Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who is Scott Jacklin?

(Scott Jacklin)

A lot of heads turned when the Smoke Eaters traded leading scorer Chad Gehon to Merritt (and eventually Westside) for Scott Jacklin. How can you trade a top ten scorer for someone with 18 points? Well I think a lot of Trail fans are going to become big fans of the Kimberly native.

The BCHL is a league of opportunity. Just look at Nick Sandor. He had 3 points last season in Alberni Valley, but with Trail he's a point per game player. Right place, right time, right opportunity... right player. If the coaching and scouting staff does a good enough job, they can find a player who fits their system and will produce in the right opportunity. Scott Jacklin reads like one of those players.

Before I get into it though, here's an interview with Scott I did today for Mountain FM's Overtime.

New Smoke Eater Scott Jaclkin

Click here to download

First of all, 18 points in 32 games is nothing to sneeze at in this context. Jacklin was not playing top 6 minutes in Cowichan this season. They have a loaded, veteran forward group and playing time was hard to come by. Despite that, Jacklin's points per game number is the same as Trail's young offensive force, Travis St. Denis. It's also tied for sixth on the Smokies behind only the likes of Ryan Bulach, Nick Sandor, JF Boisvert, Paul Mailey and Brett Corcoran.

This is an 18 year old second year player who is still producing those kind of numbers despite limited ice time and an admitted recent slump.

Jacklin produced at that same level last season as a 17 year old rookie in this league. The big question mark for him is not "can he produce 0.6 points per game?" it's "can he become a point per game player?" Even if he doesn't, a lot of players in the league would love to put up 0.6 points per game at his age.

Scott also admitted that due to slumping confidence he has been passing up too many shooting opportunities lately. Another player who admitted he passed up too many shooting opportunities and started to produce goals in Trail under Jim Ingram? Chad Gehon. Under Coach Ingram this season Gehon has 19 goals in 40 games compared to 11 in 45 last year. Gehon deserves a ton of credit for turning his game up to the next level, but certainly the coach had something to do with helping him get there too.

(Jacklin as a 16 year old in the KIJHL)

So what makes me believe (without having seen much of him) that Jacklin could be a big point producer here? Numbers don't lie. Take a look at Jacklin's history. As a 16 year old sophomore in the KIJHL, Jacklin scored 25 goals and had 67 points for the Columbia Valley Rockies. He scored at a 1.3 points per game pace as a 16 year old. That point total had him in a tie for 10th in the league scoring race with another pretty well known 1990 forward... Kellen Jones.

Unfortunately for Scott he didn't get to play on a line with Connor Jones and Hunter Bishop last season. Am I saying he's as good as the Jones twins? No, I have no reason to say that without getting to watch him play in a similar situation. What I'm saying is that he put up the same kind of numbers as the Jones twins at the same age. Anyone who can be among the top 10 scorers in the KIJHL as a 16 year old obviously has a lot of skill. Not to mention the fact that Columbia Valley was a mediocre fourth place team and he wasn't exactly surrounded by top flight veterans to help feed his point total. As 17 year olds in the KIJHL, Ryan Bulach and Chad Gehon put up about 1.4 or 1.5 points per game. Jacklin was just behind that pace as a 16 year old on a bad team. Jacklin also put up very respectable point totals so far in the BCHL without getting fed top line minutes at even strength or on the power play.

All I'm saying is that there's reason for optimism. If Jacklin produces at a 0.8 to 1.2 point per game level over this year and next (or even the next two) is that not worth trading two more months of Gehon? He likely won't cover all of Chad's production this season, but he should more than make up for it over time. Add the fact that Trail added Corcoran to the top 6 for Andrew Pickering who had been playing on the third and fourth line in Trail over the past two months, and I think it's fair to say this move shouldn't hurt immediate goal scoring totals.

The one thing you can say is that Trail didn't go out and buy an extra veteran scorer or defenceman for the stretch run. This is a community owned team so they aren't going to drop an envelope full of cash for any available veteran. If you want them to have the same resources to buy players that rich teams do you'll have to put more than 900 people in the seats for every home game. The Smokies all ready put more money into player recruitment and development than most community owned franchises. They also aren't going to ship off important pieces of a young team that they've been developing all season so that fans can be happy with some kind of a quick fix. If the Smokies win a championship this year, next year or in the future it won't be because of some high profile deadline scorer. It'll be because of hard work, dedication, passion and team concept from the first through the fourth line. That's how they got to first place in October. They just have to get healthy, get their confidence back and get back to what was working earlier in the season.

It's sad to see talented players like Chad Gehon and Andrew Pickering go. All I'm trying to say is that the impact of those trades isn't as simple as adding Gehon and Pickering's point total vs. Corcoran and Jacklin's. Opportunity could make fools out of early doubters.

Or not... this isn't an exact science. However, fans who are upset about moving Gehon should give Jacklin a chance before writing that trade off as a loss. Everything I see, read and hear about the young man gives me more reason to believe he's going to make Jim Ingram and his staff look pretty smart before it's all said and done.

Good luck to JF Boisvert, Chad and all the other all-stars participating in tomorrow's mid-season classic in Vernon. Tune into Overtime tomorrow night for updates from Penticton's charismatic play by play voice Ryan Pinder.

That trade analysis is still coming up sooner rather than later. I'll also have a little something on the visit of our Dutch Smokies fans and how generous this hockey community can be. I was very proud to be associated with this team after Saturday's gestures.

See you at the rink on Thursday!

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