Saskatoon Blades defenseman Libor Hájek is in Brandon, Florida this week taking part in Tampa Bay Lightning Development camp. This is Libor’s second go around at the summer development camp after being selected in the 2nd round by the Lightning in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The ’98 born defender signed his first pro contract with the Bolts almost immediately after the 2017 WHL season ended. Hájek then joined the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, appearing in the final 8 games down the stretch of the regular season. Libor even scored his first goal in the AHL on March 29th in a game versus the Binghamton Senators.
Hájek remained with the Crunch for their playoff run, but didn’t see any action as a result of several players being sent down from the Lightning who failed to qualify for the NHL playoffs. The Crunch went all the way to the Calder Cup finals but fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins in 6 games. Nonetheless, a golden opportunity for Libor to learn and gain experience in a professional league.
Hájek is also be expected to attend the Lightning’s main camp in the fall for the second consecutive year. In 2016 Hájek dressed for one NHL pre-season game before being sent back to Saskatoon to join the Blades. Still just 19 years old, the Blades expect Libor back for the upcoming season as his only other option is staying with the Lightning full time. Since Hájek was drafted out of the WHL, he is not eligible to play in the AHL at the age of 19. With a slew of young defensemen in Tampa’s system, Libor says he’s hoping to make an impact and prove his worth for the future.