Once the Nashville Predators announced that Egor Afanasyev was their selection with the 45th pick, many eyes turned towards the Canadiens table trying to figure out whose name would be called next.
With talents of players like Samuel Fagemo, Vladislav Kolyachonok and a couple of Quebec born players; Samuel Bolduc and Nathan Legare left on the board, there was going to be a good prospect added to the draft class and pipeline in general. Then the 6′-0″ 205 lbs, 17-year-old beast Jayden Struble was picked.
The St. Sebastian’s School product will be heading to Northeastern to start his college career. If the name sounds familiar it’s because it is; former Northeastern Huskies standout, Cayden Primeau, a 7th round pick by the Canadiens in the 2017 NHL draft is slated to start 2019-20 season in Laval. Another Habs prospect, Jordan Harris, who was the 3rd round pick in the 2018 NHL draft will be entering his 2nd season with the program. The interesting part is that for a left-handed defenseman Harris plays the majority of his minutes on the right which means we could see an all Habs prospects pairing of Harris and Struble.
Another interesting tidbit is Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan is from Montreal.
One thing that impressed many scouts is his athleticism. He is a talented hockey player with a tremendous skill set that becomes even more pronounced with his athletic capabilities. He grew up playing baseball which adds to the set of multi-sport athletes the organization hoards. His fitness testing at the combine was exceptional. He finished first in many categories such as the wingate test, that measures a player’s anaerobic fitness, the bench press, the grip strength test, long jump and did well in many others. Now the combine isn’t a direct reflection of a players game but it allows the team’s staff to analyze strengths and weakness and in Struble’s case, there aren’t any fitness related issues.
Struble is no slouch on the ice either. Even though he might not be a well-known name, some compare his playing style to Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy. He’s mean, has a good stick and is a great skater. His greatest attributes are his stickhandling skills, his mobility, and his general toughness. He has an all-around package that screams all-situations, a dependable 2-way defenseman with some plus offensive abilities. He also has a certain swagger about his game that allows him to move with confidence.
He is not going to move like Victor Mete who we are spoiled to watch play in Montreal but for a bulky player, he moves really well out there. He also likes to challenge opposing defenders by rushing the puck towards them and face them one-on-one making it uncomfortable. His size and strength allows him to maintain possession of the puck in difficult areas and gives his line-mates time to position themselves in high danger scoring areas. His offensive vision and reading of the game are quite good as well.
He takes long strides which allows him to use less energy and cut the distance from his target. His overall awareness of distance and speed of opposing players allows him to come in at the perfect angle to either stick check the puck, block a pass or engage physically. He really likes to lay the body which is why he often chooses the third option. His aggressive nature helps him more often than not but he is left out of position sometimes which will be an area to he’ll need to improve on. However, it is easier to tone it down rather than to tone it up. He’s just a very motivated player that plays with a ton of energy.
His last two seasons were spent at St. Sebastian’s School in the USHS-Prep (United States High School, Prep) league where he played a combined 58 games and produced and an outstanding 1.2 points-per-game with a total of 70 points. Everywhere he’s played he has produced and the expectation is that he will not only be a well balanced two-way player but will push the pace and contribute on the score sheet. Other than his mobility, he possesses a great attribute of getting pucks on net. While his shot is good he prefers to get the puck on net with accuracy versus power and seems to be getting better at opening lanes with more experience. He’s also good at maintaining the puck in the offensive zone and makes quick passes to keep the pressure. An underrated skill.
Struble’s two-way game will help Northeastern as they will be losing a couple of players who are turning pro such as assistant captain Jeremy Davies who signed with the New Jersey Devils this off-season, then was dealt to Nashville in the P.K. Subban trade. They also lost team captain Eric Williams who will play with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL. Struble will have the opportunity to play in an elevated role similarly to Harris, who went from playing in the USHS-prep to top-pairing minutes with Davies. The Huskies will look to go for a back-to-back championship season by winning the Hockey East divisional title again. They’ll look to defend their back-to-back wins at the Beanpot tournament as well.
You don’t win by losing, you win by winning and Northeastern is a prime program to build a winning attitude.