Getting to know Libor Hajek
In the past few days, the Rangers roster has undergone a turnover that we haven’t seen in years. Nick Holden, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash, JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh are all gone. And that is just in the past week. Also gone since last season are Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi, Brendan Smith (at least temporarily) and Kevin Klein. I would not be surprised if more will be leaving in the coming months as well. Currently, the Rangers only have four, yes four, players left from their 2014 Stanley Cup run: Henrik Lundqvist, Mats Zuccarello, Marc Staal, and Chris Kreider. Clearly, the Rangers are fully committed to rebuilding from the ground up.
WELCOME TO THE FARM
While the Rangers do not have many recognizable players left, they have replenished their farm system with many young prospects and will be adding more with the accumulated draft picks. Here at Forever Blueshirts, we are going to attempt to familiarize you with the players that have come into the system. Johnluke started by tackling Brett Howden here. While Howden is undoubtedly a talented prospect, Libor Hajek is the prospect that the Rangers needed to “seal the deal”.
Hajek is a 20-year-old left defenseman that has played in the WHL for the majority of his career.
In his three seasons in the WHL, Hajek has put up 87 points in 186 games. While these are not necessarily outstanding numbers, Hajek is not an offensively minded forward. Hajek is big at 6’0″, 210 pounds and is very proficient at being a shutdown defenseman. He will not wow you with his skating ability like Brady Skjei. However, he is an above-average skater and will use that ability to his advantage. While not a pinpoint passer, Hajek can still move the puck out of the zone using his legs.
REPRESENTING HIS COUNTRY
Hajek had a strong World Junior tournament for the Czech Republic where he anchored the Czech defense. During the tournament, he was named player of the game twice, including in the Bronze medal game against the United States as he totaled over 30 minutes of ice time in multiple games.
While Hajek did not display and does not have the flashy skills of Rasmus Dahlin or some of the other top defensive prospects, Hajek is an extremely solid defensive player. Eventually, I believe he can become a solid complementary partner to one of the Rangers more offensively minded players.
Ultimately, Hajek does not project to be an elite offensive player. However, his defensive stick, skating ability, and size will allow him to be a solid NHL defenseman and Hajek should be in competition for a roster spot in the next year or so. If not, Hajek can be moved as part of a deal for other pieces. Either way, Haje a is talented piece that will help the Rangers rebuild.