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2020 Canucks Top 25 under 25: #16 Lukas Jasek

Canucks’ 2015 6th round pick makes successful transition from right winger to two-way centerman

Utica Comets v Laval Rocket
#9 Lukas Jasek in game action for the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Welcome to the Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings, the series that makes you wish you were under 25 again. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1996. Five staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, CanucksAbbyFan2, Trevor Connors, Markus Meyer) and one former staff writer (Daniel Gee, Elite Prospects) cast votes for the project.

Lukas Jasek’s hockey career came full circle this summer due to the worldwide pandemic. The native of Trinec, Czech Republic started playing for his hometown HC Ocelari Trinec club on their U16 team when he was just 13 years old. He put up 14 points in 25 games that season. The following season as a 14-year-old he exploded for 72 points in 35 games averaging almost a goal per game. He played so well that he was promoted to their U18 team before the season ended and added another 6 points in 9 games on that squad.

The upward trajectory continued for him as a 15-year-old player. He split time between Trinec’s U16, U18 and U20 club teams and also played on the Czech Republic’s national U16 and U17 teams in international tournaments. Cumulatively, he scored 46 goals and added 47 assists for a total of 93 points in 70 games. He also tallied another 9 points in 9 games during his U18 club’s playoffs.

As a 16-year-old, he decided to move to Sweden to play against higher quality competition. He still managed to produce 16 points playing 40 games in Sweden’s J18 and J20 leagues. Around this time, the Czech Extraliga (the country’s top professional hockey league) decided to institute new roster regulations to encourage their best young players to play at home instead of move to foreign countries to play like Jasek had done. One of the changes was guaranteed roster spots on pro Extraliga clubs for players based upon their birth dates.

The promise of an assured roster spot on his hometown team in the Czech Republic’s best adult men’s league lured Jasek back to play in his birth nation. It was a decision that Jasek soon likely came to regret. During the next three season’s he was in Trinec’s line-up for only 68 games and posted a measly 5 points in those games. While he had been pledged a roster spot it did not mean he had a sure-fire spot in the line-up. Nor did it mean that when he dressed that he would get ice time. Even when he played, his blades only met the ice surface for an average of about seven to nine minutes per game. His real value to the Trinec top team was his youthful birthdate which allowed them to meet the Extraliga’s new roster regulations.

At age 20, Jasek had lost a lot of valuable development time nailed to Trinec’s Extraliga bench or sitting in a press box. During those three seasons he was occasionally sent down to a U20 club or a lesser pro league to get some ice time but against inferior competition for the most part. He also played for the Czech Republic’s U20 national team.

As a free agent, he decided to sign with a new team in the Extraliga instead of trying his luck in North America. The head coach of his new team, Filip Pesan, played him in 48 regular season games, where he put up 8 goals and 10 assists for a total of 18 points with Bili Tygri Liberec. Once the team’s playoffs were over, he decided to bet on himself and he signed an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATC) with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL). He played for them toward the end of their 2017/18 regular season.

He took advantage of the opportunity and impressed his potential future NHL bosses. He tallied 8 points in 7 games, three of which were mesh-benders including this overime winner.

A few days after he scored this goal, the Canucks decided to offer him an Entry Level Contract (ELC). He signed on the dotted line.

The young Czech developed his game over his next two seasons with Utica. He generated 56 points during 119 AHL games during that time period and has been a plus 13 player on the ice. He also has continued to score when it counts.

I have watched most of Jasek’s games in Utica the past two seasons. In his first full season, he established an identity for himself as a puck hound on the right-wing, He also was very good at protecting the puck along the boards and won more than his share of puck battles. He was effective both offensively and defensively moving up and down the Comets’ line-up. He triggered memories for me and others of the now-retired peak Jannik Hansen during his time as a Canuck.

In his second season, the Comets had run out of centerman due to injuries and other factors. Jasek was pegged to give the center position a try and he took to it like a fish does to water. The former right-winger has since morphed into a center who can also play right wing.

He has also established himself as an excellent penalty killer who is also effective playing on a powerplay unit.

With Covid-19 putting the North American hockey world in a state of flux this summer, the Vancouver Canucks arranged a loan for Jasek to again play for his hometown team of Ocelari Trinec in the Extraliga. This time though he was no doubt guaranteed ice time. He has averaged about 15 to 16 minutes per game for his old club. He started out playing on right-wing but soon established himself as their third-line center. He has received both time on their powerplay and on their penalty kill in addition to regular five-on-five minutes. He also weathered a nearly seven-week shutdown of the in-progress Extraliga regular season from late September to early November due to a coronavirus surge in the Czech Republic.

He has produced 3 goals and 11 assists for Ocelari Trinec during 23 tournament and regular season games.

His mesh-benders include this nice goal where he loses his balance, stays with the puck and fires it home in the top left corner of the net.

Also, this one where he scores off of a rebound.

He is also winning more than 50% of his face-offs in the Extraliga. Here he wins a clean face-off that leads to a goal for his team and an assist for his statistics.

On the powerplay he is more of a distributor than a shooter. Here he makes a pinpoint pass to his teammate’s stick for the Trinec extra man tally.

His stellar play in the Czech Extraliga this season got the attention of his former Liberec coach Pesan. The man who gave him a chance to play and get his hockey career back on the rails now wanted him to play on the Czech Mens National Team for him at the Channel One Cup tournament in Russia. He would be up against the best available European professional hockey players from the host country and also from Sweden and Finland.

He fared very well in the tournament. He scored this nice deflection goal in his first game of the meet-up.

He added this apple for two points in the game.

He was named the Czech Republic player of the game in his first game. He finished the tournament with three points in three games.

What’s Next for Jasek?

There has been some talk on Twitter that NHL teams that have players on loan to European hockey clubs may leave them there to continue playing regularly overseas. This might be the case with a player like Lukas Jasek. He is very unlikely to make the Canucks’ NHL opening roster. He is also probably a long shot to be named to their taxi squad. Jasek though appeared to be expecting an airline ticket to Vancouver from Canucks’ management.

As of this writing, there has been no reporting in the Vancouver local press of his arrival. That said, perhaps he is in Vancouver already doing his 14-day quarantine. We should know soon.

If the American Hockey League (AHL) starts up on February 5th, 2021 as currently planned, he will certainly return in January from the Czech Republic to attend Utica’s AHL training camp in game shape.

Whether Jasek comes back to North America now or next month, he certainly has played himself into the Vancouver Canucks bottom-six forward discussion moving forward.