Since the inception of the NHL Entry Draft the Habs have picked from the 207th slot, three times. Those three picks gave the Habs, John Westin (2010), Mattia Baldi (1996), and Mark Kettelhut (1990). Not one of those players played professionally in North America at any level. That's not to suggest that the Habs haven't had late round gems drafting in the 7th round - Mark Streit, Sergei Kostitsyn, Michael Ryder, and Jaroslav Halak have all been drafted 200th or later. Let's hope Jake Evans is less of the former and more of the latter.
Evans is a bit of a late round steal, some projections had him going in the 4th or 5th round and there were others that even predicted him going as early as the 3rd round. He certainly wasn't expected to be picked AFTER Niklas Koberstein, but there's all kinds of factors that can scare off teams and drop a player down a few or a lot of slots.
Evans is a 6'0 centre playing for the OJHL's St. Michael's Buzzers with a commitment to go to Notre Dame next season and play for Jeff Jackson (not the former Nordique, but the ex-Guelph Storm coach). He's not an overly big player at 172 pounds and he suffers from lack of consistency at times, so you can see why a few teams might shy away from a guy who will spend the majority of the next four years developing in NCAA program.
There's a lot to like about Jake Evans though. He's still growing, he has above average skating ability, he adapts well to all situations on the ice, and he has great offensive ability.
From Hockey Prospect: Evans has a strong wrist shot with a quick release coming off the half wall on the powerplay that is very effective. Jake is also a good playmaker and uses his vision well to set up teammates with crisp cross ice passes or threads the needle through traffic for backdoor opportunities. He stands up for himself after whistles and is not afraid to use his stick for cross checks or slashes when pushed. Jake can disappear at times when games get to physical and needs to work at bringing a consistent effort every shift. There are some games when he is an absolute game changer while others he looks like he does not even want to be on the ice.
From SBNation College Hockey: Evans, more of a setup guy than a goal scorer, has tremendous ability to see the ice and make smart decisions with the puck. The Toronto, Ontario native played for the highly successful St. Michael's Buzzers in the OJHL and has made a plethora of all-star teams from the midget level on to Junior A.
Evans' style of play fits in nicely at Notre Dame where the Fighting Irish coaching staff will help him develop his game with an eye on the next level. Jackson, a two-time national champion bench boss at Lake Superior, has pro and major junior experience as well, including with the New York Islanders.
Notre Dame's puck possession style fits Evans' game well. He is responsible in all three zones and makes smart decisions with the puck. He also can play a grinding style and muck it up physically.
Evans, who scored 16 goals and 47 assists this past winter for the Buzzers, will likely go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. He is the type of player that should stay in college throughout his four-year career before signing a pro deal. - Jeff Cox
Jake Evans - Buzzers OJHL has sharp offensive instincts and a smooth glide, needs work on phy strength and 1st step quickness— David Burstyn (@DavidBurstyn) December 10, 2013
The Habs had no picks in the top 25 and they had to make a trade to get a second pick in the top 75. There weren't a lot of chances to add immediate impact players and I suspect the only player that will even be closing to cracking the Habs roster in three years is Scherbak. That's not to say that this year's draft yield won't ever play in Montreal, but that it will take some time. Adopting a strategy of targeting long term projects, particularly NCAA commitments, with late round draft picks isn't a bad one especially when coupled with inviting undrafted QMJHL players to their development camp. It's a low risk gamble that might pay off in a big way.
I like aspects of Evans' game and he's the type of player I like to see drafted, a solid offensive centre with good skating ability who is more of a disher than a finisher.
I think the Habs made some divisive picks in this year's draft for sure, but I don't think tabbing Jake Evans at 207th counts as one. I can almost guarantee he has a better career than Mark Kettelhut.
What do you think? Did the Canadiens blow their last pick? Should they have gone after Spencer Watson? Or is Jake Evans the kind of investment you want to see the Habs make?