Off the top of the head: Jakub Lauko

The prospect series continues with a quick look at Czech forward Jakub Lauko and what he brings to the table.

Jakub Lauko, LW

2nd selection, 77th overall in 2018 NHL Entry Draft

Current team: Providence Bruins (AHL)

Previous team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

Strengths: Top skater; explosive/elite burst, balance, and the ability to beat defenders wide with straight line speed, or rapid edging/direction change- can turn on a dime. Wins a lot of foot races to loose pucks and has the shifty, slippery elusiveness to get around players 1-on-1. One of the best pure skaters in hockey at any level. Good size: 6-foot-1 frame that is still filling out- just had his 19th birthday last week. Pin-point, flash release on his shot; nose for the net- when he shoots the puck in close, good things happen. Good worker who competes and is willing to embrace a 200-foot responsibility- not one-dimensional.

Weaknesses: Lacks high-end puck skills, vision and offensive hockey IQ, which could cap his offensive ceiling at the NHL level. Lean and light- suffered a concussion in early December after taking a big hit in an AHL game that required a gurney to take him off the ice. Returned to action for the World Jr. Championship tournament late in the month, but suffered a lower body/MCL injury that cost him the rest of the competition, plus all of January and February before returning for four AHL games in March prior to the season-ending COVID-19 situation for the league.

Overall analysis: Getting Lauko in the third round two years ago was very good value for the B’s. He came over to North America to play major junior in the QMJHL, winning the 2019 Memorial Cup championship and subsequently turning pro. His skating and ability to play with pace allowed him to play in the AHL, but his offensive production was indicative of his youth and a middle-of-the-pack skill set. Even though Lauko is a dynamic, game-breaking talent with his wheels, he doesn’t appear to have the hands or creativity to be a top tier scorer at the NHL level. What he can be is an effective 2-way forward who can provide secondary offense and will be a capable three-zone player and penalty killer. He’s got a genuine personality and is well-liked, so he’s easy to root for. Where his draft day fall to the third round raised some eyebrows at the time, it is now apparent that his average hands/skills contributed. Having said that, he’s a solid middle tier prospect who will upgrade his team’s speed/energy and be a good complementary piece- not a driver.

Projection: Capable middle-six forward and PKer at the NHL level; might play more wing than center in the show- time will tell. With only 22 AHL games under his belt, he’s going to need more time in Providence. If the injury bug hits in 20-21, Lauko could see time in Boston as a recall player, but the best thing for him until then will likely be to continue his development track on the farm where he can get quality minutes and play in a variety of situations. At age 19, he’s still quite young, and it’s possible he could raise his offensive profile going forward. However,  his NHL ceiling looks to be about 20 goals/40-45 points at this stage, and that would make for a successful third-round draft choice.

NHL video extended highlights of Sep 23 preseason Bruins-Flyers game. Lauko is 94 and takes opening faceoff, later scores at about 2:10 with a nice self-pass off the wall and a sharp-angle shot.

Here’s Lauko’s 1st AHL goal vs the Rochester Amerks- goes to the net: right place, right time

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