Unlike a lot of young Canadian hockey players who recognize their potential and enter Junior hockey with a CHL club, Tyson Jost decided to remain in the Junior A ranks this season, leaving the door open for a collegiate career. He will play his freshman season for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks next season, and will take a great deal of confidence with him to the NCAA program thanks to some impressive results from his 2015-16 campaign.
A crucial draft season began with Jost being named to Team Canada for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August of 2015, where he scored three goals in four games on the way to a gold medal. He followed that up with a victory at the World Junior A Challenge in mid-December, scoring a tournament-high nine points for Canada West, including the game-winner in the final, on his was to earning MVP honours.
Birthplace: St. Albert, Alberta
Weight: 192 lbs.
In league play, he more than doubled his production from last year's rookie season with the Penticton Vees, scoring 42 goals and 62 assists for the BCHL club, his 104 points ranking third in the league. His 2.17 points-per-game rate was the best of all players, most of whom were a year or two older. For his great offensive performance, Jost was awarded the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the BCHL's Most Valuable Player, top forward in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League, CJHL MVP, and CJHL National Player of the Year.
After an 11-game post-season in which he added another six goals and eight assists, he was named captain of Canada's entry to the IIHF's Under-18 tournament in April. This time his team wasn't able to replicate the success he had enjoyed in the first half of the season, as Canada fell to the USA in the bronze-medal game. But he did manage to break Connor McDavid's record for points, posting his name on the scoresheet 15 times in seven games.
Jost is an incredible offensive talent, and there are some key reasons for his high production. A strong skating style — from good edgework that leads to high acceleration and rapid change of direction moreso than outright speed — allows him to navigate the offensive zone with ease. He is a hard forechecker, unafraid of going into the corners to find the puck, and he can quickly escape from defenders to get to some open space to set up a play.
Playmaking is where he truly shines. Jost displays excellent vision and awareness, able to find teammates anywhere on the ice with a pass, but is also not shy of firing the puck on goal when he has an opportunity to score. It's tough for defenders to predict what play will be coming when Jost has the puck, and cheating towards blocking a pass can open up a lane for him to fire a quick, accurate snapshot past the goaltender.
Jost is very strong on his backhand, just as proficient at tossing a pass to his left on an offensive rush as he is sending a saucer pass to his right. That makes for a very dangerous offensive player through the middle of the ice, and leaves lots of options for a goaltender to be wary of when he gets in alone.
He puts that ability on the backhand to good use on faceoffs, combining it with a low centre of gravity to win the draw more often than not.
While there's little to dislike about his offensive game, scouts (and he, himself) acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done with regard to his defensive play. With his best chance of becoming an NHLer playing down the middle to conduct the offence, a solid understanding of the play on the other side of the puck will help him have more versatility than just becoming an exploitation forward. That's an area where some time in the NCAA — where preventing goals is more the focus than scoring them — may be the best choice for his development.
The quality of the competition he has faced in this breakout season is also a factor. The BCHL isn't at the same level as the CHL leagues, where many of the top-ranked Canadian prospects put up their draft-year numbers. There are also some scouts who were less than impressed with the quality of talent at the U-18 tournament, casting some doubts on how meaningful his record production truly was.
While Jost was able to show off his offensive instincts this year, he may face more resistance from higher-quality opposition in the NCAA, and have less time to make plays than he's been accustomed to.
Of the 104 points he scored with Penticton, 14 goals and 30 assists came on the power play. While that goes to show how good he can be with open space in an offensive role, only 59 of his points (he scored one short-handed goal) came while playing at equal strength.
Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects (2016)
Tyson Jost is a crafty goal-scorer that carries out plays as quickly as he envisions them. As someone who thinks and plays at a fast tempo, it comes as no surprise that he creates a lot of energy as an offensive catalyst. He sees the ice very well and has the willingness and determination to win battles in the tough areas. All in all, a dynamic offensive forward with top-six potential at the next level.
Future Considerations (November 2015)
A speedy and skilled fleet-of-foot forward who just produces points. An agile and slippery skater who has a low centre of gravity and strong balance which he uses to protect the puck. He is a dangerous playmaker who sees the ice and reads developing lanes quickly. Has a very quick shot that fools goaltenders with its surprisingly hard velocity. Tries to play defensively responsible but still has some lessons to learn in that regard.
Future Considerations: 13th
Central Scouting service: 16th (North American skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 10th
DraftBuzz Hockey: 7th
Bob McKenzie: 11th
The Draft Analyst: 13th
Jost's commitment to NCAA hockey means that he will not be immediately able to jump into the NHL next season (though he's not projected to do so, anyway), and it could be up to four years before he decides to turn professional. For a team hoping the contend for a Stanley Cup in the immediate future, that may not be the best use of a high draft position.
Tyson Jost has a lot of tools you desire in an offensive centre, and he could potentially become a star in the NHL. He is a bit of a project, and will require some additional development time, but he looks to be a good bet for a team that can afford to wait.