The Vancouver Canucks selected 6’1″ defenceman Jacob Truscott in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He is a two-way defenceman who can play both sides on the backend and is quickly learning how to grow his game and be known as a defenceman who can be trusted in all areas and all situations.
Truscott showed good puck-possession skills in his draft season when he played at the United States National Team Development Program. When he arrived at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2020, Truscott had to change some of his game so that he could immediately draw into the Wolverines’ lineup. Truscott worked at becoming a trusted penalty killer and that helped earn him more time in his second year with Michigan.
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“I thought I had more opportunity than I did in my first year with Michigan,” said Truscott. “Every year, I want to get better and accept a bigger role with this team and I think that’s something I did well this year. I was able to get more opportunities, play top minutes, and get on the penalty kill. It’s very competitive back there and I thought everything turned out well. My main goal is to get better and continue to get better every year. I think I did a good job of that this year and was able to focus on my defensive game. I feel I made strides as a penalty killer. When [Owen] Power and [Luke] Hughes were gone for the Olympics and World Juniors, it allowed me to step up to a role on the power play — it was nice to get some touches there. Overall, I’m feeling pretty confident going into next season.”
As a part of a loaded NCAA team, Truscott found a spot alongside Quinn Hughes’ brother Luke for a majority of the season. Truscott learned to be accountable defensively as Luke Hughes was aggressive with his pinches into the offensive zone and needs to play with a partner who can be trusted to be defensively responsible and make a good first pass out of the defensive zone.
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Luke Hughes led all defencemen for scoring in the NCAA and was electric to watch in his freshman season. A lot of those rushes up the ice required Truscott to stay back more than he has in the past but it forced him to play a more defensive role than he ever has in his young hockey career.
“I wanted to keep improving on my defensive game and I was able to make a lot of big strides,” said Truscott when asked about adjusting his game to play with Luke Hughes this past season. “Whether it be positioning, being more physical or having a good stick — I think I got a lot better at those little things that add up in the defensive zone. I was pretty confident stepping on the ice every time and being reliable defensively and playing with Luke was a good role for me this year. He’s a really offensive defenseman, so I was there for him and helped him out by being there for him defensively. It was good for me to step in that role, and now, going into next session, hopefully, I’ll add some more offence.”
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Truscott describes himself as a two-way defenceman who really learned how to make improvements in the defensive zone this past season.
His play at the USNTDP showed that there is offensive upside to his game but has only scored three goals in his two-year NCAA career. Truscott finished this season with two goals and 15 assists, which was good enough for 70th in the NCAA for scoring from a defenceman. Truscott has shown a strong shot at times in his NCAA career but caught a few posts and crossbars in hist first two seasons.
After taking a big step in his defensive play this season, Truscott’s goal for 2022-23 is to continue to grow his defensive game but take a big step in his offensive output. Truscott is a good passer from the defence and it was the part of his game that we identified as the most exciting part of his game after diving into the tape after the Canucks drafted him in 2020.
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I feel my defensive game got to a pretty good spot this season,” said Truscott. “Obviously, I still need to work on a lot of things in the defensive zone but at the end of the day, I want to be a really good two-way defenceman that can move the puck quick. Going into next year, I want to be able to provide more offence and make more plays and set up more scoring chances. After the steps I took defensively, I feel my play in that end will be there and I think I need to focus a little more on having poise with the puck and make better decisions offensively. defensively. Being known as a two-way defenceman with defensive upside is something I really want to strive for — that’s the role I want to play at the next level.”
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Before he returns to Michigan for his junior year, Truscott will participate in Canucks development camp at UBC in July. He is very excited about the chance to come to Vancouver, meet a lot of the other draft picks but also see where his skill stacks up against the prospects who are close to playing in the professional ranks. Truscott is expecting a lot of competitive play at the development camp and is looking forward to proving himself to the organization.
Truscott is spending the beginning of his summer taking classes at Michigan to set himself up for an easier semester when hockey is going on. He will be training with the USNTDP before the development camp.
The sources that I talked to around the Michigan scene mentioned that the coaching staff looked to gain trust in Truscott throughout the season. The expectation is that Truscott will be playing with Hughes again next season but will be in a top pairing role with 2021-22 top pairing Owen Power and Nick Blankenburg moving on to pro hockey.
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This was a year for Truscott to learn and develop and he wants his play to garnish more attention this year. Truscott will definitely get our attention here at CanucksArmy if he ends up playing on a top pairing with Michigan while being an active contributor on the penalty kill. We’re excited to meet the kid out at UBC this summer and see how his game stacks up against fellow defence prospects like Viktor Persson, Joni Jurmo, Jonathan Myrenberg, and Toni Utunen.