Player: Jakub Lauko
Last Season: Providence Bruins
Stats: 5G, 4A, 9PTS, 22GP
Acquired: 2018 Draft – 3rd Round, 77th overall
Currently, the Bruins have two Czech Daves in David Pastrnak and David Krejci. In the near future, they may be joined by two Czech Jakubs: Jakub Zboril and Jakub Lauko.
Zboril was featured yesterday, and today is the younger Jakub’s turn. The 20-year-old forward had his first season in the North American pro ranks cut short due to injury, but has showed promise at every step of his hockey journey thus far.
Lauko’s hype train started rolling pretty early, as he impressed in his initial appearances with the B’s in the summer of 2018. During that preseason stretch, Lauko scored a couple of goals, including a breakaway five-hole goal on Bruins nemesis Braden Holtby.
In his first season after being selected by the Bruins, Lauko had a great year for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. He put up 27 goals and 27 assists in 63 combined regular season and playoff games.
After graduating from the CHL ranks, Lauko made his official North American pro debut last fall. He appeared in a handful of preseason games for the Bruins, and was among the most fun players to watch over that stretch.
With no real room for any forwards at the NHL level, Lauko was sent to Providence. He had a decent start to his AHL run, but suffered a scary injury when he collapsed on the ice after taking a big hit.
He ended up being OK to play for Czechia at the World Junior Championships, but suffered an ugly knee injury just minutes into the tournament.
With the AHL season cut short due to COVID-19, Lauko never really got a chance to get back into any kind of groove.
Still, 9 points in 22 games for a kid who didn’t turn 20 until March is pretty impressive, even more so when you consider the ups and downs he endured over the course of the season.
Lauko is a fun player to watch skate, as he flies up and down the ice. There’s plenty he can work on in his game, but again: he’s 20 years old, just a year older than the Bruins’ last first-round pick, John Beecher, who just finished his first season of college hockey.
What excites about Lauko are his speed and his shot, two things that really can’t be taught. The rest of his game can round out as he develops, and he may benefit from playing with more creative-type players (and the higher-end talent that he’d find around him at the NHL level).
This will be a big season for Lauko. He showed a lot of promise last year, but is recovering from two pretty serious injuries. He’s a longshot to make a Bruins team that is already crowded at forward, but spots should start to open up after the 2020-2021 season.
If Lauko’s development continues, he should be a leading candidate for one of those spots; if he sputters in his second full AHL season, it’ll be a longer haul.
Providence has done a good job taking a guy like Zach Senyshyn, who was more known for scoring prowess than anything else, and rounding out his game.
They’ll likely hope to do the same with Lauko, who already seems to be ahead of where Senyshyn was at his age.
If he keeps it up, who knows? We may see Czech Daves and Czech J’s together sooner rather than later.
Projection for next year: Given the uncertainty around 2020-2021, it’s hard to say if there will be a real NHL training camp. If there is, expect him to get a long look. Ultimately, he’ll play in Providence next season, with at least one NHL call-up mixed in.