2021-22 Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: Feb. 18, 2003
Place of Birth: Columbus, OH, USA
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 170 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 second-year eligible
David Spacek made a name for himself as an overage prospect in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in 2021-22 as a member of the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The 19-year-old defenseman scored 12 goals and added 38 assists in 57 games. He continued the offensive production with two goals and 11 assists in 11 playoff games, helping Sherbrooke advance to the semifinal for the first time since their franchise inception in 2012.
Prior to the 2021-22 season, Spacek spent the past four seasons playing overseas in Czechia. He returned to North America with a major breakout effort that earned him the Raymond Lagacé Trophy as the best defensive rookie in the QMJHL and a spot on the league’s All-Rookie Team. He also competed in the abbreviated World Junior Championships in 2021. He reached the peak of his development during the later months of the season, which sometimes convinces NHL teams of room for further growth after the draft.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Spacek’s father Jaroslav played 13 NHL seasons for seven different teams from 1998 through 2012. David was born in the United States in 2003 while his father was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jaroslav won a gold medal with Team Czechoslovakia at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 and a bronze medal with the Czech Republic in Torino in 2006.
The strongest part of David Spacek’s game is his shot from the point. The development of his shot might attract NHL teams looking for a defenseman who can run a power-play unit in the offensive zone. Sherbrooke head coach Stéphane Julien complimented his player’s ability to play a strong defensive game, especially with a physical presence. As the son of a former NHL defenseman, he plays sound fundamentally and possesses a good ability to win one-on-one puck battles.
The skill set of a heavy shot and a strong physical presence in the defensive zone aligns with the traditional portrait of defensemen who played during his father’s era. Although the priority for this type of player isn’t as high in the modern era, there is certainly still a role to be played in the game today. Spacek could use these tools to become a third-pair defenseman in the NHL. Given that the expected adjusted time to the professional level for defensemen is a little bit longer than it is for forwards, the factor as an overage prospect and the surge at the end of the QMJHL season might help convince teams that he is closer to the NHL than some other prospects on the board and improve his draft stock.
Ryan Stimson wrote about the “relationship between draft pick number and a team’s propensity to select an overage prospect, as those prospects are more ‘developmental ready’ with higher floors, but lower ceilings” after the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (from “Stimson: Why certain NHL teams tend to draft overage prospects more than others,” The Athletic, 10/30/2018). He identified contending teams as more likely to draft overage prospects because of the expectation for a shorter span of all-around development.
Other THW Draft Profiles
David Spacek- NHL Draft Projection
Spacek lacks the size to become a dominant physical force on the back end. However, his sense of defensive responsibility could help him rise through the ranks at the professional level. A strong fundamental game from the son of a former NHL player can catch the attention of organizations looking for depth pieces in the later rounds. His shot from the point will be considered another tool to help him reach the next level. He could come off the board in the fifth, sixth, or seventh round.
“Defensively, he’s a player who is extremely solid physically. He makes good first passes, and his shot is NHL caliber already.” –Stéphane Julien, Head Coach of the Sherbrooke Phoenix (via Melissa Boyd)
“My dad teaches me a little bit of what to do on the ice and gives me a little bit of review on my game every day, so it kind of helps me.” -David Spacek
“I think David has more offense in his game than his dad, just (from) watching his dad play when I was a little bit younger. But defensively, I can see that his dad teaches him a lot of things because he is very hard to beat one-on-one.” —Stéphane Julien, Head Coach of the Sherbrooke Phoenix
- Defensively responsible game
- One-on-one puck battles
- Shot from the point
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Complete offensive game
Defensemen who can think the game well and play a reliable game on the back end will always have a place in the NHL. Although they might not fit the mold of puck-moving defensemen that are now valued as foundational building blocks for NHL franchises, the serviceable role often leads to long careers. Spacek can play that type of role well at a minimum. However, his shot from the point, the impressive offensive production in the QMJHL, and the notable improvement throughout his first season in North America indicate a higher ceiling than most defensemen who typically play on the third pair with less responsibility.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk 3/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 6/10, Defense 8/10
Spacek became a decorated young defenseman after his only season in the QMJHL. He won the Raymond Lagacé Trophy as the best defensive rookie, and he was named to the All-Rookie Team. He has participated in international competitions for Czechia over the past five years, most notably the World Junior Championships in 2021-22. He won a bronze medal at the U17 World Hockey Championships in 2019-20.
Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.