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The 2018 NHL Draft is not known as a strong draft for goalies. That said, Jakub Skarek is every bit deserving of being at the top of the class. The Czech-born goaltender was excellent in the Extraliga this season, playing against men. He played 21 games for HC Dukla Jihlava putting up a 2.41 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He also played 10 games in the second division, dominating with a 1.90 goals against average and .942 save percentage. Unforutnately, HC Dukla Jihlava saw themselves relegated to the second division. This has led to Skarek transferring to Pelicans in Finland for next season. He will take on improved competition in the SM-Liiga.
Skarek played for the Czechs at the World Juniors. His team was overmatched and his numbers suffered as a result. In five games, Skarek had a 5.19 goals against average and .848 save percentage. Things went better at the 2017 summer Ivan Hlinka tournament. Skarek put up a 1.92 goals against average and .930 save percentage in leading the Czech team to their first-ever gold medal in the tournament.
Jakub Skarek Scouting Report
Goalie — shoots Left — Catches Left
Born November 10th, 1999 — Jihlava, Czech Republic
Height 6’3″ — Weight 196 lbs [191 cm / 89 kg]
Skating and Talent Analysis
At 6’3″ Skarek has a frame that most NHL teams are looking for in their goaltenders in recent years. He is an extremely athletic goalie. He is a good skater. Skarek takes advantage of his size by coming out to the top of the crease and challenging shooters, giving them little to shoot at. He has an excellent side-to-side push, getting across the crease quickly and in control. He rarely slides too far and gets himself out of position. Skarek’s legs are strong and quick. He gets in and out of the butterfly quickly. Those fast legs take away the bottom of the net and force shooters to challenge him high. His rebound control is particularly good down low, a rarity in young goalies, as he kicks pucks to the corners.
Skarek’s blocker could use a bit of work. He makes the saves, but his rebound control off the blocker can use some work. He sometimes leaves an enticing rebound in the slot. His glove hand is quick, especially for a European goalie. Skarek’s athleticism allows him to keep himself square to the shooter, and quickly recover to be in position to stop rebounds. Skarek comes out of the net to play the puck behind his net. He is capable of making simple plays, stopping the puck and moving it to his defence. However, he is not the type to make long passes or get the breakout started.
Skarek is calm and composed in net. This was seen in the World Juniors. Even when he was being shelled, he was able to keep his composure and provide a sense of calm to teammates. He maintains good focus and is ready for the next shot. Skarek did not get flustered and maintained his poise in the net. He often came up with big saves, keeping his team in the game as long as possible. When playing on a stronger Under-18 squad, he was able to keep focus even when not facing shots for a longer period of time. Skarek recovers quickly after giving up a goal. He composes himself quickly, and is ready to face the next shooter.
Projection and Comparison
Skarek has the potential to be a number one goaltender in the NHL. However, like most young goaltenders, he is a project and is several years away from the NHL. He must continue to work on sharpening up his game. He also will need to add some bulk, in order to withstand the rigours of a longer season and more games played. Skarek’s style is reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury, but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on potential or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages of Skarek that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
BUFFALO, NY – JANUARY 05: Jakub Skarek #1 of Czech Republic defends his net against Kieffer Bellows #23 of United States who was hooked on the play and awarded a penalty shot during the second period of play in the IIHF World Junior Championships Bronze Medal game at KeyBank Center on January 5, 2018, in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images Sport)