Three hours and fifteen minutes into the NHL draft, the Blues selected Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Neighbours is already a pretty big body on the wing - he’s 5’11 and a hair over 200lbs. He isn’t going to crack the lineup out of camp, and he may not crack the lineup for a few years after that, but once he gets some seasoning in Juniors and works his way up, he should be a good fit for the Blues.
DobberProspects.com, in their profile of Neighbors, points out that he plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to use his body to win puck battles - but who is also blazing fast from the word go. He might not be creative, but the Blues have other players for that. If you want a player to get the puck to the net, and most teams do, Neighbors is that guy.
He boasts playmaking ability, especially off the boards, has a decent motor with solid defensive fundamentals, and is sturdier than a refrigerator. Opposition defenders step up on him, then crumble to the ice. He’s a brick wall. And a brick wall who can set-up teammates with some pace and deception have value.
He was ranked 26th overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and 26th overall by ISS Hockey. He’s a team-first guy (though honestly, find a hockey player who isn’t team-first during an interview). In his WHL profile, Neighbors says:
“For the me, the biggest thing in the way I play the game is team success leads to individual success,” Neighbours said. “With our run last year, we came into the year with a little bit more experience and knowing that we were going to be a bit more of a threat around the league.
“The biggest thing was to just contribute as much as I could to a team game and it would lead to individual success. That’s been my game plan so far and it’s been working out.”
Neighbours finished last season with 70 points (23G, 47A) in 64 games. His tenacity should get him a nice long look from the Blues coaching staff. If they remain constant for a few more seasons, Craig Berube should like what he sees when Neighbours cracks the NHL roster.