Northstar Christian Academy U18
6’2” 187 lbs.
Ultimate NHL Central Scouting Rank: 195th amongst North American skaters
In a draft that is stuffed with what are thought-about trendy NHL defensemen—smaller waterbug varieties with wonderful offensive abilities and maybe nonetheless growing defensively—Jacob Napier is a throwback; nearer to sort of defenseman which will have been extra coveted 15-20 years in the past. He’s a giant, robust defenseman whose sport begins on the defensive finish and works out from there. That might not be as flashy or thrilling as a few of the smaller defensemen accessible within the draft, however there’ll at all times be a spot within the sport for a defenseman that may deal with his personal finish of the ice.
Napier can be a little bit of an unknown. He performed this previous season as Northstar Christian Academy, a comparatively new program in an identical vein to a Shattuck-St. Mary’s out of western Minnesota on the U18(Midget Main) degree of play. Enjoying in a non-traditional space, he hasn’t gotten loads of consensus draft hype, however it solely takes one group to essentially like a participant for him to be drafted, and there’s motive to imagine Napier could curiosity some NHL groups.
What I Like
-Good one-on-one defender
The large factor that stood out to me watching Napier was that I actually favored his potential to manage gaps and get his stick on his opponent’s stick when he’s defending. Now, there’s a giant caveat right here in that he’s doing it at a decrease degree, and that process turns into exponentially more durable towards quicker, extra expert competitors. However on the very least, there’s a robust basis with which to construct on as a wonderful participant within the defensive zone.
-Bodily Type of Play
Napier has a giant, robust body and isn’t afraid to make use of it. He’s a punishing bodily presence, particularly alongside the boards. He finishes checks successfully, which might clog up the opposing group’s cycle within the offensive zone.
-Prepared to Leap Into the Play
A lot of the speak about Napier’s offensive sport goes to come back within the negatives part of this publish. However one offensive facet of his sport that I actually like is his potential to learn the play and bounce into the offensive rush to create odd-man conditions for his group.
I don’t see him creating loads of offense with the puck on his stick, however that potential to offer his group a numerical benefit once they get possession of the puck results in scoring probabilities.
Right here’s an incredible instance of that. Napier begins the play simply inside his personal blue line because the puck will get pushed to the far boards. His group wins possession and seeing no defensive help on the weak facet, joins the push on the left wing to create a 3-on-2 that results in a aim for his group.
What I Don’t Like
Napier’s skating held up effective on the U18 degree and in his transient stint within the NAHL, however it’s not likely an elite asset and there’ll most likely be some query if it may well maintain up as he progresses to greater ranges. He’ll probably should be a man that has to get by with wonderful positioning to make up for his foot pace.
-Doesn’t create lots along with his passing
Once more, Napier primarily initiatives as a defensive defenseman. He’ll make a stable first move out of his personal zone, however in any other case, he doesn’t present loads of artful playmaking in his sport. He’ll be more likely to play on the penalty kill than the ability play going ahead.
Napier didn’t draw a ton of consideration enjoying in a league the place only a few NHL draft picks come from, and as his Central Scouting rating suggests, he’s most likely a fringe draft choose at finest. In an period the place each group is on the lookout for the subsequent Cale Makar, he’s not going to be that man.
That stated, I believe there’s some potential worth to drafting him within the later rounds, particularly if group draft lists are a little bit thinner than ordinary as a consequence of so many gamers lacking this previous season.
If any individual is actually intrigued by Napier’s potential, he could slip into the center rounds of the draft, however late rounds to undrafted is the almost certainly state of affairs.
Even when Napier isn’t drafted, nonetheless, I might not be stunned if he finally ends up as a coveted NHL free agent goal after a number of years of play within the NCAA. In that regard, he could also be a artful late spherical choose only for the sake of securing unique negotiating rights a number of years down the highway.
Napier isn’t going to be essentially the most thrilling prospect. He probably received’t put up enormous offensive numbers and even be essentially the most noticeable participant, however each group wants a man or two like him to maintain the puck out of the web. His ceiling is pretty restricted in that he doesn’t essentially have tremendous star potential, but when he can flip right into a stable, dependable defensive defenseman, he’ll be a house run choose for the place he’ll be accessible within the draft.
Napier is dedicated to play his school hockey for Andy Murray at Western Michigan. He was not too long ago chosen within the first spherical, twelfth total, within the USHL Entry Draft, as certain an indication as any that he’ll spend at the least subsequent season enjoying a 12 months of juniors within the USHL earlier than heading to Kalamazoo, nonetheless. That’s probably the proper choice on condition that Napier is coming off a 12 months the place he principally performed U18 hockey. A while within the USHL will make for a smoother transition to the faculty sport.
Western Michigan has a terrific observe report in growing gamers for the professionals, particularly on the subject of defensemen. So Napier shall be in a great spot, and if he continues his upward growth development, he might find yourself as a extremely stable professional participant in a number of years.