Now that the Brett Lernout fiasco seems to have run its course, we can shift our focus to another defenceman that I and many others think was given a rough ride by the panelists: Noah Juulsen.
As you can see, the majority of the votes pencilled Juulsen somewhere in the 15-to-20 range. Considering Montreal's lack of depth in the defensive prospect department, this may seem a little harsh. In retrospect, by placing him 14th I also adopted a very conservative approach.
Let's see how he compares to other defencemen selected in the first two rounds of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
|Player||League||Round||GP||G||A1||A2||PPG||ES points||ES P/60||NHLe||TmPt%||eTOI||ES GF|
|Noah Juulsen||WHL||1st (26th)||68||9||22||21||.76||26||1.04||16||23.01||22.4||66%|
|Thomas Chabot||QMJHL||1st (18th)||66||12||17||12||.62||14||2.11||13||20.12||9.51||n/a|
|Jakub Zboril||QMJHL||1st (13th)||44||13||9||11||.75||27||1.67||15||18.39||14.11||n/a|
|Travis Dermott||OHL||2nd (34th)||61||8||19||18||.74||23||1.01||18||15.57||23.86||61%|
|Brandon Carlo||WHL||2nd (37th)||63||4||6||15||.4||13||1.19||8||15.06||20||41%|
|Jeremy Roy||QMJHL||2nd (31st)||46||5||21||17||.93||17||1.8||19||27.74||12.31||n/a|
|Ivan Provorov||WHL||1st (7th)||60||15||17||29||1.02||28||1.27||21||21.55||22.84||63%|
|Vince Dunn||OHL||2nd (56th)||68||18||19||19||.82||29||1.15||20||20.74||23.41||57%|
(All numbers sourced from CHL Stats. A1= primary assist, A2=secondary assist, PPG= points-per-game, ES Points = even-strength points, ES P/60= even-strength points per 60, NHLe = NHL equivalency points, TmPT% = Team points percentage, eTOI = estimated time on ice, ES GF = even-strength goals for)
Juulsen's production was quite respectable, holding up fairly well with the majority of the defencemen selected. Of course, Provorov, who was selected seventh overall, earned more points, but as you can see most of his points come via secondary assists, and his even-strength production was similar to Juulsen's. As an aside, Jeremy Roy's numbers are impressive, which is interesting seeing as he was one of the defencemen many had predicted the Habs would select. It's also worth noting that the estimated time on ice of QMJHL players seems off, so we should take those numbers with a grain of salt. In fact, almost all of these numbers are heavily modified by the strength of the team from which the prospects were drafted, as well as their role within the club.
Unfortunately, we don't have much to go on in terms of statistics when it comes to the defensive play of CHL players, however Juulsen's performance at the World Junior Summer Showcase was a good indication of his defensive awareness. Instead of attempting to score on every play like a lot of his defensive partners, Juulsen played a smart-yet-calculated game, which earned him a lot of praise from coaches and analysts alike.
Did he deserve better?
Once the final results were in, Juulsen tied with Tim Bozon for the 17th spot, with Daniel Carr, Devante Smith-Pelly, Christian Thomas, and Martin Réway ahead of him. I thought he deserved a little better, which is why I ranked Juulsen ahead of all but Réway. Did I fall victim to the "shiny new toy" factor? It very well could be, but as many have pointed out, Juulsen is easily Montreal's third-best defenceman in the Top 25 Under 25, which renders the 17th overall position even more debatable.
This upcoming season will go a long way in determining whether or not Juulsen can keep up his strong play, but don't be surprised if the young defender is one of the biggest risers in next year's ranking.
One thing is for sure, the Habs put their hands on a well-rounded defenceman, which is something they desperately lacked in their prospect pool.
(warning, as per usual in every highlight video, this one contains loud music. Adjust your speakers accordingly)