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NHL Draft Prospect: Luke Jaycox

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Player

Name: Luke Jaycox

Position: Defense

2014-2015 Team: Warroad(MN) High School/Lincoln Stars(USHL)

2014-2015 stats: HS: 14 games played, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points/USHL: 15 games played, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 158th among North American skaters

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Jaycox is a strong four-direction skater, with the ability to change directions very well. That mobility gives him a lot of options. He's extremely aggressive between the blue line and the top of the circles holding the zone in the offensive end, with the ability to get back and cover his position if needed. He doesn't panic when pressured with the puck on his stick, and is good at making a short, quick pass to a teammate to keep possession rather than punting the puck down the ice. He's also a player that plays with a physical edge and finishes checks well.

On the downside, Jaycox isn't a big offensive threat. He has the skating ability to be a defenseman that can jump into the play to give his team a favorable offensive advantage, but hasn't quite developed that timing yet. There's added risk because he hasn't played extensively at a high-level of junior hockey either also.

Is he trending up or down heading into the Draft?

Jaycox is a late bloomer. As a younger player, he had decent size, but was a bit awkward with his movement and struggled to handle the puck. He made huge transition in play from his junior season of high school to his senior season when he started to grow into his frame and his game started to smooth out.

A strong performance in this fall's Upper Midwest Elite League put him on the radar of many NHL teams. His high school season was derailed when he suffered a broken jaw(and while getting his jaw wired shut, also discovered that he had been playing with a broken wrist). He finished the season with 15 games with the Lincoln Stars, where he was decent, but not outstanding. He went a -3 over those 15 games, which isn't bad considering the last-place Stars were outscored by 36 goals in that stretch.

Where is he projected to go in the Draft?

Jaycox's stock likely resides somewhere between the fifth round and going undrafted. The likelihood of him reaching his maximum potential is a bit lower than some of the other prospects in the latter stages of the draft because there's just such a small sample size of data on Jaycox. But his strong upwards development curve over the past year and his potential ceiling make him a worthwhile late round pick.

How does he project as a pro?

Jaycox's projection likely tops out as a second or third pairing defenseman. He's not quite a natural enough offensive defenseman to see top pairing minutes. But his skating ability and toughness could make him a regular contributor at the NHL level.

Where will he go next?

Jaycox recently made a commitment to play his college hockey at Northern Michigan University. But first, he will make a stopover in the USHL, playing for the Lincoln Stars again next season. Jaycox is a project pick and the longer development timeline may be beneficial. It could be as many as four or five years before he's ready to sign a pro contract, but the payoff may be worth the wait.