Lukas Jasek hasn’t had the most graceful start to his professional hockey career. From 2012 — at the age of just 15 — to 2017, he was never really given a chance to stabilize and find a steady, reliable place to play.
Tossed between different competitive levels in the Czech Republic and one year in Sweden, Jasek’s highest number of games in one place during a season was 38, back in 2012 with his hometown club HC Ocelari Trinec.
This is what made him such an intriguing prospect when Jasek finally made the jump over to North America in the spring of 2018. Even the most plugged-in Canucks fans had never fully gotten a picture of his potential or seen him get steady production with familiar teammates.
Until last season, Jasek never had the opportunity to spend a full season with one team. During his year as a part of the Utica Comets, Jasek was able to score a total of 18 points through his first 33 games in North American professional hockey – fairly impressive for a 21-year-old rookie in an unfamiliar environment.
He finished off the year with 11 more points in 30 games. Not exactly a spectacular finish, but for a young talent like Jasek, it was more than enough to hint at potential over a larger, and more in-depth, sample size than scouts had been treated to since his selection.
On a roster with no top-tier sure-fire NHL talent, Jasek was able to provide fans keeping an eye on the farm something to get excited about and his development could turn out to be one of the better stories coming out of late-round picks by the Canucks in recent years.
He was considered a highly-touted “value pick” at the time of his selection, but because of some instability throughout the rest of his teenage years, we’re only just seeing now what type of player he can become if he reaches his potential.
By The Numbers
In his first full season for Utica, after putting up seven points in six games in a short late-season stint, the majority of Jasek’s production came at even-strength. Only six of his 29 points came on the power play, so he was unable to really get those jaw-dropping raw numbers that would boost his perceived value as a prospect.
Even at even-strength, Jasek was unlucky when it came to scoring goals. His 8.8 shooting percentage was the 27th-lowest among the 212 forwards in the AHL with at least 100 shots on goal. If he had been able to just raise that number to the league average, he would have at least hit double digits in goals total, making his boxcar stats look more impressive.
It could be just sheer misfortune, but Jasek never really had a comfortable landing spot in terms of teammates and that could have been a mitigating factor.
Looking at his goals for percentage with and without his most common linemates, Jasek was generally on the ice for more goals away from certain teammates than others. But no matter what, by himself, he always hovered around the 50% mark, which indicates he was a reasonably effective player.
Only Jesse Graham and Brendan Gaunce posted a GF% below 50% with Jasek.
Other than on-ice goals for, Jasek had a wide array of teammates that contributed to his points as well.
Jasek wasn’t a huge point producer for the Comets, but overall he was able to keep up steady point production even with a rotating cast of linemates.
If he is able to get more stability with some teammates — perhaps ones with a higher amount of skill — he might be able to get those point totals up and join the upper echelon of Canucks prospects. At the very least, he has the tools to do so.
Even though Jasek only scored nine goals last season, he was still able to showcase his vision on the ice and create high-danger scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
In this one particular goal last season against the Laval Rocket, he demonstrated exactly that for one of his two goals on the man advantage. He set up where he was supposed to and was able to beat both the goaltender and defender on the one-timer easily.
Although Jasek has been an infrequent goal-scorer in North America, he did show flashes of accurate shooting last year.
.@LukasJasek goes five-hole for his ninth of the year!#WBSvsUTI pic.twitter.com/PkvyYbllik
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 13, 2019
For instance, in this goal against the Wilkes-Barre Penguins, Jasek was able to shoot from the same area of the ice — again on the powerplay — and deliver it straight past the opposing goaltender and into the net.
The asset Jasek was able to show off more frequently over his first full-length season with the Comets was his playmaking ability.
Here, Jasek takes a pass in the neutral zone, while in stride, and is able to successfully enter the offensive zone with possession. From there, he quickly spots the rushing forward and makes a cross-ice pass. It does take some impressive stickhandling to put the puck in the back of the net, but Jasek was able to spot an open teammate and give him the puck quickly and efficiently to be able to grab an assist.
All in all, he’s been able to flash some of his skill on Comets goals from this past season. It’s not exactly a perfect snapshot of who he is as a player, but generally speaking, he has a shot capable of being a weapon on the powerplay and is able to transition the puck.
He has still yet to put it all together and his development timeline will be coming to a close within the next couple of years, but if the environment is right, Jasek might be able to see a bump in his production this coming season and rise slightly up the ranks of Canucks prospects.
Jasek doesn’t have the highest potential, but if it all works out, he can become a serviceable farm hand or an injury call-up if needed for the Canucks in the near future.
At this age, it’s generally “do or die” time for most prospects. If they sharpen their skills and put up the kind of point totals that get them noticed, then that’s great — but there is always the risk of a fall into obscurity in the world of NHL prospects.
For now, Jasek simply need to firmly establish himself in Utica’s top 9 and make himself a target for the front office to keep in mind if the need for a forward arises.