The NHL is evolving as a league. What was once a league dominated by large physical players is now becoming a league where the skilled reign supreme. Gone are the days of the goon and here are the times of the skilled.
We can see this becoming the case simply by looking at a few of the league’s up and coming stars. Of course, Patrick Kane is the pioneer having scored over 1000pts in his career while standing at just 5’10”. We also have players like Johnney Gaudreau and Alex Debrincat scoring heaps at just 5’9” and 5’7” respectively. All of these players, with the exception of Kane, have slipped late in their respective draft classes due to their short stature. It seems that some GMs simply ignore skill just because the player isn’t 6’3” and I find that absolutely ridiculous.
The Oilers haven’t been victim to this mentality and have shown that they will take a undersized player if he proves to be skilled enough. The perfect example of this is their 2017 first round selection of Kailer Yamamoto. At the time of the selection Yamamoto stood just 5’7” making him the shortest player ever to be selected in the first round. That bet is now paying off some three years later as Yamamoto broke into the league this past season.
The organization will now face yet another opportunity to bet on an undersized, yet extremely skilled, player this October as Seth Jarvis might be on the board when the Oilers step up to pick.
Who Is Seth Jarvis?:
Seth Jarvis is a high-scoring junior centerman playing for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. He finished second in WHL scoring, notching a resounding 98 points in just 58 games (42-56-98). The mark was also good enough for 8th in the entire CHL. A season to remember to say the least, 2019/20 was a breakout year for the small skilled centerman. He more than doubled his offensive output of 39 points in the 2018/19 season. He was named to the WHL Western Conference All-Star team for his efforts.
Jarvis’ game mimics a lot from what we have seen from other undersized skilled forwards in recent memory. What he lacks in size he makes up with tenacity, being an absolute bulldog on the forecheck and not being afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice. He will take a hit to make a play and he has grown to be rather good at winning puck battles.
His work in the offensive zone is elite level stuff. While he might not possess the fastest of strides he is incredibly slippery and can get himself out of tough situations with a combination of great puck control and some creative hands. On his skates he is an agile skater that can manoeuvre around defenders with ease. Jarvis’ shot is nothing to write home about power-wise but the control he has over it is what makes it special. You don’t score 48 goals with a bad shot.
There is also the case of his IQ on the ice. He is an extremely smart hockey player who sees the ice at a professional level. He supplemented his 48 goals with another 58 assists and this is due to his ability to find his teammates and make solid tape to tape passes. He is a well rounded offensive player who can be trusted to generate offence no matter the situation.
Even though much of his accolades focus on his work in the offensive zone, Jarvis is very much a two-way forward that can play in all three zones. His aggressive style of play has helped him earn time on the penalty kill.
Lets take a look at what the experts are saying about him:
Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet): “Right shot centre who took off in the second half. Definitely a player who would’ve benefitted from a playoff run on a young team.”
Mike Morreale (NHL.com): “A smart, skilled player who executes with pace and excels as a penalty-killer. Jarvis creates offense with his vision, quickness and playmaking ability. He was second in the WHL with 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games.”
Cam Robinson (Dobberprospects): “Speedy, creative winger who thrives off of the rush. Was downright dominant in the final 40 games of the WHL season. Converts at a high-level thanks to his IQ and willingness to get greasy. The question is whether he can get to those spots in the NHL at his size.”
Eddy Jones (The Hockey Writers): “ If everything goes right for him, there is 20-plus goal upside and the potential to become a very valuable and versatile player. He’ll need to improve his speed and add physical strength, but he’s proven he has the skill to jump into the NHL.”
Does He Make Sense At 14?:
Jarvis has seen his draft stock skyrocket in the past year. He has become a consensus first round pick, but where he lands exactly is still up for debate. Let’s take a look at where slots in on various rankings:
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 18
Craig Button (TSN): 23
Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet): 19
Cam Robinson (Dobberprospects): 14
It seems as though the majority of experts expect him to go in the later half of the first round. I am inclined to disagree with this notion though. The draft is very much a “what have you done lately” kind of event and I think a lot of teams will look at those 98 points and run away with it. I expect Jarvis to go closer to the 12-15 range than the 18-23 range that these experts are predicting.
He has a high chance of being available to the Oilers at 14 and it would be a smart pick. Small skilled forwards are quickly taking over this league and, given the recent success of Yamamoto, I think the team would be quick to say his name come draft day.
He is a player that makes complete sense at Edmonton’s position.
Potential Fit with Oilers?:
Do you like listening to a broken record? Because I am about to sound like one.
Any forward taken at this position would have to have the potential to be a top 6 forward in the near future. The Oilers are absolutely bare on the wings and they won’t get anywhere without a proper complimentary player for both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Yamamoto and Nugent-Hopkins fill out the second line well with Draisaitl, so the question is whether or not Jarvis is a good option next to McDavid.
On the surface I think Jarvis does. He’s a smart player who sees the ice well and can get in positions to score as well as set up his teammates. These are attributes that are sure to blend well with McDavid’s knack of setting up his linemates and finding open ice in the offensive end. I do have concerns on whether or not Jarvis’ production can transition to the NHL smoothly as it is always difficult for smaller players to get accustomed to a more physical game. As I noted, however, he is a tenacious player who is used to taking hits.
There are a lot of similarities between Jarvis and Yamamoto, as both were seen as small, but fierce, players who could produce offence. I think would benefit the Oilers as they need more high-end wingers who are willing to push the pace on an aggressive forecheck.
I definitely see a niche for Jarvis to succeed on this roster.
Seth Jarvis is a high skilled two-way forward that can generate boatloads of offence. He possess great hands and tremendous vision that makes him a threat every time he enters the offensive zone. I really like this player and I think he has all the potential in the world to develop into a top 6 forward that can string together a few 20+ goal campaigns.
He is poised to be available around Edmonton’s range and the team could not go wrong with selecting him.
What do you think of Jarvis at pick 14?