Czech 2002 prospects: Jakub Langhammer

By Robert Neuhauser
All Kladno fans are worrying now about their team being relegated to the Div I league and
in some way the NHL teams should worry, too. Because Kladno and Litvinov are the biggest
Czech producers of NHL talent. Among those risen in Kladno you can see the likes of
Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias or Tomas Kaberle. Also this season the coach Jaromir Sindel’s
roster boasted young promising prospects like Tomas Plekanec or undrafted gem Miloslav Horava.
But now with the team being relegated it’s almost sure that all the top prospects will leave.
One talented forward with NHL upside left Kladno already one year ago. The story is about
Jakub Langhammer.

Jakub Langhammer started playing hockey when he was only four years old. The major factor
for the beginning of his career were both his parents. They wanted their little son to
be active during his free time and do some sport. And because hockey has a long-time
tradition in Kladno, they brought him to the hockey rink. The little Jakub soon called the
arena his new home. He learned how to skate in record time and was ready to jump in and
play pre-novice games. Coach Jiri Resatko immediately recognised that he has a kid with
a tremendous hockey talent in front of him. Jakub was very eager to have the puck on his
stick and seemed to always make the right decision. He wasn’t a pure sniper, Jakub
was more tending to a playmaking role. Thanks to his natural gift he could prepare lots of
quality chances for his teammates and also score some goals of his own. Now wonder that
he soon became a major leader of the Kladno 1984 born kids team and began to cope with the
captain’s role and duties. Captain Langhammer led his team in many youth tournaments and
quite frequently he went with a trophy or award home. In the beginnings of his hockey career
Jakub won lots of trophies for the Best passer or even the Best scorer award at many
tournaments. As he grew in age, he also became aware of how is strength important in hockey
and began to be very dedicated to doing off-ice workouts. This payed its dividends soon and
Jakub wasn’t only distributing the pucks smoothly, but once he had it on his tape, he
was almost unable to get knocked off it. Czech hockey legend and current Los Angeles Kings’
scout Vaclav Nedomansky also influenced Jakub’s career indirectly a bit. He played with
the number 14 on his back and because Jakub’s mother liked Nedomansky very much, also her
son started to wear the number 14.

He had really an outstanding season for the Kladno 6th grade team and slowly began to be
considered as a kid who could turn into a future elite player. He contributed to this label
also in the next seasons, when he played under coach Vladimir Evan for the older grades.
He had one more label, his nickname ‘Lanyz’ (read La-nee-zh), which comes from a rare sort
of mushrooms. Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Robert Lang has the same nickname, but Jakub
Langahmmer began to be called Lanyz by coach Lidicky when he was a small kid.
His play for the 7th and 8th grade was also stellar, so during the 1998-99 season, when he
was captaining the 9th grade team of Kladno, he was already scouted by future Under-16
team coaches Bretislav Kopriva and Pavel Marek. In spring of 1999 Jakub received an invitation
to the major selection tournament, where he was performing for the Middle Bohemia team.
His elusive moves and smooth puckhandling were joined by a great two-way play, so Jakub
turned out to be a lock on the roster of the 1999-2000 Czech Under-16 team.

In the fall of 1999 Jakub also started his showing in his rookie season in the midget
Extraleague. He soon fought out a regular spot on the roster and was seeing quite a lot of
ice time. With his skills his role on the team saw a steady rise so coming the end of the
season the rookie Langhammer was already one of the leaders of the Kladno midgets. At
the end of the season Jakub stopped at 49 games played, in which he lit the lamp 13 times and
added 21 more assists for a total of 34 points. He also posted a modest numbers of PIMs with
Jakub’s season with the Under-16 team was point-wise his best international career so far.
He didn’t perform at the first tournament, a three-game series against Slovakia, but was
red-hot during his international debut in a three-game series against Russia’s Under-16 team.
With 4 goals scored he scored nearly the half of the Czech goals and was the clear Czech
scoring champion. This effort of course earned him an invitation for the major tourney, the
Four Nations Tournament in Angerholm, Sweden. Also there he had an impressive showing with
his scoring touch and hockey sense. He shared he Czech goalscoring title with Petr Kanko
and Josef Vavra at a tournament which turned out to be a Czech win. All three forwards
scored a pair of goals.

In the 2000-2001 season there was a big change for Jakub Langhammer. After playing the first
two games of the regular season for the Kladno midgets, he accepted the Sparta Praha offer
and went on to play for the Sparta Praha’s midgets. Sparta is always one of the best Czech
teams, with lots of fans and haters and it’s often a prestigeous thing to play for Sparta.
This was also Jakub’s point of view. Also after transiting from Kladno and getting used
to the new system and teammates, Jakub began to prove his undoubted talent. He showed up
every game in the coach Karel Najman’s offensive rotation and earned a reputation as one
of the top two-way forwards in the whole Czech Republic. With the Sparta Praha midgets Jakub
skated 23 games and notched 33 points for 13 goals and 20 assists. As the season progressed,
he was promoted to the Sparta’s junior team. During the regular season he saw a little
ice time, often on the third or fourth line, but was benched for the whole playoffs. This
affected also his stats with the juniors. He played 18 games there, scoring 1 goal and
1 assist for a total of 2 points plus 2 PIMs.

The durable Jakub Langhammer held one record of the Czech Under-17 team in 2000-2001. He
was the only player to play the complete schedule, appearing in 25 international contests.
In a three-game series against the Finns he scored two goals and the same feat he accomplished
at the last tournament of the season, a three-game series against the Germans. So Jakub
had his 2000-2001 international season finished with 4 goals and 5 assists for a total of
9 points and 10 PIMs. Not a very pleasant fact was the thing that he boasted he second-worst +/-
on the team with a -5.

This year he could count on an increased role with the Sparta Praha juniors. Because the
senior team gives minimum of callups and ice time to their own prospects, Jakub had to
battle hard for a spot on the top two lines. He averaged a rookie’s ice time but was slotted
as a sophomore. Jakub’s favorite linemate is his Under-18 team teammate, smallish swift skating
Roman Vondracek. This year were the Sparta Praha juniors eliminated in the semifinals by the
Pardubice juniors and Jakub Langhammer played 49 games. His effort of 12 goals and 12 assists
was good for 24 points while racking up 20 PIMs. This can easily be his last season in Czech
hockey for a long time. Jakub is eager to come over to play in the CHL next season and
is awaiting the CHL Import Draft.

And what type of player will be coming over? Jakub Langhammer is a forward blessed with
excellent size, at 6’2”, 192 lbs. the right-shooting Jakub posesses a huge frame. He just
needs to learn how to use his body more, intensity and aggresivness can still be counted
to his drawbacks, along with his just average skating and not very fast acceleration. But
Jakub has lots of upside to go along with his natural hockey talent. He sees the ice extremly
well and has an uncanny ability to find always the open man. He handles the puck very
smoothly and is capable of making very smart, accurate tape-on-tape passes. Jakub has also
a very good wrist shot and an above-average slapper. He likes to have the puck on his stick
and can deke the opposing defensemen in many ways.
As a bonus there is Jakub’s huge
defensive awareness, which allows him to plays his smart two-way game. He also battles a lot
for the pucks in the corners and then likes to distribute them to his linemates.

On the international stage Jakub seems to bounce back from an average season last year and
plays a very good two-way game. Almost a lock to make the Czech Under-18 WJC team, Jakub
participated at all tournaments of the season again. He had a good showing at the Six Nations
Tournament in August and the Five Nations Tournament in Russia two months ago. At the Viking
Cup Jakub left another solid performance, however he finished scoreless and the penalty box
he visited only when he served a penalty for goalie Lukas Mensator. This week is Jakub
participating at the Czech Under-18 team’s pre-WJC camp.

Jakub can’t be seen as a very
superstitious player, the only thing he regularly does before every game is the same
Besides the necessary relaxing Jakub Langhammer likes to do many other activities in his
free time. He has many favorite sports, among the most favorite are biking trips, playing
tennis or soccer with his friends. When he is taking a rest, then he either sleeps or listens
to songs of his beloved music group U2. Another of his ‘passive activities’ is watching TV
movies, where the ‘Leon’ with action movie hero Jean-Claude Van Damme is the movie he likes
From the food side, Jakub is aware that his eating
habits must concede with a young athlete’s needs and eats a lot of food with chicken meat and
fruit. But he isn’t that strict on this side, he also likes sweets very much.
Jakub is quite a close follower of the NHL. He is interested in all the news and is a
Vancouver Canucks fan. He was supporting them a lot when they battled the New York Rangers
for the
Stanley Cup in 1994 and lost in a tough seven-game battle. Since that time he cheers for
the team from British Columbia. But his hockey hero doesn’t hail from the Canucks team. Jakub
admires the ‘Finnish flash’ Teemu Selanne from the San Jose Sharks because of his style
of play. One day he would like to play like Selanne. But these days he doesn’t worry
about if he will play for the Canucks or Sharks. He is looking forward to the NHL Entry
Draft and will be happy whatever team will pick him. Jakub Langhammer is currently ranked
33rd among European skaters according to the CSB mid-term rankings and has a good chance to
be drafted. A good showing at the Under-18 WJC will only boost his chances. Good luck!