The Hurricanes decided to double dip on defensemen with theird second and third picks in the fourth round of this year's draft by selecting Jaccob Slavim from the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Slavin led all Steel defensemen in points last season with 30 in 60 games and he ranked third on the team in +/- with a +6 rating. He is committed to Colorado College and will be playing there next season.
Slavin is described as a two-way defenseman with solid puck-moving skills and good vision. He turned 18 last month and possesses a very strong frame at 6'2" and 170 lbs. He might need to gain a few pounds before he can be more effective physically but the scouts have said that his defensive game is very polished and well-rounded. It's always tough to project defensemen like this because they can either go one way or another. Sometimes their point totals dry up as they get into tougher leagues and other times they will turn into more one-dimensional players. We will learn more about Slavin and where he stands by this time next year after he has a year of college hockey under his belt.
Those who have followed him in the USHL have some promising things to say about him.
A developmental two way defender who is gaining confidence and strength and a bit of physicality. Calm and smart with the puck, and is a good outlet passer. Carries the puck and has stick-handling abilities and soft hands. Good on the point shot. His skating must improve as does his gap control.
Shoots left. Has been doing nothing but improving since last year and may very well prove to become the dark-horse of this year’s NHL Draft. Holds intellect and savvy with the puck and continues to be one of finest defenseman in the USHL. Has become a calm and collected presence across the sheet. Keeps his head-up, reads the play and knows his options before it is time to act. Not mistake free but can always be relied upon to give consistent, honest and simple effort.
Has a smooth and powerful stride. Quick first set of steps and can explode to the puck. Poor backwards skating ability and lacks lateral mobility, which makes it hard to close his gaps properly.
Smart and has tailored his game to make up for his skating deficiency. Pro-active and positions himself well from the start and waits for the puck carrier to make the first move. Is uncanny with getting his stick on the puck to fend off the rush and keep the play to the outside. Does overextend his reach at times though which throws him off balance and causes him to become caught standing still, and not being able to use his size or strength in a second effort. Is not prone to hearing footsteps and remains composed with the puck when under pressure. Huge on-ice awareness and does a good job jamming up lanes and leaving his net-minder a clear view of the puck. Supports his defensive partner very well.
Outstanding vision with the puck and has a nifty pair of mitts. Poised and waits for passing lanes to emerge. Effective at getting crisp, low passes towards the net from atop the blue line but needs to open it up a bit and shoot the puck more. Is the trusted eye on the power play to lead the breakout from the zone. Owns a soft touch with the puck and can distribute it like a pro.
Two-way defenseman that is committed to Colorado College. Is just now coming into his own with an upgradeable frame, high learning curve and severe vision with the puck, all of which will make him extremely intriguing come draft day.
Slavin sounds like most prospects of his age; very skilled in a lot of areas but he has a few things he needs to work on and it looks like skating is one of his key flaws. That could keep him from becoming a good offensive defenseman at the NHL level but he was only 17 this year so it's not like he can't get better. Like I said earlier, we will have a better idea of Slavin as a player in another year or so when he develops. As of right now he doesn't look like anything spectacular but he could be a fine two-way defenseman if he develops well enough. Much has been said about his work ethic so that could be a sign of good things in the future, even if he doesn't project to be more than an AHL-er.