I haven't been making draft lists for all that long, but one thing I've learned is that by the time you get down to the start of the second round, you're always surprised by who's available. Everyone's list is different, and so even though I had Nicklas Jensen at #21 on my list, he was still there staring us in the face when it was time for the Copper and Blue to pick at #31. The scouts don't lie when they say that they had a player much higher on their list than where they took him; they don't need to. After the jump, I'll take a closer took at Jensen, and why I like him at this point in the draft.
Jensen came to the OHL from Denmark this year and posted good numbers, but nothing particularly overwhelming. He scored 69 points in 71 games, which was good enough for fourth on the Oshawa Generals behind Christian Thomas, Andy Andreoff, and fellow draft-eligible Boone Jenner. His relative +/- in the regular season (his +/- compared to the average +/- of the forwards on his team that played at least fifty games) was +4.8, which tells that he wasn't a defensive liability on that team, but he wasn't exactly a dominating force either. At least, not every night.
As with most young players, the primary knock on Jensen seems to be his consistency, which is mentioned by both Mike Kloepfer and Kirk Leudeke, and while I acknowledge that most young players are in fact inconsistent, I can't shake the feeling that "inconsistent" really means "not that good", and "needs to improve consistency" really means "needs to become a better hockey player". After all, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is inconsistent too; he just also happens to be much better.
So what's to like here? Well, the stats mentioned above are good enough that you know he's a quality player, and the toolbox is strong enough that if he improves, he could be a real force. Kloepfer describes him as "one of the most offensively gifted players in the league and Leudeke projects him as a "top-six scoring forward with 30+ goal upside or bust". Obviously, that scouting report is better without the "or bust" tag on it, but at this point in the draft, those don't exist, and my preference when drafting a bit further down the pecking order is to go for the kind of player that's hard to get in free agency, and a 6'3'' "power forward" (that was for Derek) who can score thirty goals is exactly that kind of player. If Nicklas Jensen falls to the Oilers tomorrow morning, I'll be one very happy man.