Tuesday night was a big night for the Carolina Hurricanes and general manager Don Waddell, as the team drafted Seth Jarvis with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The week won’t slow down from there, with rounds two through seven Wednesday and the opening of free agency on Friday.
Waddell spoke to the media via Zoom Tuesday night about his team’s first pick and what lies ahead, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:
On Seth Jarvis comparing to Brayden Point: I don’t like to compare players at this age, but what he brings to the table, our scouts really liked him. We watched a lot of video; he’s very, very skilled. He makes players around him better. That’s what you look at with these types of picks, especially at the 13th pick, you want to make sure you get not only a highly-skilled player, but you want somebody who can drive a line. We talk about driving a line, and he can do that, obviously. He had big stats last year as a younger player in the Western Hockey League, and we look for him to be a big point-getter as his career continues.
On if Jarvis can play center or wing: I think he can play both positions. You’d like to see if he first can be the center man that you’re looking for offensively. But like we’ve gone through with Martin Necas, it’s easier to come into the league as a winger and then develop into that center position. So he’s played both positions. He’ll more than likely be back in junior next year, and then we’ll talk with their coaching staff, who we know very well, and see where they think he’s best to play.
On what jumped out about Jarvis: I think number one, his hockey sense. We talk about players that have lots of tools but not the tool box. This player, he’s definitely got the mind to think the game and make the plays. His skating is unbelievable, but with that hockey sense, his vision is outstanding. You watch highlights of him, like I said the last time, we’ve had a lot of time to watch him on video. He can beat players with his speed, but he’s also, as soon as you get into attacking at him, he can make that play to an open teammate, the back-door pass, whatever it might be. The vision he showed is extremely great.
On where Jarvis was on the team’s list: We had him in the top 10 for us. You know how drafts go, we all rate players differently. We thought we had the first six or seven players in that order, and then you start getting a few players that every team ranks players differently. But we had Seth very high on our list, and we knew that once Florida took Lundell that we were going to get our guy.
On if there were any thoughts of a trade in the first round: It’s interesting, because up until just a few minutes ago there hadn’t been any trades. I think there were those top seven, eight players, right off the bat, and then the next five or six players, including the goaltender in there, it just depends on what your needs were as a hockey club and how your scouts viewed the player. I don’t think there was a lot of movement around there for that reason. Everybody felt good about that there was a good group of players there, if they were sitting at 16, 18, there wasn’t a reason for them to move up, they were still going to get a good player at that point.
On potentially taking a goalie in the first round: Goaltenders are tough. There’s been some good ones taken early, but goaltenders usually take a little longer to develop. There’s been a few that have come out quickly out of the draft. But usually goaltenders do take a little longer, just because of the position that they play. We had this goalie ranked very high, we thought a lot about him, but you just never know.
On potential NHL-level trades: We talk every day about this. The last couple weeks there’s been a lot of phone calls with different general managers. There just hasn’t been a lot of trades around the league for a couple reasons, the salary cap being number one. The free agent pool is not as deep this year as it has been as it has been in past years, so people are hanging onto their players a little bit more. But the salary cap is probably the No. 1 driver with it being flat and the part about the salary cap and cash that goes along with it. I think it’s on a lot of people’s minds as they’re trying to make their team better or shed players. There’s been players offered around that a year or two years ago might have been attractive to you, but now, in today’s salary cap, they’re hard to fit in.
On possibly moving back into the first round: We’re talking. There’s a couple guys that are still high on our list, and we have two second-round picks. So we’re going to keep following the list here to see what happens in the next couple picks, and I never want to say it’s not a potential situation we might look at, but right now, if we can get through this round, we know we pick 41 and 52 or so tomorrow, so we’ll get a couple more good players in the second round tomorrow.
On the start of next season and training camp: We had an owner’s call and [NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman] gave us the update at that point. Training camp, I believe, will be about normal what it’s been in the past, so they have to fit that in with whatever decision is made. But I think right now, everything’s on let’s wait and see what happens in our country, obviously, with the virus, but we all knew that December was probably too quick to think we could get this up and running again in the league. Now January becomes more of a realistic target date.
On if anyone’s tested positive for COVID since returning from Toronto: Not that I’m aware of. Nobody that I’ve heard about, no.
On the team and league trending towards speed and skill: We like to play, with [Rod Brind’Amour] coaching, we want to play a very fast-paced game. That’s the way our team’s been built, and that’s the way we play. So speed, to me and to Rod, I think is very important if you’re going to play that style of game. The [Eastern Conference] is a little bit more wide open than the West. The West is probably a little bigger and stronger in certain parts of the game, while the East has been built on speed and we feel like that gives us the best chance. We just witnessed Tampa Bay winning the Stanley Cup and I think their team is definitely built on speed. So we’re just trying to get the best players we can.