocked around a bit in physical battles, but one also has to take in to account that he’s just 17 and has 5 or 6 more years of physical maturation left to round out this aspect of his game. If the effort and the willingness is there to engage with larger players, and it definitely sounds like it is, then “he’s not strong enough right now” shouldn’t really be something to get overly concerned about.
In terms of stature, 5’10 is far from big, but well within “can excel in the NHL” height range. Pure hockey playing ability is always the most important thing in evaluating players, and while a few more inches and a couple extra pounds would help Spacek be a different player, there’s no reason to think it would make him a better one.
At the end of the day, all the offensive tools are there to have a very effective middle to top-6 forward at the NHL level. Spacek is shifty in traffic and has the requisite skill to make tough plays with the puck, and is already producing at an impressive level in the Czech pro league. Aside from the guys listed in the stats section above, PCS also compares Spacek to Sami Kapanen, David Krejci, Martin Havlat, Frans Nielsen, Jiri Tlusty, Tomas Fleischmann, and Ondrej Palat, so the precedent is absolutely there for guys like Spacek to become very good complimentary NHL players. A 34% success rate also rates Spacek among the top draft eligibles in that regard too.
Spacek may end up falling as far as the 3rd round on draft day, but he would be a solid bet to make any time after 20th or so. The further he falls, the larger a bargain he could be.