Breakdown: Nashville Acquires Defender Jérémy Davies
There were no other headline-grabbing parts of this deal. None at all.
Last Saturday, David Poile and the Nashville Predators pulled off a franchise-altering trade that sent star defender P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils for a package including defenders Steven Santini and Jérémy Davies. I won’t litigate the deal here or really even analyze most of it; Santini’s spot on this roster is unclear moving forward. The most intriguing part of the package to me is prospect Jérémy Davies, whose game I will break down below.
By The Numbers
Davies was a seventh-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2016 after two seasons in the USHL, where he totaled 73 points in 114 regular season games. It was his second year of eligibility and clear that not enough scouts were high on his ability to make it to the NHL.
Three seasons later, Davies has put his name on the map with a remarkable run at Northeastern University, where he scored 94 points in 111 games and led the Huskies to their most dominant stretch as a program in recent memory (including back-to-back Beanpot Tournament titles).
In his final campaign at Northeastern, Davies led the team in scoring with eight goals and 36 points in 37 games. He scored four of those goals on the power play and was sixth among all defenders in the country in scoring.
The bread and butter of Davies’s game is how his skating and puck control abilities translate to the transition game. Even if a player is unable to translate elite point production to the next level, becoming a dependable player who can carry the puck from defensive zone turnovers up the ice is a key skill.
Per J.D. Burke of Elite Prospects (@JDylanBurke), Davies excelled at that more than most in the NCAA last season. Burke breaks down Davies’s potential and NHL comparable players further here.
The Scouting Tape
Davies’ Scouting Report
|Fluid skating stride with excellent technique||Sometimes relies too much on anticipating opponents' moves in stead of closing his gaps|
|Elusive with the puck on his stick||Can reach with his stick too much defensively|
|A possession darling in the neutral zone and with controlled zone entries||Just needs time adjusting to NHL-level opposition and strength|
Davies—#4 in white—displays good defensive discipline in the clip above. You will notice him reaching and lunging with his stick at times, but he stays with the play and in between the carrier and the net. He creates a turnover and takes time to survey his breakout options without panicking.
Above I raved about Davies’s breakout skills and transition play, and it truly is something to behold. Notice in this clip how little he panics. That play circling around his net isn’t likely as successful in the NHL, but he uses a good separation gear to break out of the zone and eventually nearly draws three defenders over to create a good scoring chance.
Davies’s skating ability is obviously his best asset, but I really took a liking to how he breaks out of rushes up the ice. This isn’t always the case because he can be incredibly patient with the puck, but, as you see in the clip above, he can create that scoring chance for himself—and when he’s pressured, he can turn it into a quick, accurate, and, sometimes, deceptive pass. After getting the puck back, he sends two hard shots towards the net that are low to the ice and the second’s rebound ultimately becomes a goal.
I think Davies can almost certainly be a regular NHL defender. He reminds me heavily of Matt Grzelcyk; there’s no need not to be patient with him. But I’m not convinced he will need much time in Milwaukee to adjust (maybe one season).
Davies signed his entry-level contract on April 3 for two seasons. It’s a max ELC with a $925K cap hit in the NHL, full performance bonuses, and a $70K salary in the minors.
Upon expiry in the summer of 2021, he will be a restricted free agent.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com; all contract information is courtesy of capfriendly.com.