Why You Should Want: Seth Jarvis

It’s time to talk about one of my favorite prospects in the 2020 class.

If you’ve been following OTF for a while now, you’ve seen Eric’s amazing prospect reports every year; he does a great job breaking down a prospect’s skills and where they should fall in the draft. What I want to do with this series is take a look at some of my favorite prospects from another angle: how would they fit into Nashville’s prospect pool? I’ll look at things like star probability, underlying numbers, and what I think of a player from the film I’ve watched to give you all the reasons why you, as a fan, should be hoping to hear their name on draft day.

For my fifth player in this series, I’ll be looking at Seth Jarvis, a 5’10” forward from the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. Jarvis fits almost everything I want in a player for Nashville with his speed, skill, and explosive rise to the top of this class. There are some who question whether his incredible production in the second half of the WHL season is fully reflective of his true talent, but most agree that he should fall somewhere in the range of picks 10 through 20.

Our sister site All About The Jersey wrote a brief prospect profile on Jarvis that you can read here, and Eric wrote about him briefly as a player who might be available when the Preds pick 11th.

Seth Jarvis, Forward, Portland Winterhawks

Ranked 18th in Bob McKenzie’s final draft board (a ranking that closely reflects the pulse of scouts and GMs’ thoughts on prospects), Jarvis will almost certainly be available at 11 when the Predators are on the clock. The bigger question is whether he’s worth taking over other players who might be available like Anton Lundell, Dawson Mercer, or Rodion Amirov. As a prospect with only one year of truly standout production, Jarvis is perceived to be a riskier player to select at this spot than others I just named, but I feel he’s absolutely worthy of heavy consideration. Let’s dig into why.

What makes him good?

There are a ton of things I love about Seth Jarvis, but let’s narrow it down to the big three reasons:

1.) He’s the highest riser in the draft for a reason

No player in this draft had a bigger improvement in one season than Jarvis, and it isn’t even particularly close. In one of the more physical junior leagues, on a “just fine, nothing special” team, Jarvis was originally a fine WHL winger scoring at a decent, draftable but mostly un-noteworthy clip before the start of the 2020 year.

From January 1st onward, Jarvis went nuclear, scoring 64 points in 26 games and absolutely carrying the Winterhawks on offense. Players with Jarvis’s skill and speed combination who make that kind of scoring leap are rare in any league, but for him to do this as a relatively undersized player in the WHL is an even bigger deal.

By Byron Bader’s NHLe model, Jarvis has the fifth-highest chance to be a star among all all players in the 2020 class (with star being defined as a forward scoring over .7 points per game at the NHL level). However, Jarvis sits at just 17th in NHLer probability (likelihood that the prospect plays over 200 NHL games), as you’d expect with a player whose value is largely being based upon a smaller body of work.

For me, Jarvis brings to mind the meteoric rise of a similar speedy, undersized, and skilled winger in the 2006 NHL Draft; I’m of course talking about Claude Giroux, who turned heads with his ridiculous breakout in the QMJHL. Even then, Giroux’s growth from his D-1 season to his draft year pales in comparison to Jarvis, who had his NHLe go from 16 to 42, as compared to Giroux’s 11 to 32.

Just watching Jarvis, he visibly improved in every part of his game by a pretty drastic amount over the course of the year. While not a big transition player, he showed the capacity to be a focal point in that area and improved his abilities on the breakout quite a bit. While not an excellent defender, he showed the effort needed for an undersized player to not be a total liability and showed progress in his stick checking and positioning in the defensive zone. There’s a lot to like about a player who improves that much in their weakest areas, even before you talk about their strengths.

In my opinion, you can’t ignore a guy whose game clicks that well in the leadup to the draft. Frequently, draft risers end up being stars, and I have a feeling that Jarvis will be no different; when you’re posting five-point games and embarrassing guys who should be sealing you along the boards due to your size, there’s something special going on. Jarvis has very strong upside and could continue to grow rapidly; that should be a big selling point for Nashville fans.

2.) He boasts an extremely versatile toolkit that will transition well to the NHL, even if he doesn’t hit his ceiling

Jarvis is good at just about everything, great at a few things, and at his very worst is only slightly lagging behind what you’d want to see. Is he fast? Well, while his straight-line speed is slightly slower than the best skaters in this class, he has an admirable motor and ample shiftiness that blend to make him a dynamic skater on the attack. Is he making good decisions with and without the puck? Yes; while his defense leaves a lot to be desired, he has the motor to improve, and his offensive decision-making with and without the puck on his stick is stellar. Is he skilled? His hands are pretty great, he has a good shot, and he does an excellent job of reading defenders to either get open or blow past them. Can he score? The numbers speak for themselves, as do the highlights.

Something that stands out about Jarvis compared to other players of his archetype is his willingness to go to the dirty areas and work for leverage to create high danger opportunities. I have a feeling that if Jarvis makes the NHL, he’ll be an analytical darling by offensive numbers (although his defense will likely look less favorable) because he generates so much offense by either shooting the puck himself, commanding massive defensive commitment with his speed, or craftily working himself into the slot/crease.

Another standout tool in his kit is his puck possession and ability to avoid turnovers in the offensive zone. In the games I watched, I rarely saw Jarvis cough up the puck in the offensive end; his vision and agility were good enough that he almost always managed to connect with a teammate or win the tie-up or stickwork battle. The Predators don’t have anyone who can really do that right now, with too many offensive possessions ending with panicked shots or passes right to the other team, so Jarvis brings additional organizational value.

3.) He’s the most terrifying offensive talent that I’ve seen in this year’s class outside of the top 3 players

Yes, I’m that high on this kid. His instincts, playmaking, shiftiness, speed, and shot are a unique blend and I’m confident when I say that he’ll be an offensive star at the NHL level if he makes a few slight adjustments. The way he constantly attacks the most dangerous areas of the ice either via the pass or his shot is uncanny; I’ve never seen a player attempt that many slot passes and have such consistent success because 1.) the pass is perfect, or 2.) there’s a ton of open space created via Jarvis’s skating and stickhandling. I’m personally of the opinion that Jarvis is a top-ten talent in this class, and I think many teams will regret passing on him when he’s lighting it up in the NHL.

So, how would he fit in to a Predators organization in desperate need of forwards? Let’s dive in.

Why is he a good fit in Nashville?

1.) He’s instantly the best offensive player in the pipeline, bar none

While Philip Tomasino is currently the better overall player, Jarvis brings high-octane offense like no Preds prospect has since Alexander Radulov. His relentless attacking style and blazing pace of play sets him apart from the more deliberate, controlled pace of Tomasino, all without really sacrificing puckhandling ability or passing accuracy. If Tomasino is a sleek, new-age sports car, Jarvis is the equivalent of a hot rod. He’s the type of player you can’t help but notice every time he’s on the ice.

2.) He has a legitimate chance to be a star

There aren’t many players in this draft that can excite the way that Jarvis can. Every time I watch him, he reminds me of some of the most electrifying undersized players in hockey history; I’m not joking when I say he could be a true showstopper. For a team and organization seemingly allergic to an entertaining style of hockey, Jarvis can be the sparkplug that’s been missing since Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya left.

Jarvis can fly, he’s got slick and lethal hands, he never stops driving to attack, and he scores like crazy. I expect him to be racking up highlight-reel goals in a few years.

3.) He could be an absolute beast off the rush

David Poile likes building teams that generate offense on rush attempts. Seth Jarvis is a player who enjoys racing up the ice at breakneck speed and going to the dangerous areas. This seems like a match made in Heaven. In all seriousness, Jarvis is creative enough to be a legitimate threat to score on the first shot or the rebound every time he careens up the ice, and he’s smart enough with his cheating to rarely get caught.

Who does he compare to?

I usually hate doing direct comparisons for players because that’s really unfair, so it should say a lot that I was excited to talk about who Jarvis reminds me of. He’s basically a mishmash of almost everything I love in a winger and that leads to some pretty real excitement, so take what I say with a grain of salt because it’s 100% coming from a hyped-up perspective.

Floor: the current version of Jonathan Drouin (where he’s really skilled but pretty bad at hockey)

Drouin is notably one of the closest comparables for Jarvis, and I think that bill fits to some extent. Drouin has been a pretty good NHL player at points, but he’s seemingly lost his way in Montreal and has largely been a flashy player with little substance this season. We’ve especially seen a lot of that in the recent play-in round, where he was a complete mess for most of the games. If Jarvis can’t translate his offensive skillset to the NHL level in an effective, play-driving and scoring manner, he’ll likely end up being 2020 play-in round Jonathan Drouin.

Mid: Steve frigging Sullivan

Yep, that’s right; Seth Jarvis could be the second coming of The Man if he pans out in a middling way. Sullivan’s career was full of injuries, but when healthy he was a speedy, dynamic player who was the reason a lot of people became Predators fans (if you watched those early 2000s teams, it was probably for him, Kariya, Vokoun, and Timonen). If Jarvis can’t totally smoke people with his tools the way he’s flashed in juniors, he should still be a formidable playmaker who puts up around 60 points and 20ish goals every year.

Ceiling: a terrifying combination of Simon Gagne and Danny Brière, but with a worse shot

“Eamon, must you compare every good prospect to a Flyers star?” you ask.

“Yes,” I reply.

Yeah, I wasn’t lying when I said that I might be overhyping Jarvis, but who the hell cares. The first time I watched him, he reminded me so strongly of these two that I instantly tagged him as a guy I loved in this draft, and the feeling has never really left. Brière and Gagne are the prototypical speedy, gritty little guys who scored at a great clip and brought dynamic offensive ability; they both had better shots than Jarvis, but I still think Seth Jarvis projects as a player whose ceiling is absolutely astronomical. If he becomes everything he can be, he’s a point per game scorer in the national hockey league with 30-goal potential. I genuinely believe he’s that good.

What’s the final word?

Seth Jarvis is probably my favorite prospect in this draft class, although it’s a close contest between him, Anton Lundell and Jacob Perreault. He’s speedy, he’s flashy, he does the little things, and he could be the biggest star in Predators history if everything breaks just right. If the team drafts him I will lose my mind and will probably buy his jersey that instant. I’ll at the bare minimum get some draft memorabilia and his hockey card, or something of that nature. Nashville fans will love him, and he’s exactly what the organization needs. I hope we call his name on draft day.