Seth Jarvis’ rookie season with the Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t have gone better.
The then 19-year old wasn’t even anticipated to break onto the roster coming into the season, but after a spirited effort through training camp and the preseason, he was still in Carolina come Game 1 of the regular season. He didn’t suit up in the first 8 games of the season, but once an injury to Nino Niederreiter opened up a roster spot, Jarvis was a mainstay.
The Manitoba native finished off that regular season with 17 goals and 40 points in 68 games and followed that up with a strong postseason, potting three goals and eight points in 14 games before being knocked out by Jacob Trouba in the Hurricanes’ final game of the season.
This season, however, wasn’t as fruitful for the young forward.
Compared to his first season, Jarvis finished this year with a lower goal (14) and point (39) total despite playing in 12 more games in his second professional season. According to the forward, part of that difficulty came from the the learning curve from both himself and his opponents.
“It’s been a lot different,” Jarvis said back in January, on the heels of a six-game goalless drought and having scored just once in his last 18. “I think the biggest thing is that teams have a better idea of what kind of player I am and I think that kind of makes it tough because last year I was kind of unknown and nobody really knew what I was bringing to the table or what I could kind of do, so it made it a little bit easier to fly under the radar and not get targeted as much.
“I feel like this year – and not that I’m getting targeted, because we’ve got guys like Necas, Svechnikov, Aho and all those guys –but they have a better understanding of what I do and how to play against me. So it’s more been about adapting. I’ve found some ways to get around it and in other ways I’m still looking for ways to get around it.”
While some young players may shy away in the face of that adversity, instead choosing to cheat the game in other areas, that’s not what Jarvis did.
In response to the challenges he was facing, Jarvis started working with the team and staff to restructure his game to better adapt to the adjustments other teams had made for him.
“A big part of the changes are away from the puck,” Jarvis said before Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils, now the third leading scorer on the team. “I think another one is just the physicality. That’s something that I’ve tried to bring every playoffs and I think I’ve got to move it into my regular season game, but I think the physicality has helped me a lot. Whether it’s separating pucks or just really being engaged in battles. It opens up ice for not only myself but for our great players to make plays.”
In regards to both areas, Jarvis has seen his game grow significantly into where it currently is.
Defensively, Jarvis has been one of Carolina’s most reliable forwards according to the analytics.
Due to his time on the top line, he gets tougher assignments, but he’s handled them exceptionally well and has been an excellent driver of play in both ends.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Jarvis controlled a 58.92 CF% and had the fifth lowest goal against per 60 among Hurricanes forwards.
He has great speed and is able to utilize it to kill plays in conjunction with his awareness and anticipation. Jarvis’ stick work, which is a penchant for all players within Carolina’s systems, is also a sight to behold.
Another portion of his defensive game can be seen now with the trust that the coaching staff has put on him with a spot on the penalty kill.
Jarvis wanted to make a difference in all situations, and after begging assistant coach and the one in charge of the penalty kill, Tim Gleason, all season, he finally started to earn some time.
“I was a little scared to go up to Roddy and beg, but I love giving it to [Gleason],” Jarvis said. “I sat in all the meetings all year because I knew I was like fifth on the depth chart, so maybe I’ll get in at one point and then I happened to. I just wanted to be ready. A lot goes into it. It’s tough because you watch all the video and it seems so easy on video, but then you get thrown into a game and everything goes out the window. I didn’t want to go in there and mess up and get taken off right away. As long as I’m being responsible, I think they have confidence in my play.”
In nearly 10 minutes of shorthanded ice time this postseason, Jarvis has done exceptionally well and even has a +1 goal differential after he scored a shorthanded goal in Game 3 against the Devils.
“You’ve got to earn getting out there more in special situations and you have to want to keep building as a player,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “You have to be willing to do that and be receptive and take it in and actually utilize it. I think he’s doing that. He’s a young kid and there’s a lot of room to grow.”
In terms of the other area of growth, physicality, Jarvis currently leads all Hurricanes skaters in hits this postseason with 37. Despite being 5’10”, he loves to bang bodies and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the corners.
“I think I’ve had that physicality for a long time,” Jarvis said. “Especially when I was younger because I wasn’t quite as small as everybody, so I think it stood out a little bit more then. In juniors, it kind of changed into more of an offensive physicality. Here, I think a lot of it has to do with the energy. It’s just something that you see a lot of the really, really good small players in the league. They handle physicality really well. Marchand and those types of guys, they know what to do with their body and how to be effective. That’s something that I try to take from those guys to help with my game.”
I then followed up with Jarvis:— Ryan Henkel (@RyanHenkel_) May 4, 2023
"I was all over everybody to follow my lead. They’re trying to take my belt away from me. I don’t know if I have the crown right now, but I’ve gotta get some more hits next game.”
For reference, Jarvis is now tied with Skjei for hits with 22.
But more than anything else, the Hurricanes have needed Jarvis to contribute offensively, especially with the injuries up front.
With the losses of Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty, the top guys knew the pressure on them was going to increase, but when Teuvo Teravainen became unavailable as well, it had to have almost felt ridiculous.
But in spite of that, Jarvis has flourished when the team has needed him most, with four goals and eight points in 10 games this postseason.
“I think you see that a lot of the best goal scorers are able to kind of get lost in the offensive zone and kind of jump into a hole and stuff like that, so I’ve been working with Sergei Samsonov and the team a lot on video and stuff like that,” Jarvis said. “Just finding ways to almost reinvent my game and add those different layers and not just be a guy that skates 100mph down the side and just drives to the net every time.”
Jarvis’ scoring touch couldn’t have come at a better moment for his team, as he and Aho have combined to lead a difference making top line for the Hurricanes.
He’s scoring in multiple different ways, from finding the soft spot on a 5-on-3 against the New York Islanders in Round 1, to multiple breakaway goals that he’s had no problem burying.
He’s also facilitating offense through a tenacious forecheck. He uses his speed to get in deep and fast on opposing defenses and he’s been able to win a lot of those down low puck battles.
“I went through some tough stretches this year, but it was all to prepare for this and prepare to make an impact in this time of year because this is when it matters most,” Jarvis said. “I think the staff has done a really good job with me. For me, on a personal side, just being able to find my confidence again. It’s tough sometimes to maintain it all the time, I think I’ve gotten into a pretty good groove of doing what I need to do to make an impact out there and not hold myself back.”
It hasn’t just been the development of his stick handling, defensive awareness and other various on-ice tools that has helped Jarvis become a better player either. A big growth factor for him has been the maturity that comes with any young man gaining more life experience, spurred on by the culture that’s been cultivated in the locker room.
“They like to make fun of me, but I think it’s all out of love,” Jarvis said on his teammates. “I hope so. I hope they don’t actually hate me.”
“Nothing but love,” Aho shouted from the stall adjacent to Jarvis’.
“It helps,” Jarvis continued. “It makes it a lot easier for a young guy like myself to come in here and just have success and to feel comfortable in an environment like this. I got more comfortable with who I am as a person as I got older. Before, I was just loud and everyone just thought I was annoying, they probably still think I’m annoying, but I think I’m a little more comfortable in my own skin. It only helps me in life and on the ice, being who I am. It helps me confidence wise.”
A confident player is just what the Hurricanes have needed, and it’s clear that Seth Jarvis has been exactly what they’ve needed.