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Canucks Army 2017 Pre-Season Prospect Ranking #17: Jack Rathbone

I have to admit that when the Vancouver Canucks selected Jack Rathbone with the 95th overall pick in the fourth-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I was taken aback.

For starters, Rathbone was a high school prospect, and everything we’ve learned about players coming from that set of leagues indicates they’re usually not the soundest bets at the draft. Only compounding matters is the fact that Rathbone won’t even be going to the NCAA next season, as he plans to spend another year at Dexter High School.

It’s not just hard to figure out what Rathbone is as a prospect now, but it’ll likely be difficult to gauge where he’s at for at least another season. Rathbone won’t have faced high-level competition until his draft-plus-two season. That’s concerning.

The Canucks have certainly earned the leeway to make seemingly iffy decisions when drafting from the United States, though. So let’s try and see it their way, and find out what qualities in Rathbone’s game drew them to the undersized blue liner. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Certainly, I’m starting to see the light.

Qualifications

We’ve changed the qualifications up just a little bit this year. Being under the age of 25 is still mandatory (as of the coming September 15th), but instead of Calder Trophy rules, we’re just requiring players to have played less than 25 games in the NHL (essentially ignoring the Calder Trophy’s rule about playing more than six games in multiple seasons).

Graduates from this time last year include Brendan Gaunce, Troy Stecher, and Nikita Tryamkin, while Anton Rodin is simply too old now, and Jake Virtanen is not being considered solely as a result of his games played.

Scouting Report

I haven’t had the chance to watch Rathbone live, yet, but much of what I’ve read suggests he’s worth the price of admission. Standing at just 5’10”, Rathbone is an offence first rearguard. He generates his offence more through his skating and his intelligence than a booming shot.

Ryan Biech was at the Canucks Prospect Development Camp, and had this to say on Rathbone based on his stay.

Observing Rathbone at Canucks Development Camp practice on Tuesday and the game on Thursday, his skating was immediately apparent. He was very fluid in his movements and had the ability to pivot with speed. Despite his smaller stature, he was able to use his noticeable skating skills to keep forwards to the outside. His first pass out of the zone was usually right on the tape of his teammates, or he was able to take a couple of strides to create lanes.

Those observations align closely with the ones that www.HockeyProspect.com makes in their BlackBook for the 2017 Draft.

Rathbone stands under the 6-foot mark although moves well on his skates with acceleration, lateral movement, pivots, and agility. He handles the puck well showing poise and will outlet the puck up the ice with good decisions. Rathbone has the ability to escape pressure very well. He shows good offensive awareness as he will rush pucks or jump in the play. His shot is adequate and he will find shooting lanes with his mobility from the blue line. Rathbone has good potential to grow his game and is set to enter Harvard for the 2018-19 season.

On the negative side of the ledger, Rathbone was physically outmatched by many of the Canucks prospects at the development camp. That was to be expected, though. As an 18-year-old who played almost his entire draft season in high school, Rathbone hasn’t faced many physically developed players at this point in his career.

If he adds some muscle and works on the defensive side of his game, Rathbone can fix these ills.

Of course, the high school element of Rathbone’s development arch means that getting to that point will be a slow burn. As Biech pointed out in an article about Rathbone earlier this summer, though, his delayed college debut grants the Canucks an extra year to evaluate the player before they lose their rights. It’s a double-edged sword.

I should also add that part of the reason Rathbone has foregone college next season is to spend another year with his brother, Teddy, who has autism. The two are downright inseparable by all accounts, and it’s as endearing a story as you’ll ever find. Rathbone certainly has his priorities straight.

There’s a lot to like about Rathbone’s game; whether those qualities will prove enough to warrant the Canucks investment in him is a story still in the making. It’s easy to get behind a player like Rathbone, though, even if it takes a little longer than usual to find out the ending.

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  • Killer Marmot

    I have to admit that when the Vancouver Canucks selected Jack Rathbone with the 95th overall pick in the fourth-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I was taken aback. For starters, Rathbone was a high school prospect, and everything we’ve learned about players coming from that set of leagues indicates they’re usually not the soundest bets at the draft. Only compounding matters is the fact that Rathbone won’t even be going to the NCAA next season, as he plans to spend another year at Dexter High School.

    The odds of a 4th-rounder having a decent NHL career are about one in ten. This suggests that going out on a limb, rather than making a more conventional analytics-backed pick, is justified.

  • Fred-65

    It’s a good gamble at the 95th slot in the draft. He could turn out to be a diamond in the rough but if he doesn’t work out you really haven’t lost a lot. I like their thinking

  • Bud Poile

    NHL.com article:
    Top underrated prospect
    Defenseman Jack Rathbone, No. 57 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 22 games serving as captain at Dexter School in Massachusetts. The left-handed defenseman, who jumped 21 spots from No. 78 on Central Scouting’s midterm ranking, will attend Harvard University in 2018-19. Rathbone, who has 18 team interviews at the combine this week, also had one assist and was plus-1 in four games for Youngstown of the United States Hockey League last season. He’s a dynamic skater who moves the puck quickly and possesses a good shot, according to David Gregory of Central Scouting.
    https://www.nhl.com/news/heiskanen-makar-rising-defensemen-at-nhl-scouting-combine/c-289677218

  • Tedchinook

    The other thing is he just turned 18 in May so the possibility exists that he may still grow an inch or so. With his skating if he turns out to be 5’11” and 190 pounds that will be plenty big enough.

    • DJ_44

      why is this ever a question for 18 yr old kids in high school? That’s akin to wondering if an 18yr old 6″2″ centre is going to put on strength as he becomes a man. Barring a serious hard drug habitat or untreated tapeworm…. it will happen.

  • RoCkFaThEr

    The Canucks have certainly earned the leeway to make seemingly iffy decisions when drafting from the United States, though. So let’s try and see it their way, and find out what qualities in Rathbone’s game drew them to the undersized blue liner. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Certainly, I’m starting to see the light.
    -J.D. Burke-
    I love it when your humility shines through.
    Stay gold Ponyboy….stay gold.

  • Canucks Realist

    It’s already going to be a long brutal and depressing season for the Canucks and useless stories like this and the PTO garbage does nothing to enhance or change that fact. This franchise is a disgrace under LinBenning

    Googling around the netlooking for any positives, this is the latest dose of reality from NHL.com that shocked me…

    ‘NHL.com recently published their lists of the top 20 centres, wingers, defenceman and 10 best goalies. Not a single player on the Vancouver Canucks appeared on any of the lists’
    Full story here…
    https://thecanuckway.com/2017/08/29/vancouver-canucks-players-snubbed-from-nhl-com-rankings/

    Typing in ‘worst nhl gms’ into google throws up tons of lists, with one man cemented firmly at the BOTTOM… his name is Jim Benning. tick tock…

    • Fred-65

      Most of the Worse GM’s ballots are lead by the many journalists & fans East of the Lakehead. If you are unable to distinguish the facts from the Eastern media so be it. Vcr team has under gone a transformation and is now heavy on the youth/prospects side of the ledger so stats are not the judge any longer. I’m not much of a Benning fan but I have to give the man his dues…. that’s if I choose to be thoughtful rather than knee jerk reaction prompted by media accounts. TO in particular had tough years while Vcr enjoyed success and they resent that, in fact hate that and now after winning the lottery ( great management needed to achieve the right ping pong balls) they’re in a spot to crap on every one else and man they will, as frequently as they can. Some will see it for what it is others will unthinking fall in line with the rest of the sheep. JB has done some good things and has also soiled the sheets, but most GM’s are the same. You want success in this league here’s the vital piece you need a Franchise grade draft pick some one along the lines of Matthews, McDavid, Crosby, Gretzky or Lemieux. Today ending up bottom of the league is not enough to achieve this, you need Ping Pong balls and Ernst and Young to help. The concept of the worse team gets the first pick has been thrown out and replaced with ping pong balls …. and there’s nothing Benning can do about that….REALITY

      • Canucks Realist

        Terrible post from you Fred. You usually have some decent POV, but you are way off in fairytale land along with others on here who do not go to the games or indeed watch other teams to see just how bad we are under Benning. Hell even the managing editor of this blog is convinced we will finish below Vegas!

        Fred, do you actually have any contact with real Vancouverite hockey fans, because I can assure you I do and know many ‘former’ Canucks ticket buyers who refuse to accept the sh^t show LinBenning is serving up like grool. This GM has had four drafts and 3 top six picks… ONE pick Boeser has made the team from 27 picks and he was a fluke lowfirst rounder that most GMs get once in their career.

        It’s nothing to do with ping pong balls, Eastern bias or the ghost of Roger Neilson… it’s all on inept management ala LinBenning, Fred… no more excuses.

        From the hockey news, compiled from FAN views…

        http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/front-office-confidence-rankings-part-2-fans-weigh-in-on-how-each-team-is-doing

      • Bud the Dud

        WTF does this have to do with the current Vancouver Canucks hockey club. Irrelevant ancient revisionist history ffs.

        Change your tune pr-ick, orbetter still FOAD. Your act is beyond tired and boring. NO ONE CARES about four years ago!

        Anyway, great points CR you are right, Jimbo is bottom of the pile on every current GM rankings… oh and yes, wake up Fred!

        • Bud Poile

          Tsk Tsk,might try to be civil and rational when on a public forum.
          Not.
          Benning certainly won’t be riding Gillis picks/trades – like Mikey rode Nonis’/Burke’s -into the finals any time soon.
          Like never.

          • Bud the Dud

            What like this…

            You’re a knob. Did I tell you that you are a knob? – Bud Poile
            You are the big, ugly clown show here – Bud Poile
            Yeah, you show us you come from ignorant, arrogant dick head school. – Bud Poile
            So stuff your ignorant comments, Rusted One. – Bud Poile
            Pi$$ off you jerk. – Bud Poile
            shove your act up your arse. I don’t drink, dick. – Bud Poile
            obnoxious, dickheaded twat. Get your f’n history right. You are incredibly ignorant. – Bud Poile

            Pot-Kettle-Black loser.

            Now go hide for a day or two as you always do when you get humiliated or threatened with action to get you banned.

            Oh, and don’t forget to mark down posts only relevant to you by signing in ten plus times. What a sad fu-ker you are eh.

          • Bud Poile

            It’s not a secret your endless ignorance/harrassment has facilitated my contempt for your act.
            I can only hope that somebody within CA has finally had as much of you as I have.

          • Bud the Dud

            YOU know where the door is whiner troll… you won’t be missed.

            “Bud has generally served to make the comment section an unwelcoming place not just for the authors but also for a lot of the commenters as well. ” – Jackson McDonald

            ”the least I could do is occasionally remind Bud that CA’s readership is constantly growing and if all he is going to do is be rude to other readers he doesn’t need to come back especially because this isn’t Tim Hortons and I don’t get brownie points for smiling and being polite while someone makes the work area a nuisance to be in for staff + customers. ” – Jackson McDonald

            Could it be any clearer – GO!!

          • Bud Poile

            It’s a shame Jackson has no idea that “a lot of commentators” are all you.
            Maybe he’ll actually read the blog one day.He’ll see your reputation and ‘input’ as many here do and press for a/your moderation.
            I’ve put up with a few bullies in my life and you are just another one on the list.
            Did I make myself clear enough for you or would you like it in Thai?