Jake Sanderson – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Jake Sanderson

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

2019-20 Team: U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
Date of Birth: July 8, 2002
Place of Birth: Whitefish, MT, USA
Ht: 6’1” Wt: 185 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: D
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible


Let’s start with the fact that Jake Sanderson has the NHL pedigree. Son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson, it’s no wonder that the younger of the two has the skill and size to catapult himself into an NHL career. That said, pull him from the shadows of his father and Sanderson is an incredible player that has everything and more to make the jump to the next level.

He’s projected to be the top American selected in the upcoming NHL Draft – whenever it happens – and is the second-highest ranked defenceman behind Erie Otters’ star Jamie Drysdale, though it is arguable that Sanderson’s all-around game could be further developed than Drysdale’s game.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

Sanderson’s stock rose following January’s All-American Game and he’s remained one of the top prospects for the upcoming draft. He has the skating ability that can control the pace of play and plays both sides of the puck with determination.

He sees the game at a different level and finds seems to make the transition from defensive zone play to offensive attack seem effortless. Still, he has room to grow and a ceiling much higher than most of the defensive options in this draft.

Jake Sanderson USNTDP
Jake Sanderson, USA NTDP (Credit: Rena Laverty)

As for his numbers from the 2019-20 season, as the captain of the U18 U.S. National Team, he finished with seven goals and 29 points in 47 games. While he’s currently committed to the University of North Dakota, things could still change depending on where he goes and what development that team believes he needs to get to that next level.

Related THW Draft Profiles

Jake Sanderson – NHL Draft Projection

Like many of the prospects ranked in the second tier of the first round, Sanderson is projected to go anywhere from 15th to 30th overall in the upcoming draft. That said, his size and ability to control the play along with his innate leadership qualities makes him a likely pick on the higher end of that spectrum. Aside from Jamie Drysdale, Sanderson should be the next highest picked defenceman in the draft and could be taken just outside the top-10, somewhere in the 11 to 15 range.


“I’d be shocked if Jake Sanderson isn’t selected top 10 in the draft. He plays the game so efficiently, defends so hard and can jump into the play and add offense… he’s the prototypical modern-age defenseman. I know other defensemen get more notoriety because of the points they put up, but the beauty of Jake Sanderson is more you watch him, the more you start to appreciate what an unbelievable defender he is.” – Seth Appert, NTDP U18 head coach

“Sanderson is an outstanding talent capable of taking charge and controlling the play with his elite skating, sharp presence of mind and high-end puck skills.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting

“Sanderson is the straw that stirs the drink for this year’s NTDP. He is a plus-plus player in multiple areas, and Sanderson is one of the few draft-eligible defenders who can outshine the most impressive of forwards when it comes to puck control, decision making, and generating offence inside the opposing end.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst


  • Puck control
  • Skating/speed
  • Defensive play
  • Hockey IQ


  • Size and strength
  • Sure up his raw skill

NHL Potential

Putting aside what this kid is capable if he can round out every inch of his game, he already has the potential to be a top-four defenceman on NHL teams in the next couple of years. Add to that how quickly he’s eclipsed expectations in the development program and Sanderson could easily find his way into a top-pairing roll as he grows in his NHL career and gains more experience at that level. It won’t take him long to crack an NHL roster, but his role and top-end play will come with time.

Risk/Reward Analysis

Risk – 2.5/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 7/10, Defense – 8/10


With a lot of room to fill in the trophy case, Sanderson does have a couple of accomplishments worth talking about. He was a member of the 2016-17 Alberta Cup Champion Calgary Flames Bantam AAA team and also took home a WHL Cup silver medal in 2017-18.



The Hockey Writers