One year after taking left-handed defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk in the seventh round, Ron Hextall picked another overage blue liner who is committed to play in the NCAA in the NHL Entry Draft. With the 112th overall selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers took Jack St. Ivany, a right-handed rearguard who is committed to Yale University for the upcoming season. After he was overlooked in the 2017 draft, DraftSite projected the 6’3”, 198-pound St. Ivany to land 119th overall, which is in the same general area the Orange and Black snagged him. Playing in all three phases of the game and seeing a lot of ice time in each situation, St. Ivany’s improvement this season is well documented and most likely led to him being taken by the Flyers.
After he had one goal and nine helpers in 52 contests for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL during the 2016-17 campaign, the California native returned to the team as an alternate captain this season and improved his totals to six goals and 30 assists in 54 tilts. In Sioux Falls’ 3-game series against the Lincoln Stars in the postseason, St. Ivany totaled one goal, two assists, four shots on goal, and two PIMs. These numbers helped him to be named a USHL Third Team All-Star and earn Defenseman of the Week honors back in February, as he had one goal and three assists in three games from the sixth to the tenth.
When you dig a little deeper into his numbers, St. Ivany did pretty well among all USHL defensemen in 2017-18, regardless of age. Among 180 d-men in the USHL this season, St. Ivany finished second with 25 primary points and 19 primary assists, 13th with six goals, and 15th with 101 shots on goal in all situations. The Flyers’ pick was one of 15 USHL blue liners to record 100 shots on goal or more this past season.
At 5-on-5 among the same field, St. Ivany finished tied for 21st with three goals, tied for eighth with eight primary assists, tied for ninth with 19 points, and tied for 10th with 11 primary points. Of the 112 USHL defensemen that entered the season over 18 years old, St. Ivany finished 12th with six goals (tied for 19th with three 5-on-5 goals), second with 19 primary assists (tied for sixth with eight 5-on-5 primary assists), and second with 25 primary points (tied for ninth with 11 5-on-5 primary points).
As for his playing style, the American rearguard may be a bigger player, but he can move very well and has room to improve in terms of using his size as an advantage in physical situations. Via Hockey Prospect’s Black Book on St. Ivany, which Kyle referenced on the day he was drafted:
“Defensively St. Ivany uses his reach and active stick to take away time from his opponent and does a good job challenging plays at his own blue line and closing players off to the outside against the rush. Jack needs to add more grit and physicality and make things harder on opponents in front of his own net and in puck battles as he has been susceptive to losing battles. St. Ivany distributes the puck well on break outs and is able to stretch the ice using his vision and passing ability. He possesses good puck skills and is able to carry the puck up ice and through traffic when the situation calls for it. St. Ivany can run the Power Play at the point efficiently.”
To go along with Hockey Prospect’s breakdown of the d-man, The Draft Analyst’s Steve Kournianos analyzed St. Ivany’s play back in the 2016 after the USHL Top Prospects Game. Despite it being a few years ago, Kournianos paints the picture of a typical Hextall pick (two-way play, smart decisions/high IQ):
“A Solid two-way defender with size who moves very well and keeps himself engaged at all times. Keeps a tight gap and possesses very good backwards mobility. He is quick to the puck and makes crisp, accurate breakout passes. Owns a very hard slap shot, but gets his wrister off in a hurry. He has an aggressive mindset and looks to line up a shot below the circles. Turned the puck over in the middle of the ice twice on one shift and can fumble around with the puck at times, but has a general understanding of where pressure is coming from. Makes proper reads and times his pinches well.”
As you can see in these highlights (1:35 in the last video), St. Ivany is able to see the ice well and has some potential in the offensive zone. Both of his assists come from his vision in the o zone, as the first one shows his ability to carry the puck through traffic before setting up Nolan Walker with a beautiful pass while the second assist shows his hockey IQ, as he finds an open Alex Steeves in the slot.
With not too many right-handed blue liners in the Flyers’ system, St. Ivany will get every chance possible to make a name for himself. The potential is there and one of his bigger weaknesses (physicality) is something that should be easy to correct given his size. Hextall has found a few diamonds in the rough in the middle rounds of recent drafts. Hopefully St. Ivany is able to groom his game at Yale before seeing how he handles the professional level at Lehigh Valley.