It will be four or five years before we know how Trevor Timmins selection of defenseman Noah Juulsen turns out, but by all accounts, once again he has managed to pluck a gem out of the nether regions of the NHL’s first round.
This we do know. Juulsen was taken out of the 26th slot in the draft. He is 6’2” and around 180 lbs. Juulsen has a right shot and last season was a teammate of Canadiens 2014 first round draft choice Nikita Scherbak. Last season he played on Everett’s top defense pairing and produced nine goals and 52 points in 68 games. At plus-22 he was second on the team to Scherbak’s plus-33.
At least one scouting report called him the one of the most underrated prospects to come out of the Western Hockey league this year. NHL central scouting had the Abbotsford B.C. native listed 38th in it’sDecember rankings and in the second half of the season as Juulsen’s confidence grew raised him 16 points to 22nd on their final list.
Because of the presence on the Everett roster of Scherbak (also 26th pick overall), it was not only amateur scouts who saw a lot of Juulsen but also Rob Ramage and Martin Lapointe from the Canadiens player development department. They also chipped in with a high recommendation, especially Lapointe.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told reporters “(Juulsen) was the player we wanted. We had no hesitation. The scout who saw him the most said he would ‘sleep like a baby’ knowing the Canadiens had drafted him.”
Bergevin added, “Juulsen is part of the new wave of defencemen; a good skater with great character and a competitor. These players find a way to be successful.”
According to scouting reports, Juulsen is a good, but not extraordinary skater at this stage of his development. His stats tell you lhe can on occasion jump into the play offensively but has a physical component to his game in his own end. His coach Kevin Constantine used him in all key situations including both special teams and against opponents top line. Great vision. Good passer. Quarterback on the power play. Scouts mention his agility, lateral movement and edgework. He pivots quickly which helps him to control things in his own zone. Although part of the Silvertips number one power play unit, six of his nine goals this season were scored at even strength. On the negative side, while playing a controlled game when he has the puck, like many 19 year olds, he lacks discipline without it.
Everett has produced some pretty good defencemen in recent years including Ryan Murray of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mirco Mueller of the San Jose Sharks. That said, like almost all defensemen, especially those taken in the latter stages of the first round, Juulsen will need experience. He’ll be back in the WHL next season.
Unless they make a deal, the Canadiens next pick won’t come until deep in the third round, 87th overall. They they’ll have await the fifth round (131st).