The New Jersey Devils selected Alex Kerfoot (a.k.a. Alexander Kerfoot) with their second fifth round pick, 150th overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. According to his prospect card at NHL.com, Kerfoot is officially listed at 5'10" and 153 pounds, he'll turn 18 in August, he's a left-shooting center, and he just finished his first season with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League. Here are his stats at Elite Prospects:
I recommend going to his profile page at Elite Prospects as you'll learn that in addition to all of those points for Coquitlam, he was named the rookie of year and most sportsmanlike player in the Coastal Conference as well as named to the all-rookie and all-first BCHL teams. The guy definitely stood out in spite of his lack of size. He also stood out in the World Junior A Challenge with an overtime goal over Sweden (here's video of Kerfoot talking to the press after the game) to send Canada West to the finals and a goal and an assist in Canada West's 4-2 win over Canada East (here's another post-game interview with Kerfoot).
The Devils have never been shy about taking a player from a Junior A league if they feel he's got some talent. Well, they thought enough of Kerfoot to take him with their second pick in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Let's learn a little more about Kerfoot after the jump. (Note: This post originally was up at 12:08 PM, it has since been updated.)
Kerfoot certainly did pile up the points for Coquitlam, as he finished third on his team in scoring and 19th in the league. One could argue that he came in and produced so much that he's ready for the next level. However, he's still quite slight - seriously, Alexander, get to a gym - and he's still quite young. Another year in the BCHL may not hurt him too much. In fact, this June article by Dan Olson of the Coquitlam Now states that Kerfoot would be returning. I'd like to see him go up a level either to Seattle of the Western Hockey League or the NCAA, though.
McKeen's had an interview with Kerfoot back at the end of February. Here's a part of that interview, where Kerfoot explains what he thinks is the best part of his game and why he chose Junior A instead of the WHL:
McKeen's: What's the best part of your game, and what are the things you want to work on?
Kerfoot: In the past couple of years I've worked on my skating, I think that it has improved. I think my vision on the ice is my strongest skill. I think that I definitely want to work on my overall core strength, my shot, and I still want to improve a little more on my skating.
McKeen's: What made you choose to play tier 2 junior hockey with the Coquitlam Express, and possibly the NCAA in the future instead of major junior hockey in the WHL, in which your rights are held by the Seattle Thunderbirds?
Kerfoot: Obviously, the WHL might be the quickest way to get to a higher level, but it's not the right thing for everyone, and I didn't think it was the right thing for me. I was a smaller guy growing up, so going this route I think it has allowed me more time to develop. Also, if hockey doesn't work out, I can get a university degree to fall back on.
Again, the Devils may have picked up another forward who can skate well. In this case, Kerfoot says he's got good vision and the 44 assists he has seems to agree with that. Later in the interview, Kerfoot emphasizes the importance of playing defense and that he has to improve in that regard. It's heartening to read a prospect plainly state something they want to work on. Though, I hope he doesn't forget about getting stronger in the process.
Dan Sallows had a more recent interview with Kerfoot prior to the NHL Entry Draft over at Future Considerations. Here's a few bits of that interview, which should give you a further idea about the player:
I’ve seen you numerous times, and have always been impressed with your vision and hockey IQ, what do you see being your best attributes on the ice?
Alex: I think my vision and hockey sense are my best attributes, but my skating has improved quite a bit in the last couple of years, and is now also one of my strengths. That being said, I definitely have to work on my shot and overall strength to succeed at the next level.
Your WHL rights are owned by the Seattle Thunderbirds, and you’ve yet to commit to an NCAA school, is there a chance we will see you in the dub or are you hoping to go the college route, and if so which schools interest you?Alex: At this point I am pretty focused on going the NCAA route. I feel it gives me a little more time to develop as a player, and academics have always been pretty important to me. The three schools that I have visited are Boston College, Yale and Harvard, and they are all great schools, with great hockey programs that I am really interested in.
It appears to me that Kerfoot sounds serious about going to college. I'm not sure when a player has to make a commitment in hockey, so if he does so soon, it may have to wait until the 2013-14. Even if Kerfoot turns around and goes with Seattle, he'll have plenty of time to develop. Again, he was one of the younger players in the draft and the Devils will definitely be patient with a sixth round draft pick. This late in the draft, everyone's taking fliers on everyone, so why not go for the guy with good vision who needs to get big and work on other aspects of his game?
There's actually quite a lot of highlight videos of Coquitlam Express games on Youtube from what appears to be the team's official account. Here's one goal-fest of a game against Nanaimo where you can see Kerfoot (#14) make plays and score a couple goals.
Kerfoot's goal at about 31 seconds into this clip is particularly impressive. Nice hands, kid.
Anyway, this pick reminds me of Curtis Gedig. A late draft pick on a BCHL player who's not even 18 at the time of the draft and will likely stay in the league before going to college. Kerfoot certainly has some offensive skills and it's good to know what he's worked on his skating. The fact he played for Canada West in the WJAC means that someone's paying attention to what he's doing, and I'm hopeful a NCAA college would be interested in his talents. The Devils can let him develop at his own pace, where he can work on his defense, his shot, and most of all, his strength. Seriously, he's got to grow into that body to get to the next level in college or juniors; but he's got time. If he can improve, the Devils can be a little stronger among their current system of forward prospects. It's a good late pick, in my opinion.
That's my take on Alex Kerfoot, now I want to know yours. What do you think of Kerfoot as a prospect? Are you happy the Devils drafted him with their second fifth round pick of the draft? What do you expect from him now that he's in the Devils' system? Where do you think he'll go to college; do you have any preferences? Will it be an issue if he plays another season in the BCHL? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the pick and the player in the comments. Thank you for reading.