#13. Jacob Bernard-Docker (Reader rank: 12, Last year: N/A)
Jacob Bernard-Docker is the second 2018 draft pick to make it onto the list. The Sens took JBD at 26th overall, after trading down with the Rangers for two picks. Sens fans were a little bit surprised by the pick when it happened. Trading down for two picks seems to be more of an analytics-based approach — stats show your odds of hitting on the two picks received is usually higher than the one higher pick. From Scott Cullen’s excellent draft pick value piece, the odds of hitting (>100 GP) on the 22nd-overall pick is about 54%, while the odds of hitting on at least one of 26th or 48th overall is 84%. However, the Sens then used their pick to reach on a guy rated anywhere from 25th (ISS Hockey) to 46th (Bob McKenzie).
The ruse was explained the next day, when the Sens took Jonathan Tychonick the next day. We’ll be looking at Tychonick in more depth soon. The Sens seemed to have committed to picking this duo. The two were first paired together at age 10, and have remained since. Rather than play the in WHL, the two played a level below (the AJHL for JBD, the BCHL for Jonny T) so they could commit to North Dakota in the NCAA together. (Playing Major Junior in Canada removes your NCAA eligibility - recent Canadian players to do the same thing include Tyson Jost and Jonathan Toews.) For better or for worse, these two will be linked by Sens fans. The two will be ranked together, discussed together, and even interviewed together, to the point that they joked they needed a break from each other after development camp.
JBC is 6’ 0” and listed at 187 lbs. His NHL.com scouting report (by Callum Fraser!) lists him as a strong defender with a heavy slapshot. He improved from 22 points in 54 games with Okotoks in 2016-17 to 41 points in 49 games last year, as well as 14 points in 15 games in their playoff run. Via Last Word on Hockey, his strengths include very good acceleration and smoothness, a strong slapshot and good timing on one-timers, the ability to wrist the puck through traffic from the point, gap control, and use of stick for takeaways. He may need to work on picking his spots to jump into the rush, defending proactively (he’s been said to have a tendency to puck-watch), and vision, especially when running a powerplay. Scouts claimed he likes to move the puck fast, which isn’t necessarily good for modern defencemen running powerplays. As Peter Levi noted, scouts seems all over the place. Some saw him as a solid two-way player, but with nothing special, while others said he was great at shooting, passing, and skating, just needing a little strength to be a difference-maker. It’s hard to know what to do with scouting all over the place.
My aunt and uncle often billet Okotoks Oilers players, and she had JBD live with her for a week before he found a permanent home. My aunt’s scouting report was that he’s “an awesome kid!! And a great hockey player!” So there you have it — someone who saw him most games thinks he’s great.
What we do know is that he will be a project. He’ll likely play a couple years at UND before we have a good read on him. And likely both he and Tychonick will be looking to turn pro together. I think Sens fans should be cautiously optimistic when looking at these two joining the team’s ranks in a few years.