Following Portland Winterhawks forward Seth Jarvis in the 12th spot in our Community Draft Board, is Jake Sanderson at lucky number 13. A left-handed defenseman coming from the U.S. National Development Program, Sanderson is often regarded as the safest pick a team could make in this year’s entry draft. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound skater is labelled as a two-way player, but his defense is the main ability that has been lauded among scouts and draft experts alike.
Due to the focus of Sanderson’s game, there are always those that are suspect to his potential to blossom into a top player in the NHL. While some have him going in the top-5 during next week’s event, others suggest that there are over 15 players that should be selected before the American blueliner.
If, by chance, the Philadelphia Flyers have the option to take Sanderson with their 23rd-overall pick, you might hear audible laughs from Chuck Fletcher’s Zoom call.
BSH 2020 Community Draft Board, No. 13: Jake Sanderson
Team: U.S. National U18 Team
Statistics: 7g, 22a in 47 games
No. 4 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 12 by Future Considerations
No. 11 by ISS Hockey
No. 17 by Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
Instantly, the first thing that lets Sanderson stand out among the crop of draft-eligible players, is his skating ability. It’s not the straight-ahead speed that wows viewers, but his capability to shake off opposing players in the offensive zone, walk the blue line, and stay agile to create offense, are just some ways that his skating is a major asset.
Sanderson was the best defender I saw this season among draft-eligible players and arguably among all NHL prospects. His gap play is elite...Sanderson’s value will be on the defensive side of the ice more than offense. Using his skating and his frame he makes a lot of stops. — Corey Pronman, The Athletic
While his skating can conjure goal-scoring opportunities, it also assists Sanderson in his defensive game. Described as the best pure defender in this draft class among some draft experts, the potential to become one of the top suppressors in the NHL, is there.
What’s not to like?
Even if Sanderson can skate his way around an offensive zone, his ability to create scoring chances another way is certainly worrisome. It won’t make the rounds in .gif form on Twitter and won’t drop any jaws anytime soon.
A team might not be able to afford spending its first-round selection on a player that lacks that top-tier offensive potential. Sanderson isn’t a player that fans get instantly excited for, but the likelihood of him making the NHL and playing simple, effective hockey, is high.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Flyers’ blue line is forever in flux. Never stable or predictable, Philadelphia would embrace the potential steady presence of Sanderson. This team is certainly a missing a true shutdown defenseman — and not that kind of shutdown defenseman that means getting hemmed in your own zone and blocking some shots.
While the left side of the Flyers’ defense is crowded with the likes of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere sharing the same handedness as Sanderson, the possibility to have the young defenseman would warrant some movement.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
Knowing how NHL teams love to dream of drafting their next top-pairing defenseman that can play on both the powerplay and penalty kill, I would be shocked if Sanderson drops out of the top-15. Sitting with the 23rd-overall pick, the Flyers most likely won’t get the chance to select the American defender, unless they have a desire to trade up into that first half of the draft.
2020 BSH Community Draft Board
- Alexis Lafreniere — LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
- Quinton Byfield — C, Sudbury (OHL)
- Marco Rossi — C, Ottawa (OHL)
- Tim Stützle — LW/C, Manheim (DEL)
- Cole Perfetti — LW/C, Saginaw (OHL)
- Lucas Raymond — RW, Frölunda (SHL)
- Jamie Drysdale — D, Erie (OHL)
- Alexander Holtz — LW/RW, Djurgardens (SHL)
- Yaroslav Askarov — G, SKA (KHL)
- Anton Lundell — C, HIFK (Liiga)
- Connor Zary — C, Kamloops (WHL)