Jakub Lauko has been a name to watch for a little bit, and he might now be on the precipice of breaking into the NHL.
Lauko made his pro debut with AHL Providence when he was just 19 years old. He always has been an electric factory with his slick shot, speedy skating and willingness to agitate opponents. But the mostly uncontrollable reality that Lauko and scores of other prospects around the league face is he simply was not ready physically to play in the top flight.
But he’s gotten bigger and, at the same time, more acclimated to playing in North American rinks, and with five goals and 14 assists with Providence last season, he started to show that he’s really coming around.
Perhaps this is the year he’ll put himself on the map.
“Sometimes when we’re talking about players,” new P-Bruins head coach Ryan Mougenel said Wednesday, “one description I always use is: ‘Does he get you excited?’ And I think every time he steps on the ice, something happens. …
“He’s definitely put the time in in his growth as a player and a person, and I think he’s really going to push,” Mougenel, who has been an assistant in Providence, continued. “I think he’s the type of player that Butch Cassidy likes. He’s got some abrasiveness, that really showed up last year, along with the skill package. He’s the real deal, we’re real happy with how he’s come along. Special kid, tons of energy, just an exciting kid to be around.”
A third-round pick in 2018, the Czech Republic native always has had the general makeup of a gifted offensive player, but like anyone, things just needed refining. Even with the growth in every aspect, there’s a better chance than not that he begins the season in Rhode Island.
“Everyone knows that the Bruins roster is pretty backed up with a lot of good players, a lot of good players on offense,” Lauko said. “I’m just going to try to fight for an opportunity and I’ll do my best to stay here as long as possible.”
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it might give him a shot to get even more NHL ready before he’s actually thrown into the fire.
“We have the ability to have the players marinate in the American League, and when they’re ready they seem to go up when their games are tight and good,” Mougenel said. “That’s a testament to the organization, we have the ability to wait on some players and make sure that they’re the best version of themselves, and I think Jakub Lauko is one example of that.”
It also has been an unusual path for Lauko, who had his first season with Providence railroaded by injuries before playing through the bizarre, COVID-19-impacted 2021 campaign. Maybe, after all, the best thing for him could be to bake in the minors for at least another year unless he really starts carving up the competition.
Whatever the case, he is someone to keep a close eye on. He has all the makings of a Bruins fan-favorite, and in due course he should be able to show that off.