The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that defenseman Libor Hajek has been inked to a three-year, two-way entry level contract.
Hajek, who’s from Smrcek, Czech Republic, has four goals and 26 points in 65 games this season with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. His 81 penalty minutes is second on the team, and he’s also second in Blades defensemen for assists and points.
The Lightning selected Hajek in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft after receiving the pick in the trade that sent Anthony Deangelo to Arizona at the draft.
Hajek, whose name is pronounced LEE-bohr, HIGH-ak, will wear No. 24 with the Syracuse Crunch.
— Dan D’Uva (@Dan_DUva) March 21, 2017
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) March 21, 2017
Groulx on Hajek: “We’ll see how he does. I’m very open to giving him a chance if we feel he’s ready to play at this level.”
— Jeremy Houghtaling (@JGHoughtaling) March 21, 2017
What else do you need to know about Hajek? He’s thrown down the gloves this season…
He tweeted his disappointment after being left out in the World Junior Championships…
Disappointed I was not selected to represent Czech in the upcoming #WJC2017 – Wishing the boys good luck.
— libor hajek (@libas42) December 24, 2016
He posted about his first NHL development camp…
He hashtagged the Lightning bolt…
Best day in my life today to hear my name to be called by @TBLightning real a work starts now #⚡️
— libor hajek (@libas42) June 26, 2016
Our friends over at Eyes on the Prize wrote a great profile on Hajek before the draft. Here’s what they said:
Hajek focuses for the most part on his defensive responsibilities. He uses his large frame to keep opposing forwards on the outside, closes his gaps well, and is very tough to beat one-on-one. He is also a good enough skater to get back in transition, if a turnover arises that creates a break for the other team.
He is an all-situations player for Saskatoon. He handles penalty kill and power play minutes, and usually has to match up with the other team’s top line. The same rang true when he played for the Czech Republic at the U18 World Championships.
His skating and puck moving skills are also good, but he definitely needs development in order to be an offensive threat at the next level. He has good offensive instincts, but things like cross ice passing, and his shot could use some work before they’ll be NHL-ready tools.
Some concern has been expressed that he at times gets caught chasing the play. This naturally can lead to him being out of position, which is a problem in the defensive end. A little more awareness would go a long way for him, as he definitely has the physical tools to be a great shutdown defenseman.
You can follow Hajek on Twitter here.