There was a lot of excitement around Jake Wise as he was coming up through the ranks of junior hockey. He was a dominant player and his name was buzzing around the scouting circles. He was seen as one of the very top prosprects in projections for the 2018 draft.
Ultimately, with his NHL selection approaching, the young centre hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations.
Wise has been a good player for the US National Under 18 team, the top development program in United States hockey, but he hasn't impressed like Oliver Wahlstrom or made his mark in the same way as the star of next year's draft, Jack Hughes.
Birthplace: North Andover, Massachusetts
Date of birth: February 28, 2000
Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: U.S National U18 Team
Injuries didn't help Wise’s cause. He broke his collarbone in the second game of the season and only rejoined his team for the last game of 2017, missing a good part of the season. But playing on overdrive to make up for the lost time, he still managed to prove that he should be considered at the top portion of the draft by putting up 43 points in 38 games and showing excellent two-way play.
Wise is best defined as a hard worker. He is a responsible centre who prides himself in his defensive game and can be used against the opposition’s top talent due to his developed awareness of the ice and willingness to battle hard to help his team.
Despite his smaller stature, he continuously imposes himself over opponents due to his relentless nature. He seems built to withstand hard pressure along the boards and he shines by refusing to let any opponent come out of scrums with possession if he can do something about it.
In the offensive zone, Wise knows how to attract defensive pressure and play against it. By doing so, he frees teammates for dangerous shots on net from his passes. He isn't a great playmaker like others in the draft, able to easily manipulate defenders, but his effectiveness is derived from his ability to further his team's cycle and go for the extra effort to create scoring chances.
Jake Wise wears number #12 with the USNTDP.
The goal above came from a great passing play that forced the goalie to move. But it all starts from Wise protecting the puck along the boards against a much larger opponent, escaping with quick steps after getting back on his feet and finding a teammate that the entire opposing team — too focused on watching the young centre — forgot.
Wise also combines this seemingly endless energy with great handling abilities, especially in tight spaces. It’s a tool that allows him to play keep-away after retrieving the puck and create for his team or himself.
And, added to his good hands, the forward has a very impressive shot; a quick and precise release that he can use on the fly. He isn't a frequent shooter (something that he will have to work on), but has shown that he can beat goalies cleanly when feeling confident in his scoring ability and given the occasion in the offensive zone.
The best quality in Wise's game is his naturally great skating ability. He has speed, great acceleration, and is an agile player. He also displays strong balance, keeping his feet planted against heavy pressure and easily recovering from the multiple pushes and cross-checks he receives every game.
Jake Wise, in the numbers tracked as part of Mitch Brown’s project, is a relatively comparable player to Joel Farabee in a lot of categories, despite the latter prospect being ranked much higher on most lists. Wise demonstrates all-around offensive and defensive abilities just like Farabee, the other smaller forward of the US U18 team.
One interesting thing to note is that the centre looks to have more difficulties getting puck across the offensive blue line for his team, while the winger has trouble advancing the play across the defensive blue line.
But perhaps the thing that separates them the most is the shot-attempt measure, a stat in which Farabee more than edges out Wise, pointing to a more threatening offensive game for the winger despite a similar style of play between the two forwards.
Future Considerations: #63
NHL Central Scouting: #38 (North American skaters)
Despite his obvious qualities, Wise hasn't shown enough in his draft year to prove that he can be an impact player for an NHL team, featuring in the top of the lineup every night and putting up numbers.
That being said, it's possible that his work ethic could still lead him there with the years of development he will get at Boston University. Added to that, he is a natural centre and a player any coach will like. He can contribute to the offence and be a trusted player away from the puck. Plus, he has some great tools in his shot and skating ability.
And for this, he is still a very attractive pick.
It's very possible that a team picking in the later half of the first round, one that has been watching Wise closely for years, is seeing in him a player that easily projects to the NHL and, for this reason, chooses to select him with their first selection.
If, instead, the young centre falls, it's an easy bet to make that the Montreal Canadiens, with their need at the position, will be very interested given their multiple second-round picks.