Second Round, 37th Overall, D Libor Hajek

Name: Libor Hajek
Position: Defense
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 196 lbs.
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 04 FEB 98
Club: Saskatoon (WHL)

Saskatoon (WHL), 69 GP, 3-23-26, 76 PIM

Scouting Comments:
"He’s a bigger body, a very solid two-way player ... Libor Hajek was a 'safer bet' to be able to adapt both offensively and defensively to NHL than DeAngelo ... You watch Libor Hajek play on a really weak Saskatoon team and he just plays as hard as he can every shift all night long and his coach, who has just left the team to take an assistant position in Buffalo, couldn't say enough good things about him through the course of the year. On a weak team, he showed up and competed hard against the best players in the league every night when he could have folded his tent." - Lightning Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray

"In his first season in the WHL Libor was a bright spot in a rather disappointing season for the young Saskatoon Blades. Libor stands out as a strong, smooth skating defenseman who impacts the game on both sides of the puck. He he has very good acceleration and can explode off a stand-still. His first couple steps are very good as is his edge control and this allows him to have great escape ability in his own end as well to be a threat offensively as he can get up ice and join the rush. Hajek can also surprise with a move in the offensive zone where his quick feet allow him to quickly gain some space forward and try to make a play with the puck on his stick before the defense sets up into position again. Hajek is capable of getting his shots on the net but isn’t a big threat there, his mobility and offense that springs from transition is more impressive than his offense from the point.

Hajek is a strong player that has great balance and agility and uses this to win puck battles along the wall, although he still needs to add some polish to his physicality as he can be prone to chasing the play a bit and losing his positioning in the process. Hajek is a strong defenseman in transition as he uses his size and skating to keep opponents to outside. He can also be the defenseman that recovers in time if his team turns the puck over in a dangerous position. Hajek is very hard to beat one on one and is very steady on odd man opportunities. If the forward dumps the puck past him, he also has the skating ability and size to win the race, get it back under control and start the transition the other way.

Libor needs to work on being more consistent from shift to shift if he is going to make the jump to the next level. We found that at times he would get caught chasing the play. He projects as a mobile two-way defenseman with size that will probably lean more towards the defensive side of it at the pro-level. That said, Hajek not only already is more than a defensive defenseman, he also has enough offensive tools to develop the offensive part of his game further as he moves forward." -- HockeyProspect.com's Black Book

"He has a chance to be a first rounder. He really impressed me with his feet. This kid is mobile." - HP Scout Mark Edwards

"Powerful, athletic frame produces a strong stride with great pop off his edges and fantastic lateral agility. Also gives him leverage on hits, and he’s able to knock opponents off the puck easily. Frequently catches opposing players with their heads down in open ice. Spins off checks in own zone to prevent getting taken out of the play. Uses forceful physical game to contain defensively. Started the season off constantly pinching aggressively and forcing the play, but began playing more conservatively in second half; still trying to find the right balance as he learns nuances of smaller ice. Outstanding footwork makes him hard to beat 1-on-1. Accurate breakout passer hits targets in motion. Feet are always in rhythm with hands when carrying the puck. Playing on a weak, lifeless club has hampered his extroverted style - seemed to get discouraged and showed growing pains adjusting."

Projection: Dependable #4 defensive rearguard.
Style compares to: Niklas Hjalmarsson
-- Red Line Report

"Hajek has been a top prospect for a few years. He was one of the top 16-year-old players in recent memory to be a regular in the top Czech league, and he was one of Saskatoon's best players this season. Hajek is a fantastic skater, one of the very best in this draft class. He closes his gaps well on his checks, evades pressure and is a threat offensively by activating off the point or jumping into the rush. He moves the puck efficiently, shows some creativity on the power play and is a steady positional player. He is also able to defend his off-wing very effectively. Hajek's hands aren't great, but his IQ lets him get his points, as he opens lanes so well with timing, patience and skating ability. Hajek has some room on his frame to bulk up, and he shows the intangibles to battle for pucks and throw his weight around." -- Corey Pronman, ESPN

Strengths:
Owns a very projectable frame (6-2) and has great mobility. He can play a strong, shutdown role with some physicality. Has the raw tools to produce points, but hasn't been able to showcase that side of his game with much success so far.

Weakneses:
Must fill out his frame in order to maximize output at the NHL level. Must add offense to be a formidable top-4 defenseman who can play more than a shut-down role.

Projection:
Quality top-4, 2-way defenseman.

Chad Schnarr contributed to this report.