Red Line Report scout Radim Jelinek is the tireless type who leaves no stone unturned when it comes to sniffing out prospects in Eastern Europe. For more on Jelinek, we did interviews with him here and also here.
He's championed the play of Czech power forward Dimitri Jaskin for much of the season, but unfortunately for most of the scouting world, Jaskin's viewings have been few and far between this season because he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of both the World Jr. Championships in Dec/Jan and the Five Nations in Feb.
Now Jaskin is back, and Jelinek has seen him several times, returning a thumbs-up verdict for the player in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
RLR has a great writeup on Jaskin in the March issue. Can't put it all here, but will provide some snippets to give you all an idea of what we're looking at with the player who is widely considered the best prospect to come out of the Czech Republic this season. Defenseman David Musil is also a Czech, but he's playing in Vancouver, so when we say the best to come out of CZ, we're talking about players who are overseas playing in that country's Extraliga or junior leagues. You could also very easily make the argument that Jaskin is a better prospect than Musil is after the WHL rearguard has struggled at times to meet with expectations coming into the season.
The right winger, who turns 18 next week and who was actually born in Omsk, Russia, has 3 goals and 7 points in 33 games for Slavia Praha (Prague) in the Extraliga this season after playing one game for their U20 jr. team to start the year.
Here's what Jelinek is saying about the 6-3, 200-pound Jaskin: ...an entirely unorthodox Czech player in that he's physically dominant and imposing below the circles and does his best work in heavy traffic. Conversely, unlike most recent Czechs to hit the NHL, skating is his one problem as he lacks foot speed and first step quickness.
The report goes on to laud Jaskin as a complete player, and he could very well end up with a first-round grade when all is said and done. The limited viewings and injury woes could hurt him, as will the lack of wheels, but he's an intriguing guy to follow.
When Jelinek spoke to B2011DW back in January about Jaskin, he had this exclusive content to provide the blog:
Jaskin is a complete package; skating is a certain drawback, as he lacks smooth stride and looks awkward at times but has deceptive speed, is strong on his skates and is able to get where he needs to be. He is strong on the puck, tough to separate off the puck down low. Goes through checks and tough to handle physically, shields the puck well. Excellent puck puck control in tight space and very good hands in close to the net. Very creative with the puck, anticipates well, has vision and soft hands, passes are crisp. Drives the net, very instinctive player around the net with scoring touch, looks for tips and rebounds close to the net. Quick release of his wrist shot. Finishes all checks causing (defenders) to throw the puck away, creating turnovers plus absorbs checks well, tough to knock him down.Very solid defensively, responsible in own zone and make good decision with puck in own zone showing poise and hockey sense, smart and poised with puck around own blue line, does even the small things well. Has enthusiasm for the game, always plays hard, strong competitor, plays with heart and character.
Jelinek knows his hockey prospects, so this kind of player should have the kind of appeal as a high upside kind of pick. Boston won't have a shot at him now that their own first-rounder belongs to Toronto, but if he somehow falls into the second round, he might be an interesting player to try and move up to get.