The Vancouver Canucks selected Jack Rathbone in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Rathbone is currently skating for Harvard University in the ECAC, and making some noise there while he does so.
The Canucks’ prospect pipeline is already flowing quite nicely, but nobody in Canucks-nation will be complaining about a promising defender.
Get to Know Jack Rathbone
Born and raised in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, Rathbone was exposed to the game of hockey at a young age. Like most great hockey players, he fell in love with the game rather quickly.
A talented hockey player with elite skating, he took after his father Jason Rathbone, who was a New York Islanders draft pick back in 1988. Jason coached his son during his time with the Cape Cod Whalers.
Following his stint with the Whalers, Rathbone began playing for Dexter School as a Harvard-commit. Rathbone did have the option to play in the USHL instead of Dexter, but after a very short stint with the Youngston Phantoms, he decided to stay home, largely for personal reasons.
Rathbone’s younger brother, Teddy, who was eight-years-old at the time is autistic and was making strong steps forwards in his speech therapy and school-life.
“He’s a big piece of my life, and I’m going to be honest, it would be tough to leave him for seven months out of the year at this stage… he’s probably my best friend.” – Jack Rathbone, in an interview with the Boston Herald.
Rathbone’s reach in his brother’s life extends from swimming with him in their backyard pool all the way to the unfortunate reality of being at his side during seizures. Regardless of how much he gives to Teddy, Rathbone says that teddy gives him so much more.
“His personality and the attitude that he brings to everyday life, he gives me a new perspective. He’s what drives me every day to be able to chase the dream of playing in the NHL one day because I know that he can’t. It’s tough to see.”
The 20-year-old is now one step closer to living out that dream, having gone from Harvard-commit to Canucks-commit.
Rathbone and the Canucks
The Canucks blue line has been nothing short of unsettling for the past handful of seasons and the prospect pipeline, in terms of D-men, looked bleak for quite some time. Now, with the drafting of players like Olli Juolevi, Jett Woo, and fellow collegiate player, Quinn Hughes, Rathbone is in good company.
Although he might not be as offensively gifted as Hughes, Rathbone does possess the skating ability to compete in a top-six NHL capacity.
Rathbone is starting to show some promising development, starting this season with Harvard at seven points in five games, earning a Rookie of the Week award earlier in the month. The biggest knock on the young man’s game is his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame.
“Undersized defender with good vision, high-end skating ability and grit. Very elusive and uses his shiftiness to move pucks out of his zone and to the attack, which he will hop in on. His low center of gravity give him the ability to cannonball opponents and knock them off the puck.” – Bill Placzek, www.draftsite.com
An undersized defender with great skating, vision, grit, and an offensive upside. That sounds eerily reminiscent of Canucks D-man, Troy Stecher, who also went the college route. Stecher’s offensive game hasn’t panned out as hoped but he brings an immense level of compete that is tough to replace, so for Rathbone to be relevant on the Canucks blue line, he’s going to have to either out-compete Stecher or find a way to be an offensive producer from the back end.
Regardless, the 19-year-old is still a few seasons away from getting some serious eyes from the Canucks. But, if he keeps playing the way he has so far this season, he could substantially trim down that timeline.
Jack Rathbone Verdict
A terrific skater with high hockey-IQ, who clearly has immeasurable heart, on the defensive end of the Canucks prospect pipeline, is a great fit for the Canucks organization.
Dan Donato, father of Boston Bruins forward Ryan Donato and Rathbone’s coach at Dexter, says he has all the qualities of a quality NHL player, despite his small size.
“He comes from a great family, great upbringing and I never have to worry about pushing him. He’ll push himself. And with his relationship with his younger brother, I think it gives him this compassion and patience that makes him a great leader. He’s great with some of the younger players. It’s part of the reason why he was a captain as a junior.”
If the beginning of this season is any indication, then I think the Canucks may have stumbled onto a terrific fourth-round steal. It’ll be a few seasons before we start to hear Rathbone’s name in Canucks conversations, but in the mean time, he can only keep getting better and continue bolstering his reputation.
What do you think about Rathbone? Let me know in the comments below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.