11. Christian Jaros (Reader Rank: 15, Last Year: 11)
Christian Jaros managed to hold steady at number 11 on our list, which is quite the accomplishment considering the newfound prospect depth of the Ottawa Senators. The 23 year old could be a mainstay on the Sens’ blue line this coming season as one of just three right-handed defencemen in the system with NHL experience, but with left-handed Ron Hainsey likely playing on the right side, he will have to displace one of the veterans (Hainsey, Dylan DeMelo, Nikita Zaitsev) for a regular spot in the lineup. His presence at number 11 on our list means we think he might just be able to force his way into the NHL lineup again.
Jaros was a 5th-round pick (139th overall) in the 2015 draft — yes, the same draft as Thomas Chabot, Colin White, Filip Chlapik, Christian Wolanin, and Joey Daccord, which is currently a strong contender for best draft in team history. Very little was known about him at the time, with NKB only able to put together a one-paragraph summary since big prospect rankings like McKeen’s or Bob McKenzie’s didn’t even rank him. What we knew then was that he was big (6’ 3”, 205 lbs), aggressive on defence, and had a big shot. He played the next two seasons mostly for Luleå of the SHL, finishing with 19 points in 86 games. He also was playing for the national Slovakian team by 2015, partially due to a lack of national depth, but at least in part because he was promising as teenager.
In 2017-18, he crossed to North America and played 44 games for Belleville, putting up 16 points in 44 games. The fact that he was able to hold his own in the North American game at age 21 had Sens fans excited for his future. He even got called up for two NHL games, getting his first taste of big league action.
Fast forward another year, and Jaros spent pretty much the whole season in the NHL. The season began with Cody Ceci hurt, opening up a spot for Christian Jaros on the right side. After just one AHL game, he was called up the NHL and never went back down, being told in mid-December to “get a place” in Ottawa. He ended up playing 61 NHL games, missing three games after injuring his hand in his first fight, and then a few more down the stretch with a recurring hamstring issue. He finished his first NHL season with a goal and nine assists, playing primarily on the third pairing behind Ceci and Dylan DeMelo.
Statistically, his first season wasn’t great. He finished with 43.2% of the 5v5 shot attempts (all stats via NaturalStatTrick.com), ahead of only Ben Harpur, Max Lajoie, and Justin Falk among defencemen to play 100 min with the Sens last season. However, context is important — after all, only two Sens players (Mark Stone and Nick Paul) were above 50%, and just two more (Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot) were above 48%. Putting up bad stats on a bad team doesn’t mean you’re bad. He played 366 5v5 minutes with Mark Borowiecki, more than twice as much as he spent with anyone else, and both saw an uptick in 5v5 shot attempts when they weren’t paired together. Historically, Boro hasn’t been the best at boosting people’s numbers. His next most common partner was Ben Harpur, an even bigger historical drag on stats, and even though Jaros saw a slight decrease (40.9% to 40.3%) without him, it’s hard to put that on Jaros. Essentially, he was a rookie playing on a bad team with players who generally don’t fare well in shot-based statistics, and his numbers were bad. It’s really hard to evaluate him based on the season that occurred. To say he played better with Chabot than with Harpur is something you wouldn’t even need to look at a spreadsheet to know. To say he was badly outscored and outshot on a team that was outscored 302-242 and outshot 2931-2429 isn’t newsworthy. It may take a couple years for this team to improve for us to get a better sense of what the Sens have in Jaros.
You could see flashes of what Jaros was known for this past season: gap control, defensive awareness, a hard shot. Hopefully as this team gets better, he’ll develop confidence and continue to grow as a defenceman. To end on a happy note, here’s Jaros’ first NHL goal, a hard, accurate wrister: