By Mason Lyttle
JANESVILLE, WI – Jets rookies Derek Schaedig and Jakov Novak were recognized Tuesday on the NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary ‘Prospects to Watch’ list.
The list is sent to NHL team scouts to track players eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and operates as a preliminary watch list before the first rankings are released in November.
This marks the fourth straight season in which a Jets goaltender has placed on the list, following Logan Halladay in 2013-14, Matt Jurusik in 2014-15, and Jack LaFontaine last season. Fifth year head coach and general manager Joe Dibble draws the trend back to an overall team trust in young talent.
“It all started a few years ago with Halladay coming in and being the first goalie in Jets history on Central Scouting,” Dibble said. “He came in at such a young age and proved that younger guys can earn the crease. We had him, then Jurusik and LaFontaine as high school kids in the net getting serious attention from Division I and NHL scouts.”
While Halladay (Merrimack) and Jurusik (Wisconsin) were heavily scouted and each earned their Division I commitments, it was LaFontaine who would become the Jets’ first NHL Draft pick in June when the Carolina Hurricanes called his name in the third round, 75th overall. Dibble, along with Jets goaltending coach Larry Clemens, see a future just as bright for Schaedig.
“Derek obviously had multiple choices in our league as far as where he wanted to go,” said Dibble. “The past few goalies in Janesville have made it a destination spot for goaltenders to come hone their skills and get NCAA and NHL attention. Jack getting drafted made it that much more intriguing for prospects like Derek. When I talk to Larry about Derek, whether it was over the summer at main camp or even now, he thinks the ceiling is just as high, if not higher, than the previous goalies who have been here. That’s pretty remarkable when you look at where those guys have gone.”
As a senior for Chelsea High School, Schaedig won both the 2016 Ann Arbor News Hockey Player of the Year award and the Goaltender of the Year recognition from the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association. The 6’4” goaltender keeps a humble approach to the Central Scouting recognition, but admitted it was exciting to see his name on the list.
“It’s exciting to even be mentioned alongside those guys,” Schaedig said of Halladay, Jurusik, and LaFontaine. “Hopefully the team keeps on rolling and I can continue the trend that the guys before me have set.”
Schaedig, a 1998-born 6’4” goaltender, is off to a 6-1 start in his NAHL career and boasts a .909 save percentage, but, characteristic of one of Dibble’s Jets, is keeping his focus on team goals.
“I’ve never been a guy who has an issue with putting individual stuff aside,” he said. “If I push for my teammates, they’ll push for me, and we’ll all do great things.
Novak is also a ’98 with size, who scored his first two goals in the NAHL last Saturday in a 7-2 win over Brookings. The forward scored 37 goals and 21 assists in just 40 games for New Hampton School in New Hampshire last season.
“The first thing you notice about Novak is his size,” Dibble said. “He’s six foot three, over two hundred pounds, can skate, and can shoot the puck like a pro. What’s amazing is his release. At a young age, he already has the release of a pro hockey player, which a lot of us got to see this weekend on a couple of his goals. Ultimately, though, Jakov is also an extremely professional human, just like Schaedig, in the way he carries himself and prepares for his games. He’s a kid with an extremely high ceiling.”
Novak’s pair of goals in last Saturday’s win were enough to garner him the game’s first star. The physical power forward knows his strengths in his size, shot, and work ethic, but, like Schaedig, would rather focus on team goals than individual ones.
“Right now I’m just moving forward,” said the Canadian winger. “I’m not thinking about it too much right now. I want the team to do well. I’m focused on this team winning, and winning big. We’re gonna push for the Robertson Cup.”
The Jets are next home on Saturday, October 15th versus the Coulee Region Chill in another Battle of Wisconsin series for the Blain’s Dairyland Milk Can Trophy. Get your prorated season tickets by contacting the Jets front office at (608) 752-JETS, or go to www.janesvillejets.com for the regular season schedule, group ticket rates, and sponsorship opportunities. Stay connected to the Jets through Facebook (/janesvillehockey) and Twitter (@JanesvilleJets1).
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