Providence Bruins Notebook: Jakub Lauko taking big steps forward; Vladar & Swayman standing tall

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Fair or not, the chips were going to be stacked against Jakub Lauko entering the 2019-20 season.

Even with his meteoric rise through the Bruins' system in the span of a year — with the self-proclaimed steal of the 2018 NHL Draft helping the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies win the 2019 Memorial Cup (41 points in 44 games / 13 points in 19 playoff games) in his first season in North America — developmental roadblocks were to be expected in year two, especially with the 19-year-old winger making the jump up from junior hockey to the AHL ranks with Providence.

Indeed, the growing pains were there for Lauko in his first taste of pro hockey (nine points in 22 games with Providence). But taking his lumps against much older and stronger competition would have been the preferred route from the one that the Czech forward ultimately ended up taking during the 2019-20 campaign — with most of it spent on the sidelines due to injury.

For most of the second half of the season, Lauko was out of commission — put on the shelf after suffering an MCL injury less than a minute into the 2019 World Junior Championships. He did not return to game action until March, skating in four more contests before the AHL season came to a premature end.

The transition from junior to pro is a daunting one for any promising hockey talent, one that, in Lauko's case, was exacerbated by the fact that those on-ice learning moments were dashed due to his extended time off.

Fair to say, Lauko was in desperate need of a clean slate — which, in 2020-21, was not guaranteed, given the the uncertainty surrounding whether or not an AHL season would even be held this year.

So, in order to hit the reset button and build some momentum following a year marred by injury, Lauko went back home last fall and played for HC Karlovy Vary in the Czech Extraliga, recording 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 25 games overseas.

Shaking off the rust after such an extended time off certainly seems to have paid off for Lauko, as the 20-year-old winger has forged a fresh, new start for himself in North America — and is promptly dominating in his second go-around with the Baby B's in 2021.