Getting the Nation Network’s seventh ranked Kyle Connor at seventeen was a pretty big deal. Getting the twenty-first ranked Jack Roslovic at twenty-five was pretty great. Then adding our twenty-second ranked player with Jansen Harkins at forty-seven seemed like it would be icing on the cake.
And then Kevin Cheveldayoff broke the Nation Network. At one-hundred-and-eighth overall, the Winnipeg Jets selected Michael Spacek, the Nation Network’s 25th ranked prospect.
To get an idea of how highly we at the Nation Network viewed Spacek, we ranked the Czech higher than countrymen Jakub Zboril, Pavel Zacha, and Filip Chlapik (although in a reranking Zacha would probably jump ahead).
Why do we think so highly of Michael Spacek?
In our research with draft analytics, players who play in European pro-leagues tend to make the NHL and by a fairly large probability.
A player in pro is playing against men in a league where the only goal is to win, not develop. Because of this, simply being on the team is a huge feather in a players cap. The coach views the young 16 or 17-year-old good enough to play against fully grown and developed men.
It’s a whole other ball game when the player performs (relatively) well. Spacek has five goals and seven assists over 44 games combined as a 16 and 17-year-old in the Czech pro-leagues.
That’s a big deal.
At the end of the day, all the offensive tools are there to have a very effective middle to top-6 forward at the NHL level. Spacek is shifty in traffic and has the requisite skill to make tough plays with the puck, and is already producing at an impressive level in the Czech pro league. Aside from the guys listed in the stats section above, PCS also compares Spacek to Sami Kapanen, David Krejci, Martin Havlat, Frans Nielsen, Jiri Tlusty, Tomas Fleischmann, and Ondrej Palat, so the precedent is absolutely there for guys like Spacek to become very good complimentary NHL players. A 34% success rate also rates Spacek among the top draft eligibles in that regard too.
Spacek may end up falling as far as the 3rd round on draft day, but he would be a solid bet to make any time after 20th or so. The further he falls, the larger a bargain he could be.
The scouting community also had kind words on Spacek.
Spacek is a smart playmaker who can take full advantage of others’ skills and knows how to get the puck to those players who can finish. He makes plays on the move and through sticks and skates. He’s not deterred in any way and while he doesn’t catch your eye with physical flash, he captures your attention with his mental effort and purpose.
He’s a hard worker with a good skill set, makes good decisions, is a smart passer and playmaker. He’s quick and mobile, an all-around player with a nose for the net. He is a bit smallish and needs more physical strength.
Overall, it looks like the Jets did big once again with selecting little Michael Spacek.