Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had almost 100 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. Stay tuned as we enter the home stretch with the top 10 players. Now, 5th-ranked, David Jiricek.
#5 David Jiricek
5th out of 40 eligible players
Writer Rank: 6
Reader Rank: 5
Highest placement: 1 (1 votes)
Most common placement: 4 (23 votes)
2021 Rank: N/A
Birthdate: November 28, 2003
Birthplace: Klatovy, Czechia
Weight: 209 lbs
Acquired: Drafted 6th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft
At just 18 years of age, Jiricek played in his second professional season in his native Czechia. Playing big minutes with solid production — not to mention his prototypical size — launched the young defenseman up draft boards. He not only had success in the Czech league, but during International play as well.
Jiricek suited up for his home country numerous times this year. He was playing for Czechia in the World Juniors (part one) in December when he suffered a knee injury that would end up sidelining him for a few months. The good news is that while it pretty much ended his regular season with HC Plzeň, he was able to return in time to participate in the IIHF World Championship. It was great experience for him to measure up against some of the best International Competition, including NHL players for the first time. He didn’t look out of place competing against men, but where Jiricek really shined was during part two of the World Juniors.
Jiricek served as an alternate captain for his club, and saw a lot of action on the backend. He was named player of the game in his matchup against Slovakia. He led his team to an upset of the heavily favored U.S. team, and almost helped his team make an incredible comeback to beat Canada and advance to the gold medal game.
David Jiricek did a little bit of everything this past year.
It’s tough to say what the upcoming season will look like for David Jiricek. While he will use the next few years to continue filling out his frame, his body is already NHL-ready. The same can be said for his hockey-IQ, skating and point shot, so it is very tantalizing to pencil him right into the top-six somewhere. It’s almost an afterthought to remember he is only 18 years old. There is little doubt Jiricek can still benefit from another year in the Czech league or the AHL.
The 2019 sixth overall pick, Moritz Seider, played in the AHL for Grand Rapids the year after he was drafted. He then played in the SHL during the COVID-shortened 20-21 season, only making his NHL debut this year, playing all 82 games en route to a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. I think one year of development either in Europe or the AHL would go a long way for Jiricek.
Ideally, I would (selfishly) like Jiricek to start out in Cleveland to acclimate to the North American game, and get a taste of the NHL when warranted. Whatever path he takes to the NHL, I know we’ll be seeing him with the big club sooner rather than later.