The moment the New York Rangers won the number one pick in this year’s draft, Wings’ fans were jolted from their peaceful Lafrenière-dream. It was like a dream you have the night before Christmas: eagerly looking forward to waking up, you constantly check the clock, anticipating Santa gifting you the best player in the draft. A single jet-stream shooting a lottery ball up in the air ended that dream. But that dream doesn’t have to end. This draft is deep – there’s no real consensus on draft order and the Wings have several holes to fill.
Jake Sanderson – Position – Defenceman
Team – U.S. National Under-18 Team – USHL
Age – 18
Height – 6’1”
Weight – 185 lbs
Nation – USA / Canada
Shoots – Left
Dancer is that reindeer who is quiet all night at a wedding until his favorite song comes on and he rushes to the dance floor. Unbeknownst to everyone, this guy’s got moves. Jake Sanderson is no different. Sanderson’s outstanding skating skills literally forced his transition from forward to defence at a young age. His backward skating ability was light-years above everyone else’s and still is and Wings fans would love to see a smooth-skating, minute-munching, top-4 defenceman amongst their ranks. Sanderson is also the son of former NHLer, Geoff Sanderson. We all know there is minimal downside to having a lineage of hockey-pedigrees on your squad – Tyler Bertuzzi has proven that – and, while this doesn’t guarantee success, it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. Plus, being Captain of his under-17 and under-18 levels, having coaches praise his efficient game-play and adding five pounds of muscle mass in his draft year screams future top-4 defenceman. Unfortunately, if Sanderson is selected Wings’ fans will have to wait to see him because he’s opted to play for the University of North Dakota this season… but as they say, all good things take time.
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button holds Sanderson amongst elite company –
“Jake Sanderson, who I think is Marc Edouard Vlasic, Josh Morrissey type player, if he has more offensive to his game, his game is going to be that much better but he’s a top pair defenseman.”
Nice play here between Jake Sanderson and Matthew Beniers to link up for a 2-on-1 goal.
Berard starts the play in the NZ and Sanderson gives and goes with Beniers to open up space as he jumps up in the play, then Sanderson passes up the shot for an easy tap-in #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/LurVEduZoc
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) May 21, 2020
At first glance, you would not think a defenceman would so effortlessly pass for a tap-in but that’s what Sanderson brings to the table. Yes, his stats support concern regarding his offensive contributions, however lets not judge a book by its cover. One-on-one, the last person the opposition wants to see is Sanderson. During draft times, the term “top-4 defenceman” is often thrown around without merit, but Sanderson’s film displays great skating ability, intelligent decision making and – most importantly – no selfish plays. While he won’t be top-4 this year or the year after that, at some point, Sanderson will become a top-4 defenceman in the NHL. The Atlantic Division should be on alert if the Wings land him.