By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Two seasons coaching Jakub Lauko left an impression on Vladimir Ruzicka, former Bruins forward and current coach of Pirati Chomutov in the Czech League.
“I’ve been training him for two years and I know he’s very talented,” Ruzicka told me via email. “He also works hard to be better and he concentrates only for hockey. He came very young to the senior team and started to realize what he must do for hockey. He sees the attitude of senior players to training and matches and is approaching them in this attitude a lot.”
Attitude was just one of the attributes that sold the Bruins on Lauko, who lasted until Boston selected him in the third round (No. 77) at the NHL Draft in June. Along with world-class speed and a nose for the net, the 18-year-old Lauko’s attitude could continue to help him play against bigger, older players in the coming season. A source close to the situation said the plan (as of earlier this month) is for Lauko to attend Bruins training camp and earn a job in North America. As of now, Lauko is unsigned.
Just like the scouts and draft publications before the draft, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was impressed with Lauko’s speed during the club’s development camp in the final week of June.
“Yeah, clearly [impressed by] his straight-away speed and ability to get behind defenseman through the neutral zone,” Sweeney said. “He gets on top of pucks, he showed finish today which he’s showed at the levels he’s played at.”
Of course there’s more to playing at the sport’s highest level than just flying around the rink (in theory, anyway). Lauko several times at the draft and at development camp stressed his desire to improve his play without the puck and be a responsible player that coaches can trust.
It shouldn’t be difficult because, as it turns out, Lauko has experience being counted on for defense.
“You know from my beginning when I was young, I was responsible,” said Lauko, who explained that he was a defenseman for a couple years in his mid-teens. “Like when we were playing U-16, U-15, I was always a responsible player. And from that way I used for the penalty kill, for power plays, to do defense. I was playing the D. So I think it’s in me, the responsibility.”
Now 6-foot tall and 173 pounds, Lauko showed signs of an all-around game even after he made the jump to the pro league at 17 with Pirati. He had two goals in 28 games.
Last season he had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 42 games for Pirati. Ruzicka, a veteran of 233 NHL games, including 166 for the Bruins from 1990-93, was always impressed by Lauko’s ability to do what he was told and not become a liability even when he wasn’t scoring.
“I really care about tactics. I saw at the beginning in senior team that he is good in tactics,” Ruzicka said. “He follows the instructions in the offensive and defensive zone and improves his tactical skills. He is thinking on the ice.”
Wherever Lauko plays this season, Ruzicka says the versatile left-handed shot has to improve his instincts and also finish better when he’s creating multiple scoring chances with his blazing speed.
Having already impressed one former Bruins player, Lauko will set out to impress some more former Bruins players and current Boston front-office folks this fall. It’ll be interesting to see if the speedster can continue to climb up levels of the sport ahead of his time.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.