Hurricanes’ prospect Slavin bettering game in USHL

By Tom Schreier
Jaccob Slavin - Chicago Steel

Photo: Carolina Hurricanes prospect Jaccob Slavin, shown here at their prospect camp, will move on to Colorado College in the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Jamie Kelleher/HF)

Better and better.

That is how Chicago Steel head coach Scott McConnell describes defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s game.

The 6’1, 175 lbs. defenseman that averaged a point every two games in his first full season in the USHL went overlooked before joining the junior ranks. He wasn’t even listed by NHL’s Central Scouting before joining the Steel and last year the Carolina Hurricanes drafted him in the fourth round, 120th overall.

“When [Carolina] drafted him, they saw a kid that for some reason is always around the puck,” says Chicago head coach Scott McConnell, “and kept getting better and better. I think they got a steal. Jaccob’s ceiling is untouchable.”

Slavin grew up in Erie, CO. Located 45 minutes north of Denver, football, skiing and snowboarding dominated the high school sports scene in Erie.

“I went to a normal public high school,” said Slavin. “I didn’t really play high school hockey at all because AAA was serious and high school hockey in Colorado wasn’t good.”

After spending a majority of the 2010-11 season with the Colorado Thunderbirds AAA club, he played 17 games for an abysmal Steel team that won only nine games that season.

While his team struggled, Slavin’s play drew interest from schools around the country and he committed to Colorado College for the 2013-14 season.

During those 17 games, Slavin played for McConnell, an interim coach from Colorado Springs. The following season, their first full year together, Slavin flourished.

“He’s a kid that probably played 30 minutes a game last year as a draft-eligible player,” says McConnell. “You don’t see that much in our league.”

Slavin models his game after former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nick Lidstrom and claims that poise is his strongest asset.

“I definitely have some confidence,” he says with a smile on his face.

McConnell says that Slavin’s decision-making is his player’s strongest asset, but the extra weight he put on between this year and last year has certainly helped him out.

“He was 160 lbs. last year,” says McConnell. “He’s 175, 180 lbs. this year and he’s going to keep getting better and better.”

He pauses to laugh. It is a sinister laugh—one of a villain.

“If he can be 6’3”, 200 lbs., he’s going to be one hell of a hockey player.”

In subsequent years, that laugh could be echoed in scout rooms from Colorado Springs, CO to Raleigh, NC.

“He’s going to get better and better as the games go on,” continues McConnell. “He’s gotten better and better as competition gets better. He’s getting better and better as he gets stronger and he grows up.”

No wonder the laughter is so sinister.

Like Colorado College and the Carolina Hurricanes after him, by putting Slavin on his team, McConnell pulled off a major heist.

Virtually unknown three years ago, Slavin just keeps getting better and better.