The Montreal Canadiens love to draft athletic prospects, and Jayden Struble fits the profile. He is one of the better skating defenceman in the entire draft: agile as he quickly switches between edges skating up and down the ice and quick off the mark to pinch in the offensive zone. Struble can also pick up speed and rush the puck up. He makes good use of crossovers as he switches direction to slides through the defence.
Birthplace: Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA
Date of birth: August 9th, 2001
Weight: 194 lbs.
Team: St. Sebastien School
Strubel possesses good size and loves to make use of it. He is physical in the defensive zone and protects the puck very well when it’s on his stick. Furthermore, when he turns his back to the opposition, it becomes very hard for him to be poke-checked due to his elusiveness.
Although Struble isn’t as good a stick-handler as he is a skater his hands are good enough to give him offensive potential. He can thread the puck around and through opposing skates or sticks while maneuvering it to reach teammates in the offensive zone.
He is also frequently able to jump up for a shot of his own at the offensive blue line because he keeps his feet moving.
Defensively, Struble has done his best work along the boards and the front of the net, and he could potentially dominate there thanks to his strong skating. That being said, he could also potentially be prone to turnovers and lapses in awareness as he tries to get the puck from the defensive zone to the offence. Another element that Struble will have to work on is his temper. His tendency to retaliate earned him some unnecessary penalty minutes this season.
Struble finished first in a lot of categories at the combine. He topped the bench press, mean power output, standing long jump and grip categories. Some of those tests don’t seem to have much predictive value, but at least standing long jump is a good measurement of explosiveness — which is something that is clearly visible in Struble’s skating ability.
It’s the second year in a row that Montreal picks one of the top performer in testing at the event. Last year, Jack Gorniak, a draft re-entry, was selected in the fourth round of the draft.
Jayden Struble, a defenseman from St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Mass., finished first in 5 of the 18 fitness tests at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas.#NHLCombine Top 25 Results: https://t.co/q1bJc7Y2iC pic.twitter.com/vOKvKx7sIc— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 1, 2019
Just like many high-schoolers making the jump to NCAA hockey, Struble looks to be a four-year project. He will play for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL next season as he prepares for his jump to the college league in two years. The season in Junior A will give him much needed experience of more competitive hockey. Struble is one of the youngest players in the draft and next year should help ease his transition to playing against skaters in their early twenties in 2021-22.
When Struble arrives at Northeastern University, he will join Jordan Harris on the blue line, and the program will the have two of the mobile and puck-moving oriented blue-liners in the Habs prospect pool. Struble is a bit taller than Jordan Harris and is just as good of a skater. That said, Harris’s has more defensive refinement than Struble at this point in time.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Future Considerations: #124
Hockey Prospect: #56
NHL Central Scouting: #48 (NA skaters)
Pronman/The Athletic: #69
Hockey Prospect: “Jayden Struble checks a lot of boxes for us. Struble isn’t overly big but is a very quick and agile defenseman that brings a good amount of strength and physicality. Jayden plays an agitating style that has shown to be highly effective in getting his opponents off of their games.”
Future Considerations: “Already pretty mature physically for his age, he has some great tools, but he’s still a bit raw in terms of his game and his potential.”
Struble has the mobility, competitive edge and puck-moving upside to become an NHL defenceman. The Habs are betting on his visible tools, hoping his maturation and the college hockey environment remove some of the warts and help him hone his skill in puck possession. It won’t happen overnight, but he is worth waiting for.