‘A lot different than I imagined it’: Seth Jarvis navigates life as a newly drafted NHL prospect
Source: Twitter/Seth Jarvis
WINNIPEG -- Having his named called at the NHL Entry Draft was a lifelong dream fulfilled for Seth Jarvis, though he never imagined it would happen in the comfort of his own Winnipeg home.
“It was a lot different than I imagined it,” Jarvis said.
“I imagined going to Montreal and going on stage.”
Normally held in late June, top prospects traditionally gather at an NHL arena, sitting with their families in the stands, dressed in their best suit, eagerly awaiting a team to call their name, and marking the beginning of their NHL journey.
When a player’s name is called in the first round, it’s usually followed by sharing hugs with loved ones before making their way to the arena floor and main stage to meet the team executives that just made their dream come true. The player then puts on their new jersey and ball cap and smiles for a picture before being whisked for media interviews.
This year the draft was pushed back nearly four months because of the global pandemic. It was held virtually instead of inside Montreal’s Bell Centre, as initially planned, but the moment was still a special one for the Jarvis family despite the circumstance.
“Spending it with family and friends is something I can’t replace and something I’ll hold with me for a long time,” Jarvis said.
A prominent prospect for most of his teen years, Jarvis had a breakout season with the Portland Winterhawks in 2019-20, registering a career high 98 points (42 goals and 56 assists) in just 58 games, the second highest total in the Western Hockey League. To put that in perspective, he scored just 16 goals, finishing with 39 total points over 61 games the year before.
But it was his performance with Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where scouts got a glimpse of his full ability on the ice.
With a pair of goals and assists over five games at the world under-18 championship tournament, he leaped up eight spots to 11th on the final NHL Central Scouting report, as well as many other draft boards including that of TSN director of scouting, Craig Button -- but not because of his scoring ability.
Button said the young forward was forced to adjust to a role unlike the one he was used to with his WHL team in Portland, and flourished.
“Seth wasn’t in an offensive role, he was in a specific role that was really critical for team Canada,” Button said.
“He didn’t lose any of his offensive prowess because he was still making plays, but then you saw this other area of his game he was very adept at and I really think he took those experiences and built upon it.”
PROGRESSING AS A 'PANDEMIC PICK'
Going 13th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes without all the pageantry that typically comes with the NHL Draft is just one abnormality in the life of a ‘pandemic pick’ like Jarvis.
Normally, a first round pick like Jarvis would meet with team officials and tour its facilities shortly after being selected, while being subject to additional training and development opportunities before competing in a rookie tournament.
But, he said, communication with his new NHL club has been sparse since draft night.
“I didn’t have too much contact with Carolina, but I think sometimes that’s the best. I think maybe they did their research behind the scenes and I’m just happy to be a part of that organization,” Jarvis said.
These challenges are not unique to Jarvis and the rest of his 2020 draft class.
Button, who has fifteen years of NHL scouting and managerial experience before jumping to broadcasting, said the severe lack of player assessment opportunities in the absence of summer development camps, World Juniors evaluation camps and rookie tournaments is unlike anything NHL general managers and scouts have endured before the pandemic.
“The 2020 draft picks (in a typical year) get to come to the rookie tournament, play and test themselves against other prospects in your organization, you get to really asses from an organizational point of view where those players are at in their timeline of development and how they are handling things,” Button said.
Similar to what Jarvis said he’s experiencing when it comes to contact with his new club, Button said it’s tough for teams to guide their newly acquired prospects when they are unable to conduct their typical summer schedule.
“Development coaches can go back and say ‘Hey listen, these are things your really need to be aware of and you’ve got to work on’ and then the players can start to apply those,” he said.
“But if you don’t know what to apply, if you don’t have that strong feedback of what to apply, you’re working on your game, but are you applying it in the right way?”
While Button holds high praise for the skill and IQ of Jarvis, as well as the rate he’s been developing, he believes there is still room for growth before Jarvis can contribute at the NHL level. Confident the Winnipeg forward will eventually flourish as a pro, Button said it may take him, and the rest of the 2020 draft picks, more time to develop.
“Players are going to have to be patient with themselves, and teams, organizations are going to have to be patient with this group of players, because it’s going to affect players differently depending on where they are at in their developmental cycle,” Button said.
Jarvis isn’t looking too far ahead.
He’s regularly training here in Winnipeg, aiming to crack Canada’s World Junior team, which will be made up of a group of players who’ve not played in any meaningful game since March.
“I don’t know what to expect. Everything is different this year,” Jarvis said.
“I know it’s going to be a hard camp, I know there’s a lot of good players and a lot of players looking for (roster) spots so it’s something I’m going to try and come in there and do, I feel ready go and I’m hoping to make the roster.”
Jarvis said it’s been tough being unable to play for this long, and says he’s taking in MJHL action and watching film, when he’s not training; all adding to his eagerness to get back on the ice with his teammates now that his dreams of playing in the NHL are well within reach.