Each day over the next 10 days leading up to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, held on Oct. 6–7, The Rink will be taking a look at draft prospects who could be available when the Chicago Blackhawks announce their selection with the 17th overall pick. We will group the players by position, starting with forwards.
Next in the series of prospect profiles is Czech center Jan Mysak.
2019–20 Team: Litvinov (Czech Republic) / Hamilton (OHL)
Date of Birth: June 24, 2002
Place of Birth: Litvinov, Czech Republic
Weight: 175 pounds
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 28 (North American Skaters)
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 9 (European Skaters)
NHL Comparable: Nick Suzuki
Jan Mysak is arguably the poster boy of high-risk, high-reward prospects in the 2020 draft class. A native of the Czech Republic, the dynamic forward crossed the pond midseason to play in the OHL to increase his draft-year exposure. A bold strategy to say the least, Mysak seemed to settle into the North American game as the season progressed.
Mysak is fleet of foot on the ice with good top-end speed and the ability to weave in and out of defenders with strong edgework. He enjoys using his feet to generate quality chances, as he has little fear attacking the middle of the ice. When pairing this ability with his stickhandling talent, Mysak can be a dangerous offensive weapon. Mysak also uses his skating to protect the puck from the opposition, maneuvering his body to keep the puck away from checkers.
Because of his strong skating ability, Mysak can be a highly effective transition player by pushing the pace of play to create offense. That said, Mysak also has a good understanding of when to slow things down and wait out the defense to make the correct play.
While he has the vision needed to be a quality playmaker, Mysak is generally a shoot-first player. He has the quick release and accuracy required to be a high-end goal scorer at the next level.
Though not a massive liability in his own end, Mysak definitely has work to do in order to become a more well-rounded player. He can be too passive in his own end in pressuring the opposition and can sometimes be caught flat-footed after watching the puck carrier for too long. That said, Mysak typically has a pretty good work ethic on the ice, so the hope would be these areas can be cleaned up with time.
Implications for the Blackhawks
How much of a risk are the Blackhawks looking to take with their first-round pick? If they want a safer bet, Mysak will not even be considered for the selection. But, if they are willing to swing for the fences, Mysak is their guy. While Mysak theoretically could be off the board if another team really feels his upside outweighs his inconsistencies, odds are probably good Mysak will be available when the Blackhawks make their pick at 17 if they want to take the shot. Mysak would not necessarily be a reach at 17, but the cons of his game will likely limit him from being picked any earlier.
Mysak definitely needs a lot of seasoning before playing in the NHL. He will require attention to get him on track in terms of his defensive engagement, especially if he is going to play center at the next level. Similarly, Mysak needs to be more assertive on the forecheck, as he has the tools to be effective disrupting the opposition in their own end. Mysak’s puck-moving consistency also needs work, as he has a bit of an issue with making sloppy plays that often lead to turnovers. He will likely spend another two seasons in the OHL before turning pro, where he could then greatly benefit from getting used to the pro game in the AHL. While he could make the jump sooner, do not expect for Mysak to be playing meaningful NHL minutes any earlier than 2023–24.
Mysak is very much a boom-or-bust prospect capable of becoming either a solid top-six scorer or not cutting it at the NHL level. The offensive tools are there; it will just be a matter of putting it all together and being more consistent and reliable. While he certainly has the upside to be a productive center in the NHL, he could also end up being a winger should his two-way game not come to fruition. Should Mysak live up to his potential, he would make his team quite happy, as they would likely have gotten a bit of a steal.
What others are saying
“Mysak’s arrival in North America went just about as well as it could have. He started his OHL stint with 10 goals in nine games and when the season came to an early end, Mysak had registered 25 points in 22 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs. He was able to show off the tools that we saw glimpses of in his native Czech Republic when he played in the men’s pro league there. His shot is lethal and he has some explosion in his game. He finds his teammates well and looked more efficient in his skating stride as the year wore on. He still needs to work on being a bit more efficient with his stride, but a noticeable improvement has been made. He thinks the game at a high level and he could find a role in an NHL top-six at some point in the future. He may not be a true line driver, but he pushes play in the right direction and he has the skill to be a productive scoring winger.”
“Mysak has a knack for getting open and uses his top-end speed to outpace pressure. His footwork and straight-line skating are quite impressive, and his stride is long and clean. Mysak also displays a commanding on-ice presence and is a creative forward who can finish as well as he can set up linemates. Mysak has elite hands and a nasty shot-release combination on his wrist shot (just ask Yaroslav Askarov about that one). He was a bit more active finding space in the Extraliga than he has with Hamilton, but he still knows how to create his own shot and has proven he can score on the backhand with regularity.”