Jonas Siegenthaler is a big defenseman hailing from Zurich, Switzerland. As of the final rankings, he was rated the 12th best European skater entering this year's draft. That is a good position to be in, and it most likely means that Jonas will be taken around the second round of the draft.
Jonas has the size to compete at the NHL level, standing at 6'2" and weighing 214 lbs. Considering his age, there is a chance he could gain even a little more weight on top of that, which would really give him a powerful frame. Despite his size, however, Jonas is not all that slow out on the ice, and has the mobility to cover a good portion of the ice. What he is not, however, is an offensive defenseman, and projects as more of a shutdown sort of guy. Is this the type of player the New Jersey Devils should be targeting?
Who is Jonas Siegenthaler?
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As you can see from the stats, Jonas has spent his entire career playing hockey in the Swiss system. Currently, he plays for the ZSC Lions in the National League A, which is the highest professional hockey league in the country.
What is blatantly obvious from glancing at his stats is that his goal scoring and overall offensive production are extremely limited. In this past season with the Lions, he scored a measly 3 points—all assists—over 41 games played at the NLA level. He was much better down in National League B, where he produced 8 points in 10 games, but that is a small sample, and is against lesser competition nonetheless. The fact that he does not produce points in the NLA is a strong indicator that he will not do so in the NHL either. This will be especially true for goal scoring. He may be able to generate some assists, as he seems to do in international competition, but the goals are just not going to come.
Instead, he makes up for it by being extremely solid in his own end. At the World Juniors this year, Jonas was a +9 in 6 games played for the Switzerland U20 team, despite the Swiss going 2-3-1 and not even making the playoff round. This is not to mention that he did this as a 17 year old, playing against mostly 18 and 19 year olds. So he makes up for a lack of offense by producing quality defensive play and shutting down the opposition.
What Others Have Said About Siegenthaler
Experts tend to write positively about Siegenthaler's game, despite his overall lack of offense. At Elite Prospects, Rafik Soliman wrote:
"Siegenthaler is a smooth skating defenseman with a tremendous combination of size and mobility. Keeps his game simple, by not risking too much and always looking to make a short safe pass. Needs to improve his shot, despite most of the time being on target, his release is poor and it lacks power. Has fine hands and puck handling and his passes are soft and accurate, but like his shot they lack power. Stands his ground along the boards and is not afraid to use his body, while playing a reliable defensive game."
I feel like one of the more important points to note here is that he is not slow. Despite his size, he has mobility out on the ice. This is very important. In the NHL, he will meet skaters that are considerably faster than in Switzerland. His size would mean nothing if he cannot skate well. Also, it is good that he is a quality passer overall. Without a good offensive game, he needs to be able to make zone clearances and get the puck up ice quickly. Accurate passes are imperative for that to happen.
Over at the Last Word on Sports, Ben Kerr had this to say about Jonas:
"Jonas Siegenthaler has ideal NHL size at 6'3″ and 220 pounds already. He's not afraid to use that size to get involved physically. He's not a big hitter, but he does battle along the boards and clear the front of the net...Siegenthaler is an excellent skater. He has good speed and mobility in all directions thanks to an extremely smooth stride...There isn't much of an offensive game from Jonas Siegenthaler. He does make a good first pass out of the zone, but is a true stay at home defender as he does not follow it up and join the rush. Don't expect much from him in terms of stick handling, or setting plays up either."
Kerr writes a good few paragraphs about Jonas that are worth checking out, but I tried to include some of the more important positives and negatives from what he said. Again, he is a good skater despite his size, which I feel is vital. He is also a battler along the boards, which is important as it means he is willing to get dirty and make the plays necessary in the defensive zone. This is especially important as Kerr pegs him as a "true stay at home defender." He has to be near perfect on defense to make up for a lack of offense.
At My NHL Draft, Dennis Schellenberg has a similar scouting report, writing:
"Strengths: 1. Defensive play 2. One vs. One 3. Stick Usage. Areas for Improvement: 1. Offensive Play 2. Shot/Scoring 3. First Pass. NHL Potential: Stay at home defender. Plays solid defensive game but needs to improve his offense."
Schellenberg writes a similar story to the rest. He also has a longer scouting report paragraph, if you want to check that out definitely click on the link. In particular, he wrote something that I have seen elsewhere: Jonas does not have great strength in his shot or his pass. He is accurate with both, but neither are particularly fast or strong. When I read this, I thought of Jon Merrill to a degree, who has that accurate pass and decent shot, but neither are all that strong, and he is never a real threat to score from the blue line. While I cannot confirm at all if they are similar in this regard, it is something that did come to mind when reading the scouting reports.
A Little Video
Having played his entire career in Switzerland, there is pretty much nothing that I can find on him that is in English. Instead, everything is in German. If you know German and you would like to hear Jonas in some interviews, just YouTube his name. The only video with some action that I can find is the 2013 World U18's quarterfinal between Switzerland and Finland. Jonas is #2 for the Swiss, who are in red. If you would like, check out some of his shifts.
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First, let me discuss the player himself. I think that Jonas has a decent chance to succeed at the NHL level. In analytics, the stay at home defenseman is usually a possession black hole and not a very great producer of stats. I cannot confirm whether or not Siegenthaler is a black hole possession-wise, but it could be possible. Regardless, a defensive defenseman still has a place in the NHL, and coaches and GMs still invest in them so that they can shut down the opposition's top scorers. To this effect, Jonas will be drafted and will be given playing time. If he can work to prevent goals, block shots, and negate the opponent's top scorers, then he will make it at the NHL level.
However, in terms of the New Jersey Devils, I do not think that Jonas is a good fit at this point. The Devils have quality defensemen in the system, and players like Steve Santini and Joshua Jacobs will hopefully grow into successful NHL players alongside the likes of Adam Larsson and Damon Severson. To expend another higher draft pick on someone who is not a point producer would most likely be unwise for the Devils. Maybe in a couple more years, when more forwards and scoring threats are brought in, the need might be to address the defense once again.
To this effect, even if the Devils have Jonas ranked as the best player on their board at pick #36 or #41, I hope that they go in a different direction. They need as many chances to hit on a scoring forward as possible (and need to hit on multiple scoring forwards soon), and drafting a big defensive defenseman is not the way to go about that. Again, nothing against the guy himself, as I do think he has a quality chance to make it in the NHL, but considering his playing style in comparison to the needs of New Jersey, it is not the best fit at this point.
Now that you have heard my opinion, what do you think? Is Siegenthaler someone that the Devils should target in the second round? If so, what about Jonas intrigues you, and what makes you want to see him wear the red and black? If you do not want him to be taken by the Devils, why not? Who would you prefer the team to take in the second round? Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.