(Editor’s note: When putting tougher the rating sheets for this series, I somehow forgot to include a few forwards on the writer ratings. Blame summer, I don’t know. In any case, that’s why Lauko, among others, only has a reader rating. You folks are the law, in this case.)
The 2022-2023 season was, by pretty much all accounts, a good season for Jakub Lauko.
The Czech forward made his NHL debut, scored his first NHL goal (and added three more), and made his playoff debut as well, featuring three times in the first-round series against Florida.
He had a productive season in Providence as well, setting a new career high with ten goals in 35 AHL games.
Overall, last season represented a nice step forward for Lauko, the sort of leap fans have been hoping to see for a while — and one the Bruins hope will be the start of an upward trajectory that continues this season.
Lauko played mostly fourth-line minutes at the NHL level, but the goals he scored showcased his versatility and his skillset.
The goal above, his first at the NHL level, showed good skating speed and an excellent finishing touch.
In his two-goal game against Buffalo in March, he scored one that was a gift (benefited by good positioning) and another that was the kind of “crash the net” energy the Bruins could use on a regular basis.
Lauko is one of many young forwards who will have their eyes on a regular NHL roster spot this season.
He certainly should have as good a chance as anyone to earn a spot, particularly with the aforementioned mix of skill and Czech sandpaper.
However, Lauko’s contract status puts the Bruins in a bit of a tough spot: he will require waivers should the B’s attempt to send him to the AHL this season.
Under contract for two more seasons and still an RFA after that, Lauko would likely be worth a waiver claim for plenty of NHL teams.
I suppose the point here is that a season of the 95 Shuttle isn't likely for Lauko — he’ll need to be either with the B’s or with Providence.
If he can continue to build on the good parts of last season once training camp rolls around, he’ll make the team’s decision an easy one.