Last year, the New Jersey Devils took defenseman Steve Santini in the second round. This year, the Devils go back to defense in the second round. With the 41st overall pick, they took defenseman Josh Jacobs of the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Per Elite Prospects, he's 6'2", 184 pounds, and he's committed to go to Michigan State - assuming he doesn't switch to Sarnia of the OHL. Here are his career numbers:
His profile page at EP does have a short blurb on Jacobs.
Jacobs is a smooth skating two-way defenseman. He can grab the puck and skate it up ice or dish a strong stretch pass to a streaking forward. Closes off lanes and is willing to play physical in his zone. Has some mental lapses and many times his game has been hot or cold this season. (November 2013)
That came from early in the season, so it would be good to know whether he was more consistent. Still, being able to skate well and move the puck is quite useful.
Over at the Last Word on Sports, Ben Kerr had plenty of positives in his profile on Jacobs. Presumably, this was written after his season ended with Indiana
Joshua Jacobs is a good-sized defenceman with excellent skating ability. He has a long fluid stride, good top end speed, and explosive acceleration. Jacobs has excellent edgework and very good pivots. He is mobile and can change directions quickly. This allows him to close down space and lay some big hits against on-rushing defenders. His mobility also makes him difficult to beat one-on-one and gives him the ability to join the rush and help the Ice create offensive opportunities.
Jacobs uses his size effectively exploding into big hits and battling hard along the boards and in front of the net, as well as being a willing shot blocker. He does need to work on his positioning, as well curb a habit for giveaways at times, but he is young and raw with excellent potential to grow past those issues going forward.
This is all well and good. While the Devils have a lot of prospective defensemen, keeping a supply of those who can move and move the puck well is always a benefit. Not all of those prospects will turn out. When Jacobs is ready to make the jump to pro hockey, the system won't be loaded on defense. And a defensemen with an offensive game is always welcomed. By itself, Jacobs in the second round isn't a bad pick at all. It's a fine pick.
That being said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in the selection. The Devils could have taken Brayden Point, Vladimir Kamanev, Eric Cornel, or another kind of forward. They had a great opportunity to address their pipeline need at forward and deferred it as with last year. I think I will grow to like Jacobs, as with most fans did with Santini. And if he's the best guy on the scouts' boards, then so be it. but I will wonder "what if" with this high second round pick as the Devils continue to lack young forwards.
Please leave your reaction about the Jacobs pick in the comments. Thank you for reading.