Jan Myšák was considered by many scouts to be a first-round prospect heading into this year’s draft. After being called up to his hometown club, HC Litvinov, and becoming a regular in the Extraliga throughout last fall, he gained further prominence by transferring over to the Ontario Hockey League to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs from the start of this calendar year.
Playing with and against his own age group on a team led by Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Arthur Kaliyev proved to be beneficial for Myšák, who was averaging over a point per game when the OHL was shut down the March 23.
While the OHL is still waiting to start the new season, Myšák has returned home to the Czech Republic to get some game flow going after the long break. So far, his most impressive feature this autumn has been earning a call-up to the Czech squad for the 2020 Karjala Cup tournament. During his first ever stint with the national team, he contributed with an assist and was given playing time both as a centreman and as a winger.
Make sure to keep an eye out for him during the World Junior Championship this winter. Being a returnee from last year, he is considered one of the pillars on an inexperienced Czech team.
I am definitely a bit biased on this one. How could I not be? I wrote the pre-draft article on this guy back in June and coincidentally was also assigned the article for ‘draft selection number three,’ which happened to be Myšák. I liked what I saw from him leading up to the draft and was surprised to see him fall to the middle of the second round. In fact, my friend and I were joking about how he, as a New York Rangers fan, did not want to see Myšák in a Habs jersey. If Myšák lives up to his potential, I’ll be the first one to gloat over this in the future.
I may have been the highest on our new Czech scoring prodigy, but there was no real division here. He was firmly established in the top 20 by all but three panellists. The voters of the EOTP community had him at 17, joining in the unison.
Ulitmately checking in at number 18, he is this year’s second-highest-ranked rookie.
History of #18
Myšák is a technically gifted player who thrives in the offensive zone. He separates himself from other prospects in this range of the ranking by being more of a finisher than a setup man. His quick release caused havoc once he came over to North America and was surrounded by a solid foundation of talented teammates and coaches.
As is the case for most players the Montreal Canadiens draft these days, Myšák is described as an intelligent player. He is a responsible back-checker and a smart forechecker who works well in both directions. Offensively, he knows how to find open ice and use it to his advantage, preferrably to release his sniping wrist shot. He is quick and produces well playing off the rush, something which clearly moulds well with Montreal’s current playing style.
Having been a centreman for the better part of his youth, Myšák brings position versatility to the lineup. It is also worth noting that, while he was one of the younger prospects in the draft this year, he has already assembled over 60 games of Extraliga experience.
Having been an unstoppable entity at the Junior level, Myšák is used to being the go-to guy, and he thrives when he gets to have a leading role on a team. He wants the puck in his possession and he wants to be a provider of scoring chances on every single shift.
Scouts and analysts are divided when it comes to Myšák’s skating talent, with reports varying from ‘average’ to ‘great.’ What is certain is that he already has enough pace in his stride to play pro-league hockey, since we’ve already seen him adapt to his native country’s top tier.
His skating will at the very least translate to NHL average, with the possibility of ending up better than that. If it remains on the lower part of the spectrum, the question is whether he will need to alternate his playing style when the surrounding players are overall faster and tougher than in his present habitat.
Myšák is less of a playmaker than many other Canadiens prospects. He is not a bad passer per se, but he doesn’t wow you with his creativity and crafty solutions. The lack of a pure playmaking instinct is also what sometimes limits his offensive production. Since he so badly wants to be the pulse of the offence, he has a tendency to overwork situations and go for advanced solutions to get his team to a scoring opportunity instead of settling for simple high-percentage passes to his linemates.
Though he didn’t exactly light it up in the Extraliga last year, I don’t think we should draw too many conclusions from that. Myšák turned 18 in June, meaning that he played all of his games with Litvinov last year as a 17-year-old. Since he was playing on a bottom-tier team, he wasn’t necessarily put in a position to feel comfortable enough to make youthful mistakes and ultimately thrive offensively.
As pedestrian as his numbers in Extraliga look, his performance after coming over to the OHL was considerably more impressive. As Patrik Bexell and I have talked about on the podcast at various points, it is natural for a European to need a transition period before settling into a new league on a new continent with a new language and foreign teammates. This should be said for a prospect like Myšák as well, even though he had already gained experience from the high tempo of a European men’s league before joining Hamilton back in January.
He took on the new challenge without missing a beat and was a crucial contributor for the Bulldogs during the remainder of the season. It should only get better when/if he gets a pre-season together with his teammates.
Since 2015, Czech forwards Pavel Zacha, Filip Chytil, Martin Necas, Filip Zadina and Martin Kaut have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. Myšák’s record in the Junior ranks and leading up to the draft are in every way comparable, and on several occasions superior, than those of his senior countrymen. The fact that he practically fell into the Canadiens’ lap at pick 48 is puzzling, but should not be held against a kid who so far has only demonstrated professionalism wherever he’s been.
Barring any setbacks, I expect him to continue his developmental trajectory onwards and upwards and eventually climb up the ladder to become an NHL roster player. The main question is whether he will do so as an impactful force or as a passenger. What is certain is that his journey on the T25U25 will be an interesting one to follow for the next several years.
You can listen to Anton Rasegård and Patrik Bexell discussing the last three players; Brett Stapley, Cam Hillis and Jan Myšák, in the latest episode of Habsent Minded: