Former Rangers defenceman Libor Hajek while playing for HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga.
Photo credit: CTK via iDNES.cz

Former Rangers defenceman Libor Hajek looking to return to the NHL

Published April 29, 2024 at 9:51

While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing, it's never too early to look ahead to free agency, which is just over two months away and for former New York Rangers defenceman Libor Hajek, he's looking to return to North America and more importantly, the National Hockey League.

In his 'Rink Fries' article on Sportsnet, Jeff Marek mentioned that Hajek wants to return next season and that some National Hockey League teams have noticed the strong season he had in Czechia with HC Dynamo Pardubice.

"Starting to hear some buzz around former NHL defenceman Libor Hajek, who left Wilkes-Barre in December to play in the Czech Extraliga this season instead of the AHL." Marek said.

He added, "The UFA defenceman had a great campaign with Pardubice HC and NHL teams have noticed. We'll see what happens after the World Championship where he'll most likely suit up for Czechia. Something to watch out for."

Hajek, 26, became an unrestricted free agent last summer after the New York Rangers opted not to issue him a qualifying offer. He went all summer without any teams offering him a contract before the Pittsburgh Penguins signed him to a professional tryout three weeks before the start of training camp.

The Smrcek, Czechia native was unable to land an NHL contract with the Penguins, but did sign an AHL contract with their affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. After just two months in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hajek decided he wanted to return home to Czechia and signed with HC Dynamo Pardubice for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.

In 20 games with Pardubice, Hajek had nine points (four goals, five assists), 12 penalty minutes and was a plus-15, helping his team to a first-place finish in the regular season standings. He went on to add three assists and ten penalty minutes in 16 playoff games before losing in the finals to HC Ocelari Trinec.

It'll be interesting to see where Libor Hajek ends up next season, but there will be plenty of teams wanting to sign him this summer. Hajek is expected to be on Czechia's roster for the 2024 IIHF World Hockey Championship, which is being held on home ice this year. The World Championship will give Hajek another opportunity to prove to teams that he is capable of playing in the National Hockey League.

Source - Jeff Marek/Sportsnet: Rink Fries: Who could be the next Sharks head coach?
April 29   |   162 answers
Former Rangers defenceman Libor Hajek looking to return to the NHL

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