Do you remember Doug Jarvis? He played for the Montreal Canadiens when they were hammering the rest of the NHL nightly back in the 1970′s. Jarvis was actually drafted by Toronto who quickly sent him to Sam Pollock upon realizing they’d made a solid move.
Roger Neilson coached Jarvis in Peterborough when the young center was in junior. When the Habs traded for Jarvis, Neilson got on the phone and called Scotty Bowman to tell him Montreal had just acquired the league’s best faceoff man. And he meant the NHL!
Doug Jarvis had terrific skills, all pointed in one direction. Defensive play. Aggressive forecheck, a demon in the faceoff circle, outstanding penalty killing. Jarvis wasn’t a great goal scorer, in fact if you didn’t know about him as a player the numbers wouldn’t mean much to you.
But he was a valuable player for two strong teams during his career. Every once in awhile someone will mention his games-played streak but for me Doug Jarvis was at his splendid best on the penalty kill with Bob Gainey and a couple of those all-time Hab defenders. A more recent example: Kris Draper, who had a defense-first rep coming out of the draft too, owing to playing for Dave King’s National team (he went there straight from Don Mills midgets).
I’ve placed Anton Lander at #10 again; based on scouting reports and the information available he’s going to be an NHL coach’s dream if he makes the show but offense is going to be a problem. Already regarded as a team leader, every scouting report talks about his prowess as a checker and “two-way” forward. Most scouting reports about 19-year olds don’t include those kinds of things and most of the guys who end up being good at it don’t start out as checking men. Here’s the HN scouting report on Yanic Perreault in 1989: “Very creative and patient with the puck. He’s a good skater too. The question is how big will he get? How strong will he get?” Nothing about faceoffs or checking. It’s an older player skillset.
Lander’s time on ice has increased this season (last year: 7:39, this year: 17:26) more than double; in fact, he’s playing 2 minutes more per night than #1 prospect MPS does for Timra of the SEL. Put another way, Lander scores 1 point every 60 minutes and MPS scores 2.25 per 60 minutes. Now that’s not completely fair since Magnum PS gets PP time, etc but then again it does tell us a little about how each player is being used too. Here’s Lander’s offensive progression:
- (Age 17) 47gp, 4-6-10 (.213)
- (Age 18) 28gp, 4-5-9 (.321)
Desjardins NHLE for this season shows Lander at 82gp, 10-10-20. All but one of the forwards on my top 20 score better than Lander by this metric. Why then do I have him #10? Because he’s clearly really good at what he’s good at, really effective in an important area of the game. Have you seen scouting reports that say “he’s an exceptional talent but lacks one outstanding skill” and then wondered why the player never makes it? I think Lander has a chance to make it as a specialist.
The concern is that he’s a young man with talents in areas that usually come with time. I remember reading a story about the great Hab left winger Gilles Tremblay, talking about a conversation he had with Toe Blake about not being able to score well at the NHL level (this was when Tremblay was just getting started). “Take care of the checking and I’ll show you how to score enough to stay in the league” said coach Blake.
I imagine Anton Lander is going to need some of Toe Blake’s wisdom.