Today we surf the waters of the Czech leagues, where Russian-born Dmitri(j) Jaškin has played and lived since his Russian father, Alexej, moved to play pro hockey when Dmitri (many publications leave off the "j") was six months old. Dmitrij was also a good tennis player, but had to make a choice between tennis and hockey.
If your knowledge of Czech is limited -- and if so, your parents failed you -- you may not have the pleasure of knowing words that sound very familiar but, well, Slav-ized. For example, are you hungry? Have a banany. Or, to checky out Jaškin's numbers, just looky at his "statistiky" with Slavia Praha (great name) here.
The quick read on Jaškin: Big, physical right wing with a good shot, needs skating work, may have dropped out of the first round due to a knee injury this year and the limited scout viewings that caused. So sleeper, or bust?
Rankings by People Who Should Know More than We
Things These Smart People Say about This Fine Teenager
Jaskin is big and strong. He plays the North American style of hockey. He’s a good skater who is good in 1-on-1 battles.
Big. And strong like bull.
Fortunately, TSN (ranked 35) provides a totally different perspective:
Strengths - Big, strong player with decent hands and a heavy shot. Uses size and strength effectively along the wall, excellent balance, plays a smart, pro-style game, adept at protecting the puck, solid work ethic.
Okay, maybe not there. But they do add this about his NHL Upside:
...has been compared to Guillaume Latendresse, but with a better skating stride. Also has been called a less skilled Bobby Ryan. If his feet come along may have second-line upside....
The Hockey News in its Draft Preview (buy it at newsstands now! Along with our new book, the Top 50 Defensemen of All Time, which we will mention in editorial content at every opportunity, and refer to it as if it's an official historical record!) says this about Jaškin, using my favorite phrase when discussing teenagers:
The big banger of a right winger played against men in the top Czech league this season and held his own. ... Scout quote: "Has good size, competes, finishes his hits and uses his body well -- and the frame is good; you can build on it."
The report goes on to laud Jaskin as a complete player, and he could very well end up with a first-round grade when all is said and done. The limited viewings and injury woes could hurt him, as will the lack of wheels, but he's an intriguing guy to follow.
Here's The Scouting Report, a little more skeptical:
...Jaskin is a tough player to get a read on as he has a tremendous skill-set, but doesn’t bring it consistently enough. The big Czech winger had an up and down season and had a lot riding on the Under 18’s, where he was fairly average over the course of the tournament. His season never quite took off after an early season injury...
Personality: Jaškin's favorite book is listed as "Shakespeare" -- which must be a fun translation into Czech, what with the vowel drought and all.
Be He Russian or Be He Czech?
He's playing in the Czech league, finally has his Czech passport, and represented the Czechs (quite well) at the last U-18 tourney this spring:
"I am at home in the Czech Republic. I came to Vsetin when I was eight months and have lived here since, with some occasional visits to Russia," the forward says. "Czech hockey has developed me into the player I now, so I was only interested in representing them."
The choice got the approval of his father. "Dmitrij definitely has a better chance to succeed here than he would have in Russia."
Summary of Things Teenager Observers Say
Basically, everyone says Jaškin's big and plays like a North American, but needs to work on his skating. If his skating improves, the size, shot and "compete level" should serve him and his drafting team well.
Could easily be available when the Islanders pick in the second round. And with Radek Martinek looking evermore likely to move on after another injury in the WC, he'd eventually fill that Czech void that is important to no one but me. You can take that to the banky.