2020 NHL Entry Draft Profile: Jaromir Pytlik

The Czech center is full of good hockey sense and finishing ability.

The 2020 NHL Entry Draft has been officially postponed by the NHL, and it seems increasingly likely the annual event will be held virtually as the NFL is preparing to do at the end of this month. On the positive side of things, that means more time for me to publish these entry draft profiles to help you all get up to speed with these prospects certain to be chosen at the draft.

Draft Scouting - On the Forecheck

This is the seventh installment in this series. You can find my six previous draft profiles at the link above and some additional content covering the 2020 World Junior Championship and the 2020 undrafted free agent class.

Next up in this series is Soo Greyhounds forward Jaromir Pytlik.

Jaromir Pytlik - C

Soo Greyhounds [OHL] - 18 - Dacice, Czechia

Pytlik is a very interesting prospect in my mind from an age and size perspective. He’s 6’3” and easily stands out among OHL competition, and he just missed eligibility for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by a couple of weeks. Regardless, 2019-20 was still Pytlik’s first full season in the OHL, as more European prospects have made a habit of coming to North America halfway through their draft year.

Pytlik grew up in the KLH Jindrichuv Hradec system that produced NHLers like Jiri Novotny and the Michalek brothers and made his Czech extraliga debut at 16 in 2017-18 for Vitkovice. Since then, Pytlik has been a mainstay for Czech junior teams at all age levels, including 18 games for the U18 and U20 squads last year in which he scored 12 points total.

In 2018-19, Pytlik played 24 games in the top Czech league before coming to Sault Ste. Marie to appear in 26 games for the Greyhounds where he totaled 19 points.

This season, Pytlik finished fifth on the Greyhounds and 13th among all first-year, draft-eligible OHL forwards in scoring with 22 goals and 50 points in 56 games. Pytlik scored 21 primary points at even-strength this season, 39 primary points total (12th among first-year, draft-eligible forwards) and finished the season with a 4.92% relative goals-for rate at even strength.

Pytlik’s Scouting Report

Physically imposing with a good frame to win puck battles and maintain possesssionDoesn't have excellent breakaway speed but wouldn't consider him slow
Carries a well-developed shooting arsenal, particularly his wrist shot and one-timerCan sometimes "bunch up" in puck support and fail to create time and space
Plays center or wing and covers 200 feet of the ice with consistent pace and awareness"Pushes" the puck too much when stickhandling despite being a crossover skater

In a lot of typical scouting, I think the phrase, “200-foot player” is lazy and overused. In Pytlik’s case, I think it’s appropriate in a good and a bad sense.

In the clip above, Pytlik (#26 in red) enters the offensive zone as the third forward and immediately heads back on defense once the puck is turned over. A criticism you may often see of him is that he is not a flashy offensive player; I think that mostly translates from his tendency to provide good puck support and find the right time and place in offensive positions.

Anyway, Pytlik is a fairly responsible defensive player. Above you will see he isn’t accelerating past Nashville’s Philip Tomasino on the backcheck, but he’s keeping in decent lockstep with a much quicker player. Pytlik pokes and prods with his stick and his skating stride is reliant on big crossover steps that head into deep cuts in the ice. Ultimately, Pytlik helps prevent a scoring chance and provokes Tomasino in the process.

Here, Pytlik (#26 in white) displays that massive crossover-based stride as the Greyhounds break out of the zone along the near boards. He enters the offensive zone, again, as forward #3 and attempts to back off as his defender pinches down low. This is sometimes where I don’t love his awareness: he may bunch up too closely to the puck carrier or ignore covering the blue line, but it is nothing seriously detrimental to his game. On the backcheck, Pytlik starts to use a more traditional skating stride and forces a turnover, albeit off of a slow transition play.

In this clip, you see that crossover-heavy stride once more, but first, I love Pytlik’s tendency to formally adjust his hands for creative drop passes or transition plays. He’s an underrated passer with a good forcefulness to his assists. Pytlik is ultimately able to score off his back-foot wrist shot.

Above, Pytlik helps with a quick transition play through the neutral zone and ends up finishing off a high-danger scoring chance. But, again, notice how when the puck carrier enters the zone, the forward triangle starts to flatten into a line (if only momentarily) before Pytlik disengages and opens up his blade for a scoring chance. Any effort to take his game to the professional level will have involve executing that puck support awareness a step quicker.

This clip shows a full overtime shift from Pytlik that has a lot of elements to break down. First, you may think he’s disengaged from the play as the Greyhounds’ cycle develops, but I like how he’s securing his open space before his team commits to a high-danger chance, which he sets up on a solid pass to the net. The whole shift he keeps the opposing defender tethered to the slot as he threatens a screen and then backs off to receive a pass. After a failed scoring chance, I love Pytlik’s quick display of his hands with a tap pass between the legs; he doesn’t register an assist on this game-winner, but his play is critical to pinning two defenders in that near circle and opening up the one-timer.

On the power play, Pytlik is often used as a net-front screen or side-net bumper which sets up goals like the one above. Despite this, Pytlik possesses an impressive one-time shot from the circles, too.

The one major confounding principle of Pytlik’s game is that he uses heavy lateral crossover steps to pick up speed in transition, but he’s a north-south pusher with the puck rather than an east-west stick handler. His large frame helps him protect from opponents and his crossover step can be utilized to dodge trick scenarios like in the primary assist play above.

Pytlik won’t ever be a brilliant scorer off of rush chances and he may never dazzle with the puck. I think his positioning in the offensive and defensive zones can be tightened at times, but, overall, he’s a solid puck support player that will cash in rebounds, play well in transition and capitalize on a good wrist shot, too.

Expected Pick Range

Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) over at silversevensens.com has done remarkable work compiling draft rankings and establishing an ‘Expected Pick Range’ from a variety of different sources. You can read about his methodology here, track the compiled rankings here, and use his data viz (embedded below) here.

Pytlik’s Expected Pick Range: #31 to #77 — 1st Round to 3rd Round

As you will notice, Pytlik’s expected pick range has widened since last summer, and that’s unsurprising. While his OHL point totals are good, they left something to be desired for such a physically impressive and skilled prospect. I think a mid to late second round selection of Pytlik could be a massive steal for an NHL club.

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and and pick224.com.