Thanks to the 79 readers who submitted ballots in this year’s ranking of Columbus Blue Jackets players under the age of 25. We continue counting down the Top 5 of our rankings today.
#3 David Jiricek
3rd out of 45 eligible players
Writer Rank: 2nd
Reader Rank: 4th
Highest Placement: 1st (5 votes)
Most Common Placement: 2nd (28 votes)
2022 Rank: 5th
Birthdate: November 28, 2003
Birthplace: Klatovy, CZE
Weight: 209 lbs
Acquired: first round pick (6th overall) in 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
David Jiricek started the season with the Cleveland Monsters, spending much of his debut pro season with the AHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets. He was one of the last cuts from training camp, and he immediately impressed with the Monsters. During his time in the AHL, he posted a 6-32-38 stat line in 55 games. He played power play time with the Monsters while playing a top four role and looked every bit the part, finishing third in AHL rookie scoring among defensemen.
Jiricek was called up and made his NHL debut for the Blue Jackets, playing 4 games and earning no points for the big club – it was clear that while his ceiling is high, he was better served playing a huge role for the Monsters rather than a rotational role for an oft-injured NHL blue line. In addition, Jiricek played a huge role at World Juniors for Czechia, leading the team to the silver medal with his stellar play.
David Jiricek is expected to be part of a crowded competition for spots on the blue line – fellow defensemen who could feature include: Zach Werenski, Damon Severson, Ivan Provorov, Andrew Peeke, Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, Nick Blankenburg, and Tim Berni. With only perhaps eight spots available (and a minimum of five spoken for already), Jiricek will have to really impress to earn his roster spot.
That being said, David Jiricek will probably like those odds himself. He is more naturally talented than Bean, Blankenburg, Peeke, and Berni at a minimum. Jiricek is more reliable health-wise already than Bean and Boqvist, and has a higher pedigree than Blankenburg. If Jiricek plays up to his potential, he should earn a spot out of training camp. If he doesn’t, Jiricek will go back to Cleveland where he will earn top minutes to continue his development. Either way, Jiricek’s season this year should be setting the table for a massive 2024-25 season.