Jan Myšák has a lot of experience for a player who turned 20 just a couple of months ago. Entering the 2022-23-season, he will already have played 68 Extraliga games, 22 games in the AHL, and three (-and-a-half) World Junior Championships, where he’s also been the captain and natural leader for the last few years. Add on being a point-per-game player in his 100 games of OHL action and sprinkle on an All-Star nod for the 2022 summer edition of the WJC. During that tournament, he carried his Team Czechia to the semifinals. After finding a formidable partnership with 2022 first-rounder Jiří Kulich, he ended the tournament with eight points in seven games played.
In short, it’s been an eventful career already for jeune Jan. Even more eventful when you factor in the pandemic which effectively ruined more than a season of his time with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Naturally, those who really know their hockey, like our Managing Editor, our Deputy Managing Editor, and myself, ranked Myšák slightly higher than the rest of the staff. Overall though, it was an even-steven when it came to the voting, with nothing standing out in any direction.
In fact, if we disregard the very top players, Myšák is the player on the list with the smallest discrepancy in voting, ranging just six spots from 17 to 23. He shares that title, somewhat surprisingly, with 44th-ranked newcomer Petteri Nurmi.
Top 25 Under 25 History
Our Czech chess piece loses seven spots compared to the previous year, which saw him slot in at number 12. His current ranking of 19 is one place lower than in 2020, when he made his Top 25 Under 25 debut.
Interestingly, Myšák still hasn’t been ranked in the top 10 by a single panellist during his three years of eligibility. His best ranking was last year, when Nathan, Patrik, and Jared all had him as their number 11 overall.
History of #19
Myšák is a smart hockey player who can adapt his playing style to suit the team that is assembled around him. He may no longer be seen as a potential high-scoring offensive dynamo, but he has spent the last two years rounding out his game to become a more complete player, ultimately adapting to be ready to take that next step.
If someone wanted to be a Negative Nancy, one would say that Myšák’s game lacks a clear, visible asset which he can immediately bank on to make it in the North American professional leagues. He doesn’t possess a Cole Caufield shot, nor the physicality of an Arber Xhekaj, the playmaking ability of à Sean Farrell, or the slyness of a Joshua Roy. Instead, he is the archetype of an all-around solid and polished prospect in the Habs system.
His skating is up to par without being a standout quality, and his playmaking is good enough for him to potentially complement a scoring line. He is a well-developed forechecker and is equipped with a quick shot which certainly will fool more than one pro-level goaltender.
But what impresses me most about Myšák are his mental intangibles. He has a leadership persona, noted by his election as captain of his country during two consecutive WJCs, and he’s a fierce competitor who leads his teammates by sheer professionalism. He projects best as a middle-six workhorse; Montreal’s very own Czech cheval, if you will.
The weakness goes hand-in-hand with the strengths here. When the Montreal Canadiens drafted Myšák with the 48th selection back in 2020, many, myself included, saw it as a steal. Montreal had just received a player coming off a 15-goal, 25-point maiden voyage in the OHL in the middle of the second round. Several draft outlets had him pegged to be a top-30 selection, and there seemed to be no real reason behind his sudden drop.
If he could have such an instant impact on the Bulldogs as a 17-year-old, then imagine what he should be able to do once he got fully acclimated. But here’s the thing: Myšák never took more strides toward becoming that bona fide top-six forward he looked like in his draft year. His offensive production has somewhat stagnated and he now projects as more of a future third-liner if he were to reach the NHL.
It’s still not bad, especially considering his late birthday and where he was selected, but there is still a feeling that he could be even more impactful if he developed some sort of X-factor in his offensive game.
As someone who has ended up moving around a lot in my life, I always have extra admiration for the teenagers who make a conscious decision to try their luck in a different part of the world, whether that means going from North America to Europe or the other way around. In my opinion, it demonstrates determination and a willingness to sacrifice comfort and stability to learn and improve from a new environment where you basically need to start over from scratch. In his 2021 interview with former Eyes On The Prize managing editor Marc Dumont, he talked about this decision and the reasons behind it:
“They understood. It was my big decision. I’m really happy with it. I spent 17 years there [in Europe]. I just realized that it was important to leave my comfort zone, try something new and move closer to my dream, which is to play in the NHL. I just wanted to play in Canada, in North America, and I’m really happy that I made this decision.”
The way this Czech checker took on his first few months in Hamilton, both on and off the ice, sure tells you something about an inner drive as well as a level of adaptability which could prove very useful in the coming years.
There are many players who have one or a few tantalizing qualities, but who are then dragged down by a complete lack of other important aspects of the game. Alexander Gordin, as an example, has an NHL calibre shot, but doesn’t have the skating ability to take full advantage of it.
Myšák may lack the sheer wow factor, but with him already playing a high-calibre brand of hockey overall, the main question becomes whether he can keep on playing the way he currently does as the competition around him increases. Considering what he showed during his brief stint in Laval in 2020-21, I doubt that he will look out of place.
After starting his career off in the middle of the ice, most who are in-the-know around the hockey community now seem fairly aligned with Myšák eventually ending up as a permanent winger. If Montreal plays their cards well and nurtures him in a similar manner to Jake Evans, Jesse Ylönen, and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, I have little doubt that he can improve into a very useful asset for the franchise a few years down the road.