Photo Credit – Rena Laverty
Jake Sanderson is the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson. He is a dual citizen (USA/Canada), but chose to represent the United States.
Sanderson is coming off of his second season in the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He split his time between the US National Team Under 18 squad and the USNTDP Juniors squad. When you combine Sanderson’s numbers, he tallied nine goals and 34 assists in 66 games played.
Next season, Sanderson will be back in Plymouth, Michigan to represent the USNTDP. He will be playing with several talented American prospects including Luke Hughes, Jack Hughes (no relation to Luke Hughes, Quinn Hughes – Vancouver Canucks or Jack Hughes – New Jersey Devils), Aidan Hreschuk, Sean Behrens, Chaz Lucius, Jeremy Wilmer and Dylan Duke.
After the 2020-2021 campaign, Sanderson will be enrolling at the University of North Dakota and will be joining fellow USNTDP defenseman Tyler Kleven on their blue line.
DOB – July 8, 2002
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 6’1″
Weight – 185 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Sanderson’s Style Of Play
Throughout the course of the season, scouts and analysts began to notice how incredibly gifted Jake Sanderson is. No matter what zone Sanderson is in, he owns the ice. He is a robust two-way defenseman, who can apply tight gap control in his own zone and is elusive in the offensive zone.
In the defensive zone, Sanderson is tough to beat. If you are skating up the ice with the puck, Sanderson will track you, give you little room and will utilize his stick to steal the puck away from you. Not only does he possess the ability to provide a strong barricade and secure the puck, but he is also capable of booming open ice body checks.
There are only two things that I would like to see improve in Sanderson’s defensive game is his slot defense. At times, Sanderson’s positioning in the slot will be off and will let his attackers slip by him. If Sanderson can strength his slot defense and apply the same pressure that he applies on the left and right side of the ice, he will be tough to beat. The second thing that I would like to see improved is Sanderson’s decision-making when he is possessing the puck on the boards in his own zone. Sometimes, Sanderson will be playing the puck along the boards and there are three attackers lined up on the boards. In those situations, some of the time, Sanderson will attempt to fight through the traffic himself. If you are a defenseman looking to carry the puck out of the zone and facing three attackers, the chances of you getting the puck out is low. Instead, you leave yourself vulnerable for turnovers. I would prefer to see Sanderson utilize the boards and try to complete a pass along the boards to a teammate or just try to clear the puck by throwing the puck up the boards.
When you look at Sanderson’s transitional play, you immediately fall head over heels. The Whitefish, Montana native is highly productive at getting the puck from his zone to the offensive zone. The key thing is that Sanderson does not rely on controlled zone-to-zone transitions. He will alternate between zone exit passing, controlled zone exits/entries and zone entry passing. When getting the puck into the neutral zone, Sanderson has a vast amount of options in his tool belt. There are times where he will send up a saucer pass or a stretch pass to the neutral zone. Often, Sanderson will sell his opponents on a controlled zone-to-zone transition, which pushes his opponents to one side of the ice and suddenly he will double back to complete a pass to his defensive partner. This allows his defensive partner to have plenty of open ice. It’s plays like that which go unnoticed in a rather fast-paced game, but are essential for maintaining puck possession and creating scoring chances.
If Sanderson does carry the puck from zone to zone, he will make use of his strong crossovers, edges and pivots to work his way through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. In addition to his edge work, he has a wide stride and is able to step on the gas.
In the offensive zone, Sanderson thrives in the cycle. He does not sit back, he gets involved. Sanderson will pinch and work on moving the puck along the boards to keep play alive. If he faces tight traffic along the boards, he will complete a spin move to ensure that he has enough space to continue the cycle.
Sanderson has good vision. Regularly, we will see his defensive partner pinch and the forward group will neglect to cover. To ensure that the USNTDP will not be vulnerable incase of an offensive rush, Sanderson reads the puck movement and will cover his defensive partner if play picks up on that particular side.
Not only will Sanderson control the cycle and be defensively responsible in the offensive zone, he also possesses a strong wrist shot and will complete accurate centered pass/tape to tape passes to help key up scoring chances.
Mark Giordano, LHD, Calgary Flames
stats from eliteprospects.com