Sunday

Lukas Krajicek

Defenseman Lukas Krajicek had real potential to become an elite offensive player from the blue line. He had a world class skill set in terms of seeing the game and handing and distributing the puck. He was a silky smooth, almost effortless skater and he had a good point shot.

The native of Prostejov, Czech Republic apprenticed in the Ontario Hockey League with the Peterborough Petes and was a first round draft pick (24th) overall of the Florida Panthers in 2001.

It was not a pick without risk, however.

Krajicek was a thin and spindly defender who had little interest in the physical game. It takes an incredibly special player to excel as a defenseman in the National Hockey League while playing a pacifist game. It can be done - think Mark Howe - though usually their physical game is understated.

But Krajicek never really did stick in the NHL. His offensive potential intrigued enough to keep him bouncing around the league with four teams - Florida, Vancouver, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia - for a total of 328 games. Yet the promised offensive numbers never materialized. He scored career totals of 11 goals and 72 points. In his best NHL season he scored just 19 points. Not enough for a depth defenseman who provided little in terms of physical and defensive play.

To make matters worse, Krajicek's game became prone to ill-advised gambles offensively. He would try to make high risk passes rather than making the safe play to get the puck out of the zone. He also developed a bad tendency to pinch at the wrong time, getting trapped behind while the offensive team went on an odd-man rush. And in his own zone teams loved to dump the puck into his corner and forecheck him hard and hope he rushed his decision to move the puck and turn that into a turnover.

Krajicek was an intriguing player with a nice skill set, but ultimately he was not a long time NHL player. He left the NHL in 2010 and continued his career overseas.

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