Welcome to the 2021 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1997. Seven staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two outside writers (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) cast votes for the project.
After profiling our biggest riser in the 2021 Canucks Top 25 Under 25 rankings, Arturs Silovs, we get to the biggest faller in Lukas Jasek.
The 24-year-old Czech forward fell three spots in our rankings. He was also one of only three players within the Top 25 to trend downwards.
It’s a rare occurrence on a list like this where usually, players either rise up the list, age out of the rankings, or move on from the organization.
In Jasek’s case, what makes his fall down the rankings even more surprising is the fact that he arguably just put together his best professional season of hockey. Although AHL competition was watered down in 2020-21, Jasek solidified his spot on the team as a dependable, two-way centre with some offence to his game. He was one of the Comets’ only forwards to be relied upon for time on both the power play and special teams. Jasek also tied for the team lead in points with forward Sam Anas.
Cody Severtson of AHL Nucks Harvest did a breakdown on Jasek’s ‘20-21 season, but this passage from his article sums up Jasek’s “quiet” time with the organization.
“Since signing his ELC to come stateside, Jasek has been one of the Canucks most unappreciated and undervalued prospects in the system.
“Much was made of Dahlen, Palmu, Juolevi, Gadjovich, and Lind’s struggles during their rookie campaigns. Yet, zero noise was made of Jasek casually dropping twenty-nine points in his rookie season.
“Through his years as a Canucks property, Jasek has displayed all of the tools that the Canucks covet: offence, IQ, defensive awareness, passing, “willingness to battle in the hard areas,” and skating.”
Clearly, despite Jasek’s muted improvement in the AHL, the Canucks didn’t value his performance enough to call him up to the NHL. That didn’t sit well with Jasek, who voiced his frustration recently through a Finnish publication.
Lukas Jasek signed in Europe because he didn't get a call up to the NHL once the #Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs.— CanucksAbbyFan2 (@Fan2Abby) August 27, 2021
He also cited the travel time from Utica to Vancouver as a negative.
His goal is still to play in the NHL.
Vasncouver has retained his NHL RFA rights. https://t.co/HfKQ35m4Mo pic.twitter.com/jTRmUkUbaL
According to the translation, Jasek said “When it was confirmed the Canucks would be left out of the playoffs, other Comets dudes were called from Vancouver. I wondered why I wasn’t called. I was disappointed and sad when I didn’t get a chance upstairs. I had been in the organization for three years and done everything the way they wanted.”
Okay, the translation is a little choppy, but you get the gist.
Among our voters, six of eight people who cast a ballot had Jasek higher than 19th. However, the two prospect gurus among our group, CanucksAbbyFan2 and Daniel Gee, has Jasek below 30th.
Their reasoning is clear. As a 24-year-old without an NHL game on his resume, Jasek’s odds of playing in the big leagues are bleak. That being said, he might have come closer to playing than some might have thought. In a normal year, without taxi squads, I think there’s a good chance we would have seen Jasek over Marc Michaelis or even Tyler Graovac.
What’s Next for Jasek?
Now that Jasek is playing for the Lahti Pelicans in Liiga, he’s been a Sharpie’d in as their first-line centre throughout the preseason, playing nearly 20 minutes per night. As our CanucksAbbyFan2 notes in his prospect tracking, Jasek had two goals and one assist during Liiga preseason action.
If Jasek is serious about coming back to North America, then this is a huge season for his development. With this being his last year of eligibility in our rankings, the 24-year-old is quickly graduating away from being a prospect.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with playing hockey full-time, especially as a first-line forward, in one of Europe’s top leagues. However, the Canucks did value his AHL performance enough to qualify him as a restricted free agent. Because of that, they own Jasek’s NHL rights until 2025, the year where he turns 27 years old.
Our CanucksAbbyFan2 will continue tracking Jasek’s development (follow him on Twitter for updates, if you don’t already), with this being a key season to see if he does indeed have an NHL future.