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Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25: #18 Jan Kostalek

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These are the voyages of the rickety ship, Arctic Ice Hockey. Its annual mission: to explore strange new prospects; to seek out new hot taeks and new information; to boldly go where almost every hockey blog has gone before.

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Rank

DOB

Acquired

Pos

Allan

Andy

Philip

Daniel

Ryan

Cara

Ian

Brian

Tim

18

1995/02/17

#114, 2013

D

15

26

15

16

20

12

19

14

15

Previous Rank: 23rd

Jan Kostalek had the kind of year which can catapult a prospect up their organization's rankings. 2014-15 saw him earn the QMJHL's Emile-Bouchard Trophy for Defenseman of the Year, joining names such as Simon Despres, Dmitri Kulikov, Kris Letang and Keith Yandle. He also received the Kevin Lowe Trophy for Best Defensive Defenseman and a 1st All-Star Team nod. There's an understated quality to most of Kostalek's game, so it was nice to see his junior career end with awards and acclaim.

To me, Kostalek plays a style reminiscent of San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He's the kind of mobile, intelligent, positionally sound defender who, despite a capable offensive game, probably won't show up too often on the highlight reels. His value is in being a stabilizing defensive rock, one who can quickly and effectively start the play moving in the right direction.

Stats:

While gaudy numbers are almost expected from a player in their final junior season before turning pro, it was still a very successful year for Jan Kostalek. His 43 points in 57 games put him 10th in total points among all QMJHL defensemen during the regular season. He then proceeded to kick it up a notch in the playoffs, his 21 points in 20 games leading all defensemen in postseason scoring (the closest was Jacob Sweeney, with 16 points in 16 games).

He also put up 3 points in 4 games at the 2015 Memorial Cup, placing him in a four-way tie for 3rd most among defensemen. For comparison's sake, Josh Morrissey was tied for 2nd most among defensemen at the same tournament, scoring 5 points in 5 games.

AIH Authors' Thoughts:

Andrew:

Jan Kostalek for me is right behind the likes of Clitsome, Harrison and Pardy on the Jets defensive depth chart. I expect good things from Kostalek, given his increasing point totals every year for 3 years at Rimouski. He's on the cusp. But one or two more years of development, likely in the AHL will be good for him. If Buff re-signs, I also see him as potential trade bait.

Brian:

The 2014-15 QMJHL Defenseman of the Year has certainly become more of a popular name discussed by Jets fans in the past year. Kostalek will make his pro debut this season with the Moose and I personally expect him to turn a few more heads.

Daniel:

Jan Kostalek has come a long way since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 Entry Draft. Initially regarded as a bit of a longer-term prospect, Kostalek has become a fairly polished two-way defenseman, and one of the Jets' few defensive prospects that look like they might possess top-4 potential.

Kostalek is a good skater and plays a smart game, rarely making a mistake. He's got a little bit of an edge, but never seems to get out of control. And after posting so-so counting stats in his draft year, he's rounded out his offensive game and scored at an increasing rate each year in Rimouski.

Like any prospect, Kostalek is still a bit thin and needs to bulk up a bit to compete as an NHL defenseman, so I expect him to spend at least one season in the AHL. With a bit of a defensive logjam in front of him anyway, there's no rush. Kostalek is certainly a prospect worth watching though, as with a little bit more polish he won't be far off from playing in the NHL. And if Kostalek's offensive game continues to develop, he could very well play on an NHL team's second pairing one day.

Tim:

Jan Kostalek was drafted with little fanfare. He was expected to be, at best, second fiddle to teammate and first round draft pick Samuel Morin. Times have changed. Kostalek grew to take on more responsibility - both offensively and defensively. By the end of his junior career he was the team's most consistent and leaned on defender, which in turn led to his being voted the best defenseman in the entire QMJHL.

That said, Jan is far from a slam dunk. He doesn't showcase the kind of skill or flash that you'd expect from a top flight prospect. He plays a calm, simple game. Transitioning this game to professional hockey may take a while. Jan is a smart player, with some nice skating. He makes a nice first pass, but doesn't have overwhelming offensive abilities. I am very curious to see how he looks as a pro.

Media:

Look for #3 in these highlights from Game Six and Game Seven of the 2015 QMJHL Finals. I especially appreciate how they're not just goal-scoring highlight reels, and show some of the quietly excellent defensive aspects of his game. It's hard not to love Kostalek's calm puck handling under pressure. Also, I have no idea what he's saying 95% of the time, but the play-by-play guy is awesome.


Summary:

Looking to 2015-16, Jan Kostalek joins the reborn Manitoba Moose with a degree of extra buzz and excitement. As yesterday's prospect Scott Kosmachuk shows, we should be careful about foisting perhaps unfair expectations on an AHL rookie. Having said that, I am quite willing to buy into Dan's suggestion that Kostalek may possess top-four potential, along with a need for extra seasoning in the minors.

What do you folks think? What should we expect of Kostalek as he begins his professional career? Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your thoughts in the Comments section below.