With the fifth entry in the Canucks Army 2020 NHL Draft Profiles, we get to the first defenceman of the draft.
Name: Jamie Drysdale
Date of Birth: April 8, 2002
Weight: 170 lbs
The mobile, right-shot defenceman is a favourite of mine in this year’s class because of his elusive footwork. With the revolution of shorter statured defencemen with elite edgework taking over NHL bluelines, consider Drysdale to be the next in line. At this point in development, the Erie Otter looks to be the best defender available and has the highest ceiling of his draft class. The strength of Drysdale’s skating is evident when we look at his transition numbers. Micro stats tracked by Mitchell Brown show that he is strong at creating controlled zone entries for his team. He isn’t flashy but he’s smart with the puck and can create off of his vision and skating.
Offensively, Drysdale boasts fantastic playmaking numbers ranking in the 99th and 95th percentile for expected primary assists and shot assists. His 0.59 primary-points per-game rank 6th out of all first-year draft-eligible defenders. He is much more of a playmaker than shooter but again, he has much room to grow in both regards. He was a positive force when inspecting goal shares as he boasted a 54.45 even-strength goals-for percentage.
Defensively, Drysdale’s strengths lie in his penchant for closing the gap on the rush due to his excellent mobility. Combined with an active stick, he is effective at breaking up carry-ins. Mitchell’s numbers may not show it but this is a definite area of strength for the defender. He may not stop them right at the blueline but Drysdale can force players wide while containing their speed. He is reliable in his own end and can send a responsible first pass out of the zone. However, when pressured, he is a little raw in his decision making. This is an area where he can stand to grow and makes him less polished than other recent top defence prospects like Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes.
What are the scout’s saying about the defenceman?
However, when pressured, his numbers fall off to the 39th percentile. Make no mistake, Drysdale’s game is founded upon slippery edgework and poise with the puck but he is overall a little raw in his decision making, especially under pressure. This is an area where he can stand to grow and makes him less polished than other recent top defence prospects like Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes.
-Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
The 2020 draft isn’t the deepest when it comes to defensemen, but Drysdale has distinguished himself as the guy if you want a defenseman with a top pick. Drysdale has been a top defenseman in the OHL and made Canada’s U20 team as a 17-year-old. He’s one of the best skaters in the draft. His edge work is elite and he’ll have no issues with the speed of the NHL. Drysdale is an undersized defenseman but defends well due to his skating and IQ. Offensively he’s very good, but not flashy. He’s not going to have a Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes type of rush, but he’s a very smart puck-mover who can create with his speed and vision.
-Corey Pronman, The Athletic
It feels unjust to have Drysdale, who is better than last year’s top defenseman (Bowen Byram, fourth overall in 2019 to the Avalanche) at the same age, ranked eighth here. He’s the best defenseman in the draft by a wide margin and that will mean that he (rightfully so) gets picked higher than this. I wouldn’t fault a team for taking him at No. 3. He’s that good. Drysdale is one of the smoothest-skating draft-eligible defensemen in recent memory (right up there with Quinn Hughes), with light, almost-floating edge work and perfect balance through his core when he’s on his toes or his heals, moving in any direction. He will make a great skating coach when his career is over — and he’ll be a model for others in the meantime. He’s also extremely poised with the puck on his stick, which helps him evade pressure, create exits and entries with his feet, or attack off of the blue line to use his dangerous wrist shot (his slapshot could use some work and some more strength). Because of his four-way mobility, he’s also an excellent rush defender who can play tight gaps and rarely gets beat in motion. He also reads the play quickly with and without the puck, which helps with his defensive reads and his passing (both on stretch passes and through seams in the offensive zone). He might lack the length and power we see in most No. 1 defensemen but I wouldn’t rule that out for his upside.
-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
For rebuilding teams in need of help on the backend, Jamie Drysdale is as good of a prospect as you could hope for in the top 10. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team prioritized this position especially after seeing the success of guys like Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, and Adam Fox ushering in a new age of NHL defenders and used a top 5 or even top 3 selection on Drysdale.