Calgary native Jaret Anderson-Dolan is one of the younger centers of this year’s draft, as he will not turn 18 until September 12th of this year. Nonetheless, what you have here is one of the better centers in the entire draft class. Playing for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, Jaret had a monster breakout season this year, producing over a point per game for a fairly poor Chiefs team that managed to miss the playoffs despite eight of the ten western conference teams making it.
For those who are looking for a speedy forward, they will look no further than Jaret. According to Elite Prospects, he stands 5’11” and weighs 185 pounds. He is not just fast up and down the ice, but he is quick in transition as well, jumping from offense to defense seamlessly. This, along with a strong work ethic, makes him one of the better two-way centers this year. Look for him to be taken within the first two rounds.
Who is Jaret Anderson-Dolan?
Anderson-Dolan, or JAD, has the intangibles that will make scouts and teams really excited to take him. He may not have the prototypical size, but he has just about everything else. He has speed, in all of its forms. He has it right between the ears, with a positive attitude and strong work ethic. He plays a 200 foot game, possessing a quality shot, a great transition game, and also a desire and ability to play strong defensively.
While not on his level, JAD and Nico Hischier are similar in this regard: both have jumped up the rankings thanks to a stellar breakout 2016-17 campaign. In 2015-16, his first with Spokane, he only managed to put up 26 points in 65 games. It was his second year in the WHL, however, when he really broke loose. This year, he put up 76 points in 72 games, with over half of those points (39 to be exact) coming as goals, not assists. He played on a top line this year with another top prospect, Kailer Yamamoto, who is projected by most everyone to be a first round talent. The two of them completely dominated their competition, Yamamoto putting up 99 points to go along with JAD’s 76. With seemingly another year lined up together, they both have a chance next year to make whoever drafts them proud.
Clearly, the main downside to JAD is that he really has only broken out for just this one year. He did have a sick 2013-14 year in Bantam, producing 126 points in 59 games, but between then and this past year, his numbers are not exceptional. Good? Yes. Exceptional? No. This issue is also combined with the fact that he had this breakout year alongside such a superb talent in Yamamoto. Some like to claim that he was riding the coattails of a better player. Others, however, will point out that the two fed off each other quite well, both becoming better thanks to the other. And finally, as a captain this year for Team Canada at the U18 World Juniors, he stunk up the joint. He produced 0 points in 5 games, and Canada fell in the quarterfinals to Sweden 7-3. That was not a good showing on the world stage, especially after being named captain. So those reasons are generally what are making people project him as a potential second round choice, not a clear top rounder. However, if you wanted to take those away, you could probably see first round talent in his game.
Also, fun fact, he is the son of two moms, and is not afraid about promoting it. Whatever you might want to say about his game on the ice, he absolutely possesses strong personal character off of the ice and should be celebrated for it. His parents should be very proud.
Where is Anderson-Dolan Ranked?
Central Scouting has Anderson-Dolan as the 21st ranked North American skater heading into the draft. That aligns mostly with an early 2nd round choice, although there is the possibility for a late first depending on how the draft goes. He was originally ranked 40th by CSS at the midterm, but his red hot year with Spokane helped to rocket him up the rankings.
Future Considerations has him as the 37th best player entering the draft on their final rankings, an early second round choice. ISS Hockey (International Scouting Services) has him as #31 on their top 31 players in this draft, a late first round grade. Craig Button is dead on with ISS as well, also ranking him #31 on his board.
The lone dissenter would seem to be The Draft Analyst, who has JAD at 63 on his final rankings list. That is an improvement from 79 where he was ranked back in February, but still lower than most. That is a 3rd round grade as opposed to a 2nd or even a late 1st, where he is for most everyone else.
What Others Have Said About Anderson-Dolan
Over at the Hockey Writers, a prospect profile was written up on Anderson-Dolan back on May 26th. The writer, Zachary Devine, is generally quite high on the Calgary native. Amongst other things, here are some positive snippets:
“Everything he does looks to be at a pace that others on the ice struggle to adjust to. His hands are quick, his feet are fast and his processing of the game is excellent among his peers… You cannot teach speed, work ethic and creativity, all of which JAD has in spades… Defensively, JAD does not shy away from his responsibilities, and his role as a puck-hound, coupled with his speed, is a threat to kickstart any transition game.”
Beyond that, Devine compares JAD’s game to Logan Couture, especially when it relates to his two-way game, which is high praise indeed. Anyone would gladly take a success like that from the draft, especially if they can get it in the second round. Furthermore, he says it is downright wrong to say that he was a passenger on Yamamoto’s dominating path this season, as they both were great together. However, he does have a few negatives to point out, saying that his shot can “lack punch”, and that “positionally, he will require refinement and adding muscle will help him in the corners.” In the end, though, muscle can be added and teaching the position can be done, but JAD clearly has the intangibles you would want.
The Last Word on Sports also did a profile on Anderson-Dolan, this one by Ben Kerr back on May 6th. He breaks down his analysis into four parts: skating, offensive game, defensive game, and projection and comparison. Almost all of it is positive. His biggest praise comes in the skating category, although there are highlights throughout. You should definitely read it, but here are some snippets that go beyond what I’ve brought up already:
“He has the strength and balance in his lower body to fight through checks and drive the net. He is hard to knock off the puck… gets in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring defenders into mistakes and creating turnovers. Once he does get a turnover, he uses his strength on the puck to protect the puck down low, and extend possession. More a goal scorer than a playmaker… He is very good in transitioning a turnover into offence. Anderson-Dolan is a good penalty killer, and can be matched against an opponent’s top line.”
Again, there is more there in the positives that you should read up on, and Kerr mentions his amazing speed, agility and two-way play, but what I quoted mentions some other real positives too. He is not just a finesse player despite being mostly a scorer and not a playmaker. He will score the gritty goals and is not afraid to get in deep on the forecheck. However, he does not leave his team dry defensively thanks to a great ability to play in transition and force turnovers. Plus, he is great on the PK.
Kerr does mention a few areas that need improvement. First, he does reiterate that he needs to work on his positioning, something mentioned by the Hockey Writers. He also says “it’s unclear though if he has the offensive upside to be a true number one centre.” That is a little disheartening, although a second round choice projecting to be a second line scorer is still something any team would take. In the end, Kerr compares his game to that of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, not a bad comparison honestly.
Future Considerations, who has JAD ranked as their 37th best player in the draft, has a small write up about him as well, this one sort of acting as a more official scouting report. Again, it is near all positives, and mostly what we have mentioned already. Instead of me quoting much of what you now know, go check it out if you are interested. What I really want to add from the scouting report is their final analysis. They project Jaret to become a middle 6 center in the NHL, with good upside. Again, any team would take a quality second line center with a pick in the second round, and JAD certainly has that potential.
A Little Video
Instead of reading, you want to watch a three minute prospect profile video on him that showcases a mix of interviews and plays on the ice? If so, check out this video here by Colin McQuillan.
Talk about a good game, here are his highlights from a game he played back in November against the Vancouver Giants where he had a hat trick plus an assist to go with it.
Here, he scored 2 goals and added an assist against Portland back in January.
You want more? How about another hat trick plus an assist back in February against Medicine Hat.
More hat tricks? Why not. This one, without any assists, was against the Victoria Royals in December.
I’ll get straight to the point. The New Jersey Devils pick at #36 in the second round. If Jaret Anderson-Dolan is still on the board at that point, there is almost no reason as to why Ray Shero should not pull the trigger on him. Kailer Yamamoto will already be gone by then, and while some may be nervous that JAD got his success simply because of him, Shero should not let that fear force him into taking someone else. This is someone that New Jersey absolutely needs in the pipeline. He has a high skill level, high compete level, high hockey intelligence, and high character. He is also a goal scorer, not a playmaker. The Devils need people who aren’t afraid to shoot and score goals. Too many of the forwards on the team look to pass instead of shoot. JAD is not that guy, nor should he be if the Devils take him. Cultivate that 39 goal season this year into a scoring machine.
I know that some people will say that the Devils should not go center-center with their first two picks, and considering that both Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier are centers, these people will argue that perhaps the Devils should look wing or defense here. I can understand that line of reasoning, but I have to disagree with it. I wouldn’t look at positioning here as much, especially if comparing center to wing. The Devils need scorers in their system. Period. These scorers can be centers, wingers, defensemen, it doesn’t matter. That is what is needed more than anything else, and the cure-all for that is to draft players like JAD who clearly project as players who will help to light the lamp. Yes he may not project as a top line guy, but who are you drafting at 36th overall who is? If someone like Yamamoto falls then of course take them, but assuming those who project as top line talent all go in the first round, then this is where you take someone like Anderson-Dolan.
To me, he makes sense because not only is he a scorer, but he literally plays a game that is ‘fast, attacking, and supportive.’ He has great speed both mentally and physically, is willing to attack and forecheck at all times, and also plays a two-way style that is very supportive. His game is very comparable to what Ray Shero was discussing when those three words were used to describe the new age of Devils hockey. And his flaws that everyone else mentions? They aren’t incurable like not having speed or not having a high hockey IQ. No, he actually has those things in spades. His flaws, like for example his positioning, are all things that can be worked on in practice and made better. That is exactly what you want. So in the end, for me, I don’t see how you don’t take him at #36 if he is still available, barring someone with better talent falling in the draft for one reason or another.
Well anyway, that is what I think the Devils should do. What do you think? What do you think about Jaret Anderson-Dolan? Are you high on his game or not? What about his game makes you excited? Do you think the Devils should be looking at taking him 36th overall like I do, or do you think they should let another team take him? Or perhaps, do you think he could fall to the Devils at pick #49? If so, why do you think that, and why should Shero risk letting him fall to there? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!