The Blue Jackets have made a decision on Czechia’s request to loan defenseman David Jiricek for the upcoming World Juniors. As Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports (subscription link), Columbus will let the 19-year-old participate in the event where he’ll play alongside two more team prospects in forward Martin Rysavy and defenseman Stanislav Svozil.
Jiricek was the sixth-overall pick by the Blue Jackets in the summer despite missing significant time due to an injury sustained in the original version of the World Juniors last December. This will be his third time participating in the event (not including the canceled edition).
His first season in North America has been a successful one to the point where it was possible that Columbus could have declined the Czechs’ request in order to allow him to continue his momentum with AHL Cleveland. Jiricek is on a nice run with the Monsters with an impressive 11 points in his last 10 games and is likely to have another NHL stint at some point in the second half of the season after getting into two games back in late October. It seems likely that Columbus will want to keep him below the 10-game threshold to not activate the first year of his contract.
The roster for the Czechs hasn’t been finalized yet – they have three cuts still to make – but as things stand, they’re likely to send 12 NHL-drafted prospects to the event with Jiricek being the headliner. On top of that, the team will likely also have draft-eligible winger Eduard Sale, who is expected to be a lottery selection in June. Accordingly, they could be an under-the-radar team to keep an eye on.