No. 12: Christian Jaros (Reader rank: 17, Last year: 16)
Christian Jaros gets compared to one player far more often than anyone else: Mark Borowiecki. Maybe it’s because of his thundering hit on Sebastian Olsson that’s being shared across the web, or maybe it’s because of the general physical tone with which he plays. Either way, I believe Jaros is much more capable than being a gritty, bottom pairing defender, as he’s shown in his past few seasons in Sweden and most recently in development camp.
Jaros adds to an impressive haul for the Sens at the 2015 draft, being taken in the fifth round at 139th overall. Even though he had an extension with Luleå in the SHL for another three years, he showed his commitment to making the NHL by signing an entry-level contract in May. Next season will see him make the transition to North American ice, likely anchoring the top pairing on the right side.
As for Jaros’ style of play, he brings the whole package. He has the tools to play physical (listed at 6’3”, 214 lbs), although he’s also brisk on his feet. He has a wicked shot, and can also make a crisp breakout pass. His point totals in the SHL don’t have the shock value of someone with an offensive skillset (13 points in 36 GP), although that still puts him in second place for points-per-game amongst defencemen aged 21 or younger. Keep in mind that this is all while playing against professional players.
Jaros also cut down on penalty minutes last season, going from 45 in 25 games the previous year to 22 in 36 games.
He’s received high praise from the front office staff, most notably Randy Lee, saying that he could be ready for the NHL as soon as this season. A quote from development camp:
“He’s not a shutdown guy. He’s an offensive guy, he plays the power play, he’s got a good shot, he moves the puck well and he likes to play a physical game.”
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I think he’s going to be one of those guys you consider for a call up during the season. There is a transition from the European game to the North American game, but since he played big, important minutes in Luleå, I think he’s going to surprise people this year.”
From a bit of a more unbiased perspective, here’s a quote from Brad Phillips at Dobber Prospects:
“Prior to this past season, Jaros was seen as being a strictly defensive, shutdown defensemen. But then he went out and had the best offensive season of his career to the tune of five goals and eight assists in 36 games, all the more impressive given that Luleå was a brutal offensive team. He saw a significant uptick in ice time of three and a half minutes over his 2015-16 numbers, averaging over 18 minutes a game and increased his shot rate by half a shot per game. He's built like a tank but still needs to get quicker in order to make it to the next level.”
Adding my perspective from development camp, I thought Jaros was significantly faster than I’d expected, especially during the drills and the 3-on-3 tournament. His puck control can still be worked on, although I believe he has the right tools to make it to the NHL, and soon. Add this to his pre-existing resume that includes captaining Team Slovakia at the World Juniors (2016), being named a top-three player on his WJC team in consecutive years (2015 & 2016) and experience at the World Championships as a 20-year-old (2016), you can see how Jaros is a prospect worth getting excited about.
His transition to North America definitely makes Christian Jaros a prospect worth keeping tabs on, as him and Thomas Chabot should make for a fresh first pairing to likely start the year in Belleville.
You can watch the Sens’ prospect profile on Jaros from the 2017 development camp here.