Draft Class Deep Dive: RHD Jamie Drysdale

Tony Ferrari


Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters, the near-consensus top defender in the 2020 NHL Draft.


Jamie Drysdale has been the near-consensus top defenseman in the 2020 NHL Draft for much of the year. His elite-level skating and transitional play are among the best in the draft class at any position. The draft class isn’t chock-full of defensive talent but there have been a few names that have separated themselves and Drysdale heads that pack. With Jake Sanderson‘s rise in the second half, some have begun to call into question whether Drysdale is truly the clear-cut top dog. Other prospects such as Kaiden Guhle and Braden Schneider have been garnering the attention of mainstream media outlets and players such as Emil Andrae, William Wallinder, and Helge Grans and capturing the attention of analysts across the spectrum. Drysdale seems to be one of the less talked about defenders in the class.


To many, Drysdale has nothing to prove to retain the pole position among defenders. With the lack of a future number one defender in the mold of a Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, or Miro Heiskanen, the young Erie Otters defender is one of the few that have a real shot at becoming a true top-pair defender. His defensive play lends itself to the modern style of game and where the sport is going and his skating and transitional play allow him to be effective in all situations.


Jamie Drysdale’s Elite Prospects Information


Despite the presence of so many high-end offensive talents up front, the last time a draft featured the first defender coming off the board outside the top-five was 2003 so expecting Drysdale to be selected in the top-five is more than reasonable despite the fact that he may not be the best player available at that point. He was a stud for the Erie Otters all season long and surprised some by making the Canadian World Junior roster as a draft-eligible defenseman. His role there grew as the event went on and the confidence that he earned from that team carried on to the rest of the season. So what is a team getting in Drysdale (jersey #4 for Erie, #6 for Canada) and what role can he play at the next level? Is he the offensive dynamo that some have been led to believe? Is his defensive game a bit of a disaster as some have complained?

Skating and Mobility

One thing that is often said about Drysdale is that he is an elite skater. When you watch the tape, it’s impossible not to notice his mobility in all directions. He has the escapability that teams covet in defenders, especially smaller defenders. He has the agility and edgework to create space for himself in all three zones and the puck handling to do all of it with control of the puck. His stride is technically sound and doesn’t require a lot of effort. He seems fluid and effortless as he maneuvers around the ice.