Reece Scarlett: The Sixth Round Pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2011 NHL Draft

TORONTO CANADA - JANUARY 19: Reece Scarlett #4 of Team Orr clears the puck out of harms way for teammate Liam Liston #33 in a game against Team Cherry in the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Prospects game on January 19 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

With their sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils used the 159th overall pick on defenseman Reece Scarlett of the Swift Current Broncos.   You could say that the Devils got a nice surprise late in the draft with Scarlett falling this far.  According to Central Scouting Service's final rankings in his NHL.com prospect profile page, Scarlett was ranked 57th among North American skaters.  That's a lot higher than the sixth round!

Continuing on from his prospect profile at NHL.com, Scarlett is the first non-American and non-Swede picked by the Devils in this draft as he was born in Edmonton.  He's also a little taller than the other prospects picked today by the Devils as he's officially listed at 6'0" and 164 pounds (to the weight room, Mr. Scarlett).  Lastly, he's also quite young with a March 31, 1993 birthdate.  It'll be interesting to see how he does with a full season with Swift Current at age 18.

Per his stats at the WHL's site, Scarlett isn't what I would call an offensive defenseman.  He only had 6 goals and 18 assists in 72 games with Swift Current last season.  However, this profile by Eldon MacDonald at the Hockey Spy indicated that he had a rough time last season with the Broncos.

Reece Scarlett is a guy I really, really like who, lets face it, had an awful, awful time of it this year. I really like him because he is so fluid with his skating and his long arms seem to reach out to everywhere and he makes some sweet passes up ice. However, this Bronco was on a terrible, terrible Bronco hockey team and got bucked and gored more than a few times. Because the team was so awful, Reece ended up playing half the game including power play, penalty kill and most critical situations. So, Reece who is of slight build anyways ended up getting gassed and being part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Oh, and E-Mac ranked him 89th among his top 120 prospects as further evidence that this was a guy who just fell and fell into New Jersey's lap in the sixth round.   Let's hope Scarlett bulks up, works on his game, and that the rest of his team has a better effort in 2011-12.  

What do you think of the Devils picking Scarlett in the sixth round?  Do you like or dislike this selection, and why? What else have you heard about Scarlett?  I'll be updating this post as I get more information as time permits, but please share your thoughts and answers about this pick in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Reece Scarlett has been noted time and time again over at Bruins 2011 Draft Watch.  Through the six times Luedeke has mentioned Scarlett, it's clear that he underwent a bad draft eligible season.  That would explain why he fell all the way to the sixth round.  Here's what Luedeke had on Scarlett back when the WHL 2010-11 season just got underway.

Swift Current offensive defenseman Reece Scarlett has no points in four games. Now, in fairness to Scarlett, he posted just one goal and 10 points in 65 games last season for the Broncos, so it isn't like he was a slam-dunk to be a major point producer this year. But, he was seen as having a legitimate potential to be a two-way force on the blue line in some circles, and if his mediocre showing in Slovakia was one red flag, then his inability to be much of a threat offensively in the early going is another. This is a classic multi-tools player with the size, skating and puck skills to be more than he's shown thus far, so if he can't start getting some points, you'll see him start to take a fall down the rankings. Red Line Report already dropped him from 15th in August to 24th in September. Ny guess is that he'll be out of the first round in October or close to it at the rate he's going.


Now, the good news is, that a player like Scarlett could become a pretty good value pick in June, so keep an eye on him. He isn't a stiff by any means, but sometimes guys get too much credit for what they show at age 16-17, and the idea is that they'll take that next step at 17-18. When it doesn't happen, the fall can be precipitous, but it doesn't mean the end of the line.

Luedeke nailed it perfectly.  Scarlett's draft stock fell like an anvil dropped by a coyote at the top of a cliff.  Interesting that back in October 2010, it was thought he would be a two-way defenseman.  With the production he put up on a bad team, I'm a little thrown by that notion.  Anyway, back to Scarlett's fall.  By the end of the season, while Luedeke still ranked Scarlett among top available WHL prospects, he slotted him 13th out of 13 draft eligible prospects. Ouch. It was clear that hope for his potential bearing out diminished. Here's what Luedeke had on Scarlett at the end of the WHL season.

13. Reece Scarlett, D Swift Current- The offense didn't come as expected for this very averaged-sized defenseman who is a very good skater and puckhandler. His six goals and 24 points in 72 games for the Broncos helped to drop him down the draft lists after some early season promise, but he could be an interesting longer-term project pick for a team that has the stones to take him in the second round. He makes a nice breakout pass and seems to have the vision and hockey sense to be a legit PMD at the next level. The size is a concern, but he's a smart player who has some raw, projectable upside. If he slips to the third or fourth rounds, it might be an ideal scenario for him, as there will be very little pressure on him to develop and perform. He's a good, solid kid who sticks up for his teammates, but had his hands full on a pretty inexperienced team. Will be interesting to see how he does moving forward.

Devils fans will be happy to see those three letters next to each other associated with Scarlett. However, I wouldn't start penciling him in for any future roster.  As Luedeke directly says, he's a project. While young and promising, he had such a rough season with Swift Bronco that it clearly scared off other teams until late. Who knows if he'll "get it together" with a better team?  He needs to have a better season, as in demonstrating his progress as a player at both ends of the rink.

Lastly, Scarlett did get some international duty with Canada at the World Under-18 Championships. That's good news in that his poor season didn't cause him to be ignored entirely. It means that he's got enough talent to be selected ahead of many other Canadian prospects. Unfortunately, the struggles continued for Scarlett at the tournament and Luedeke deemed him a "faller" in his post-tourney analysis in April:

Reece Scarlett, D CAN- Has showed some impressive traits and potential in flashes, but this was a tough tourney for the WHL defender. He's not where he needs to be in terms of his physical development and strength. He also made some bad pinches and decisions that proved costly. Seemed hesitant at times and was caught in no man's land. Real smooth stride and mobility, but in this game, that split second delayed reaction will burn you even if you skate well. He wasn't quite ready for primetime and opponents exploited him.

Strength can be improved upon.  I've said prior to the jump that Scarlett needs to hit the gym.  That I'm not worried about.  I am worried about the decision making issues.  If he had a bad season in Swift Current, then I'm led to believe that it was an issue for him in the WHL last season.  Maybe he'll be better at it after such experiencing such a rough season?  Let's hope so, otherwise, this project could take much longer and maybe for less than what we're hoping for.

That all said, I can't say I don't like this pick.  He's got enough talent and potential that he was invited to the CHL Top Prospects game, Canada's U-18 team for the World Championships and other tournaments, and that he kept playing a lot for Swift Current.  As Luedeke stated after the WHL season, Scarlett being taken late could be a good thing as to cut down any pressure to perform - and he fell further than even Luedeke suggested.  So this was a good "value" pick for New Jersey by getting a player later than most expected. Regardless, Scarlett just has a lot to work on to get where scouts think he could be.  Fortunately, the Devils will be as patient as possible to allow Scarlett to do just that.

Videos

Want to hear Reece Scarlett talk? Open Ice Hockey has this short interview with the prospect.  Among other things, he agrees that he has to get bigger and stronger.  It was uploaded just over a week ago, though it appears to have taken place around the time of the CHL Top Prospects game.

Scarlett didn't score a lot of goals.  Only 6 last season.  Here's one of them - a power play goal in the midst of a Swift Current rout - in this short clip:

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