Jakub Nakladal (Martin Rose/Getty Images)
After a good showing at the World Championship, Czech blueliner Jakub Nakladal is reportedly close to signing an NHL deal. The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks are the three teams said to be in the running.
Standout Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal could be heading to North America next season and if he does, it appears he could be landing with the Hurricanes, Flames or Blackhawks.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nakladal is working on finalizing an NHL deal and Carolina, Calgary and Chicago are the three teams left in the running. While there haven’t been many reports on what exactly the 27-year-old blueliner is looking for in a destination, he certainly has his pick of destinations following a stellar campaign with TPS Turku of Finland’s SM-Liiga.
In 50 games with TPS this season, Nakladal notched three goals and 15 points to go along with 63 penalty minutes. A 6-foot-1, 198-pound defenseman, Nakladal isn’t a towering and physically imposing force, but rather a steady, stay-at-home blueliner that has been a mainstay on the Czech Republic’s international roster.
Never drafted to the NHL, Nakladal has slowly developed into an NHL-calibre blueliner. In 2009-10, he was named the Czech Extraliga’s best defenseman as he helped HC Pardubice go on to the league title and shortly thereafter made the jump to the KHL to play with Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
Following his brief stint in Ufa, Nakladal spent time with Spartak Moscow and HC Lev Praha before inking a deal with Turku this past off-season.
Nakladal competed at the 2015 World Championship as part of the Czech entry, suiting up for all 10 games for the team and registering five assists as the team went on to lose to Team USA in the bronze medal game.
All three potential NHL clubs reported to be in the running for Nakladal’s services present him with different situations and, likely, different opportunities. In Carolina, he would sign with a team that has a mix of young players and veterans that is coming off of a disappointing year. With Calgary he would get the chance to crack the blueline of a team that took a giant step forward this season. If he were to land in Chicago, he would likely be a fifth or sixth defenseman on an experienced club.