At 120th overall, the New Jersey Devils selected Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) defenseman Ethan Edwards. This mobile defender is committed to the University of Michigan for the 2021-22 season. In the meantime, he will play for the Sioux City Musketeers in 2020-21. Let’s learn a little bit more about the player.
Who is Edwards?
According to his Elite Prospects profile, Edwards is a 5’10”, 165 lbs. defenseman from Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. He shoots left handed and spent last season with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) which is a step below major junior. He did that so he could retain his college eligibility where he is committed to the University of Michigan. Elite Prospects lists him as set to attend for the 2021-22 season so this is a prospect the Devils will take the long route with and allow to develop over time.
What Others Say About Edwards
First, his Elite Prospects page has this description of his game:
It’s Edwards skating and high activity rate that informs so much of his value. He’s so aggressive carrying the puck up-ice in transition, and he tirelessly works to support the puck in the offensive zone. The same is true of the way that Edwards defends, whether it’s in the neutral zone or defensive zone, he closes in on puck-carriers and plays with decisiveness. -EliteProspects 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Next, Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey has this profile where he ranked Edwards 99th. Here are some excerpts:
Regarding his skating:
His speed is very good in both directions. He reaches that top speed quickly with excellent acceleration and a good first step. Edwards can cover a ton of ice thanks to his edgework and agility. His lateral movement is strong and helps him in both ends of the ice.
Regarding his offensive game:
He can also carry the puck through the neutral zone and lead the rush. Edwards also makes a good first pass to start the transition game. He is smart in picking his spots to join the rush or to pinch in at the blue line. Edwards is poised with the puck at the blue line. His strong skating and lateral movement help him to open up passing lanes and he has the vision to set up teammates with offensive chances.
Regarding his defensive game:
He uses his good lateral movement and backwards skating to force his man to the outside and into bad shooting areas. Edwards is solid positionally and takes away passing and shooting lanes. His active stick can cause turnovers by stealing the puck from an opponent or intercepting a pass.
Here is some of what Bill Placzek of Draft Site had to say:
Speedy undersized defender with excellent four way edging and high end puck skills and decision-making capabilities. Firmly carries pucks out with head up in transition, and will fight off the opposing teams’ stick checks along the way. Has a quick stick defensively. Will funnel pucks towards the net offensively and has a good wrist shot.
Update 1: Here is what Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst had to say about Edwards:
Devils take heady defender Ethan Edwards at 120. Like his upside at a future top-4 and has good speed. pic.twitter.com/LDTPSiKcTH— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 7, 2020
Update 2: Here is what Justin Froese of Future Considerations had to say about Edwards:
8- Ethan Edwards, D, Spruce Grove Saints— Justin Froese (@FroeseFC) October 1, 2020
The numbers may not justify it but Edwards has the IQ, skating ability and skill to be the best junior A player to come out of this draft. He’s a new age defender who is a consistent 4th man in the rush and brings deception elements.
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic (sub. required) listed Edwards as one of his Top 10 Sleepers for the draft.
GT Analytics liked the selection by the Devils:
The Devils take Ethan Edwards at 120. He's very underrated. His even strength production suggests with more ice time and PP time he can be a significant producer. pic.twitter.com/g3PI1MlmGW— GTAnalytics (@GTAnalytics_) October 7, 2020
Finally, let’s see what Hockey Prospecting thinks about Edwards projection:
A Little Video
Here is his reaction to being drafted:
Musketeer defenseman Ethan Edwards has been selected by the New Jersey Devils with the 120th overall pick in the NHL Draft pic.twitter.com/AOlebwSomh— Sioux City Musketeers (@Musketeerhockey) October 7, 2020
My Initial Reaction to the Pick
For a 4th round pick, I don’t mind taking a mobile, projectionable defender. He hasn’t faced the highest level of competition in the AJHL nor should he be expected to go pro within the next few years but that’s fine. By all accounts his skating is fantastic, he has an offensive element to his game that could reach another level, and he’ll have time in college hockey to add muscle to his frame and improve his overall defending ability. I also like the fact that he’s jumping from the AJHL to the USHL to play with Sioux City this season. That will expose him to different competition and also help prepare him well for the college game. I think the Devils did well to get value by selecting him at this point in the draft. Like any prospect, he carries the risk of not panning out, but it seems like he could have a higher ceiling than your average mid round pick. I think the Devils did well here.
As we update this post with more information later today, please have your say about this prospect in the comments. Are you satisfied with this selection? What are your expectations for this prospect? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!
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