Previous Rank: #25
Jan Kostalek's second season in North America was a success for the young Czech Republic national. While known more as a defensive defenseman, Kostalek showed considerable improvement offensively this season, finishing 3rd on the Oceanic in defensive points and just 9 points short of team leader (with 6 less games played). He was second on the team in ice time, averaging over 22 minutes per game. Per estimations at extraskater.com, Kostalek faced the second hardest quality of competition on his team. The only player ahead of him was 2013 1st round pick Frederick Gauthier. Kostalek was also estimated to be 3rd on his team in penalty kill time and 1st among defensemen in powerplay time.
Kostalek has extensive international experience despite his young age. The latest experience was last year at the WJC for the Czech Republic. Despite there being plenty of older defensemen on the roster, Kostalek was trusted by the coaching staff as their premier defensive defenseman. This was evidenced by his extremely high defensive zone starts he received during that tournament, as tracked by our own Garret Hohl. Despite these disadvantages, Kostalek managed post an even plus-minus in the tournament on a weaker Czech team. He has also has extensive resume with the Czech Under 18 team appearing in 2 tournaments in 2011 and 2012.
As a right handed defenseman Kostalek is going to have an uphill battle for icetime in the Jets organization. He is projected to head back to an even bigger role this season with playing on Rimouski's top pair. He will also be counted on as the Czech's best defenseman in the WJC.
Kostalek needs to be signed by June 1, 2015 in order for the Jets to continue to control his rights, so this is an important season for Kostalek if he wants to earn that contract.
AIH Authors' Thoughts:
Jan has a weird year on the stat sheet. He started off the year on fire, then went through a lengthy drought before finishing the season hot. Shot production remained largely stagnant though. Jan is another smooth skating defender and he has some offensive upside, but he is unlikely to be a big time point producer at the pro-level. His game is mostly about smarts and positioning. That said, Jan should see a major increase in his boxcars this year, after watching the team's top powerplay option, Jimmy Olginy age out. Kostalek is a bit of a wild card. He has some very interesting tools, but he has yet to put them all together and dominate. He definitely has the potential to shoot up this list next year.
The Czech native has quite a bit of international tournament experience, but his QMJHL team Rimouski didn't have the depth to go far in the playoffs. He has potential, but being a right handed D-man prospect in the Jets organization isn't a good situation to be in, just ask Zach Redmond.
Kostalek has emerged as the number one defenseman on his junior team the Rimouski Oceanic above Flyer's 2013 first rounder Sam Morin. He has a very high hockey IQ which is his biggest strength. He also has a very fluid skating stride, is very strong positionally and makes a strong first pass out of the defensive zone. He has all the skills you look for in a potential shutdown defensive defender.
Kostalek has also shown to have some offensive skill at the junior level using his skating and passing to push the play. He is still very much a raw player that has not quite found his all around game yet but the building blocks are all there for a solid shutdown 2nd pairing defenseman.
Each draft I pick a non-top-three-rounds pet prospect; last year's was Kostalek. While his low offensive production numbers to give some minor concerns, Kostalek's plus skating ability and above average passing abilities allow him to be an intriguing late round prospect. I was highly impressed with his play in the world juniors, where he took nearly every defensive zone start for the Czechs, yet he posted a +50% Corsi%.
Honestly, the kid played in a professional men's league not far from the quality of the AHL in the same year he was young enough to play in a Under 17 tournament!
Kostalek-types are likely what the future holds in defensive defensemen, defenders who are not skilled enough in shooting or playmaking to score well, but smooth skaters and breakout specialists in pushing the play. Whether he becomes one of those for the Jets though is legitimate question.
Kostalek didn’t attend the Jets Development Camp earlier this summer so I haven’t seen him play in quite some time, but I did have some nice things to say about him from the 2013 camp. But his RHD status in an organization flush with them hurts his ranking IMO. Whether or not he can move up with a big season in Rimouski will be up to him.
2013 Top 25 Under 25 - #25 Jan Kostalek