Sam Jardine: 2011 Draft Prospect Profile

The later rounds of the NHL draft often feature a number of names you haven't heard before.  In my recent mock draft of rounds 3-7 I tried to put a light on some players who the Devils might be interested in with those late round picks.  Often times these picks don't pan out, but everytime you see a Mark Fayne (5th round pick) make an impact in the NHL you realize that there are diamonds in the rough available.  To find them, teams sometimes draft outside of the comfort zone of the main sources of draft picks (CHL, NCAA commitments, European Elite Leagues) and look to other leagues for players. 

In Canada, besides the main three Canadian Major Junior Leagues, there are other leagues that have prospects who might be drafted.  The Tier A Junior Leagues, specifically the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) and the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League), are not league names you hear of that often but they do have a number of talented players who are eligible to be drafted.  The AJHL  is a Tier A league in Western Canada that has produced NHLers Dany Heatley, Curtis Glencross, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.  (It is also where current Devils prospect Derek Rodwell played before he began his college career at the University of North Dakota.) 

While a team isn't usually expecting a Heatley or Glenncross in the 6th or 7th round of an NHL Draft they do look for players who might have been overlooked and who they can watch develop over the next few years.  

In this In Lou We Trust Prospect Profile we learn about one of the players likely to be picked late in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft:  Defenseman Sam Jardine of the Camrose Kodiaks.  Let's learn more about Sam after the jump.

Sam Jardine Career Statistics:

Who Is Sam Jardine?

Jardine is a 6'0", 185 pound defenseman who played the 2010-2011 season for the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.   Committed to playing at The Ohio State University this fall (with fellow Devils prospect Curtis Gedig) Jardine is described by the Buckeyes as a 'offensive defenseman'. With a August 1993 birthday, Jardine is younger than most potential draftees in 2011.  Further, his committment to Ohio State allows the team drafting him to let him develop in the CCHA (or whatever division it ends up being in a few years) as he matures.   He should get plenty of ice time on a struggling Ohio State squad that lost three defensemen to graduation.

His stats don't jump off the page at you, but the AJHL isn't a high scoring league like the OHL or the QMJHL.  Jardine was the highest scoring rookie on the Kodiaks last season with 6 goals (3 on the PP) and 22 points in 50 games (4th overall defenseman).  Also, in November Jardine joined the U-19 Canada West Team in the World Junior A Tournament.   One of the younger players on the squad Jardine added an assist in the 5 games Canada West played. During the AJHL postseason he led all Kodiak defensemen in scoring during the playoffs with 4 goals and 11 points in 23 games.  His performance in the RBC Cup earned him first team RBC honors.  

After being named to the CSS Watch List back in the fall (where he was projected to go in the mid rounds of the draft), he was ranked 205 in the mid-term rankings.  Unranked in the final CSS rankings, he hasn't exactly wowed the scouts but it's still possible that he is drafted in the late rounds of the draft.

Video

There is not much video out there that shows Jardine in action, so this video is for you pugilist fans.

What Experts Have Said About Jardine

Andrew Choquette of TheScoutingReport.org praised his defensive efforts/development in a profile here.

Defensively, his game improved a lot throughout the season. You could see as the season progressed, he would give good support for his defensive partner. He also worked well down low with his support and clearing out the front of the net. 

At the start of the season, he would try to match the speed of some forwards that got him burned a couple of times. He would also pick out that he got wandering a bit in his own zone, which made him prone to being out of position. Having good anticipation allowed him to step up at the right time and keep the play alive or force turnovers or poor decisions for the other team. His play 1 on 1 was impressive and he was sound on his feet.

TheScoutingReport.Org also had brief summaries of two games they watched of Jardine's here.

 His coach Boris Rybalka in an radio interview with 'The Pipeline Show' said this about his defenseman:

I look at his potential and what a complete player he is.  He has a lot of things you can't teach.  He's smart. 

This is a snippet, but if you listen to the interview it's referenced that the coach thinks Jardine has the potential to be a better player than former Chicago 1st Round Pick Dylan Olsen.

HockeyProspectus was not impressed by his numbers last year in the AJHL:

My call: I've seen Jardine billed as a two-way guy, but those offensive numbers aren't all that good.

Audio

'The Pipeline Show' had an interview in October with Jardine here

You can listen to the full audio but here are some of the points I picked up:

On Type of Defenseman he is: Offensive minded defenseman that's very reliable defensively.

On some of his better attributes:  Moving the puck on the power play with a good point shot. 

On Choosing Ohio State:  Thought he would develop the best because of the coaching staff and the winning tradition the coaching staff brings to Ohio State. 

On Physical Play: When the time is right he will use his body but would prefer to use speed and angling.

Note that it was interesting to read that Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki was referred to as a 'defenseman guru'.  This bodes well for Jardine's future as well as the future for Devils defensive prospect Curtis Gedig.

An Opinion

It would seem, based upon the views of him in the fall that Jardine has dropped a lot in scout's minds.  My concerns with Jardine would be that he appears to be an average skater, especially if he had troubles against the forwards in the AJHL.  Based upon The Scouting Reports views of him it seems he improved his defensive play over the course of the season which is great, and should set him up well for his time at Ohio State.  Still, the skating concerns me and he will need to improve upon his positioning/angling to succeed in the CCHA. 

Skating aside, the praise of his Camrose coach Boris Rybalka speaks volumes to me.  I like hearing that a player is smart as that may allow him to adapt and make up for other deficiencies in his game.  Indeed, a comparison to a player drafted in the first round is high praise and should not be taken lightly.  Taking Rybalka's comments into account and seeing how Jardine will be with the 'defensive guru' for the next four years gives one hope that he can become a top notch CCHA defenseman.  With Ohio State's current roster he is sure to get plenty of opportunity.

Should the Devils draft him?  Possibly, as a sixth or seventh round pick, preferably the seventh.  Since Jardine has fallen off the radar in some scouting circles he may go undrafted, so there is no reason for a team like the Devils to reach for him too early.  That said, the Devils have a recent history of drafting defensemen from the Tier A leagues (Corbin McPherson, Gedig) so I wouldn't rule them looking to the AJHL or the BCHL for a late round pick.  Could Jardine be that pick?  While on the smaller side (compared to recent Devils defensive draftees), he could be worth a pick as he adds depth to a skill-set that every team needs. 

Your Opinion

Now that you've read all of this on Jardine, what do you think of him as a prospect.?  Would you mind if the Devils drafted him in the sixth or seventh round, and then follow his progress at Ohio State? Does his slide down the CSS Rankings give you the impression that he won't be drafted?  Have you seen him play? If you have seen Jardine play then please share your view of him in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

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