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Top 25 Sharks Under 25: No. 22 Adam Raska is a wrecking ball

The definition of intensity, Raska is quickly becoming a fan favorite in San Jose.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr (29) and San Jose Sharks right wing Adam Raska (57) battle for position during the NHL game between the San Jose Sharks and the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 22, 2022 at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Photo by Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I haven’t seen a prospect hyped up by San Jose Sharks fans who wasn’t known for his flashy point totals or playmaking ability in a long time, but that’s changed with Adam Raska’s arrival in the organization.

Raska was a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, coming from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rismouski Oceanic. NHL Central Scouting ranked Raska 112th out of North American skaters that year.

The winger began his 2021-22 season in his native Czechia, playing two games with HC Ocelari Trinec, where he was held pointless, before joining HC Frydek-Mistek in the second-tier Czechia league, where he recorded one assist in 11 games. Once Raska came back to Rismouski, he had a much more successful scoring output. He finished third in scoring on the Oceanic with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 23 games — good enough for a points-per-game clip of 1.09. In addition, 16 of his 25 points were primary points (goals and primary assists).

Raska also represented Czechia in at the 2021 World Juniors Championship, recording one assist in four games.

The Sharks were big enough fans of Raska’s game in his first season post-draft that they signed him to an entry-level contract following the conclusion of the QMJHL season. He was invited to the Sharks’ 2021 development camp, and played in the Prospect Scrimmage. I was a big fan of what he brought to the table in that game, scoring two goals in regulation play and playing with a lot of intensity and physicality.

Raska joined the Sharks for training camp, and was one of the final preseason cuts, but he certainly made an impact in the games he played in with his physicality. As such, he began his first professional season with the San Jose Barracuda, mostly playing on the fourth line, before he started to earn the trust of Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer. Not only did he move up in the line-up, but he also started to get minutes on the penalty kill. I found his penalty-killing game most effective when he was paired with the now-exiled Evander Kane, recording two short-handed points.

Though he’s only recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) to this point in the AHL season, his ability to create chaos earned him a call-up to the Sharks in January, and in turn, he made his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 11, 2022.

What We Like

Raska is unique, in that he’s a prospect who isn’t hyped up for his scoring or playmaking. Rather, the best aspect of Raska’s game is his physicality. Bill Placzek of Lines.com (formerly Draftsite) called Raska “one of the hardest worker[s] in the entire QMJHL causing turmoil with his skating ability and willingness to take contact and meet it head on.” Observing Raska’s game against the Shawinigan Cataractes in his draft year, David St-Louis of Elite Prospects noted that “Raska showed once again how much he likes to play with energy, finishing checks and stealing pucks in the neutral zone.”

Another upside to Raska’s game is his passing and ability to set up his teammates. Writing for Dobber Prospects at the time, Josh Tessler noted “[Raska’s] passing is generally accurate and can deliver crisp cross-ice passing.”

Areas of Improvement

It’s generally agreed upon that the area that Raska needs to improve upon the most is his offensive ability. St-Louis noted in another game in Raska’s draft year, this one against the Quebec Remparts, that “Raska’s puck skills and offensive instincts limit his ceiling. He doesn’t always take good routes to support the puck carriers or make himself a good shooting option.” Placzek noted that Raska “doesn’t seem to see or read unraveling action with the clear vision of many forwards who are asked to play in top six roles.”

It’s no secret Raska likes to go for the big hits, but one thing I’ve noticed is that those hits can teeter on the edge of what’s acceptable at times. In addition, Raska weighing in at only 183 pounds may have decreased his draft stock. It wouldn’t hurt for him to put on some weight, especially muscle, which could improve his shot, as well as make his hits more effective.

Highlight

Here, Raska’s cross-ice feeds come into play. He gets around Hampus Lindholm (which is no small feat) and rifles a pass that Jeffrey Viel is able to redirect past John Gibson.