Winterhawks' Jarvis waits, and waits, for NHL draft
His breakout season cut short by the coronavirus, Seth Jarvis is doing his best to prepare for the NHL draft while obeying social distancing recommendations.
The top scorer for the Portland Winterhawks this season and a projected first-round NHL pick, Jarvis is home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The facility where he trains is closed, so Jarvis is doing what he can to stay in hockey shape as he waits to learn when the draft will happen. Originally scheduled for June 26-27, it has been postponed.
"All the gyms are closed," Jarvis said during a Thursday telephone interview. "I got my hands on a stationary bike that keeps me in cardio shape for whatever comes up. Then I have a few weights downstairs and then I work on shooting pucks and stick-handling."
The puck and stick work he does in his backyard, where he puts down a pad on a slab of concrete and shoots at a net.
That's not the way Jarvis expected to spend his spring. He and his Winterhawks teammates were focusing on chasing a Western Hockey League championship, but that dream died on Monday when the league called off its postseason amid COVID-19 concerns.
"The season finishing the way it did was not what anyone hoped for," Jarvis said. "I feel especially for the 20-year-olds, Gilly (Lane Gilliss), Quigs (Matthew Quigley) and Greesh (Jake Gricius), who aren't going to get another shot to play for Portland.
"You kind of accept the reality. This virus is bigger than a hockey season. It's more important to stay safe and stay healthy."
And for Jarvis, that includes trying to stay fit and ready to resume hockey activities ahead of the NHL draft. For the first week after returning home, he followed a plan set up by Winterhawks strength and conditioning coach Rich Campbell. This week, the 5-10, 170-pound center is following recommendations from his personal trainer, Mike Hellyer.
"Right now, it's a lot of cardio stuff. Also a lot of body weight stuff like push-ups," Jarvis said.
When the WHL canceled the remaining regular-season games, Portland had five left to play. The Winterhawks finished with the top winning percentage in the league and were awarded the Scotty Munro Trophy as regular-season champions.
"We all knew we had a special group," Jarvis said. "That we ended up winning the league was a good feeling, but it also leaves you wondering what could have happened going into the playoffs and hopefully the Memorial Cup."
In his second WHL season, Jarvis was a big part of Portland's success. In his 17-year-old season, he was second in the WHL in scoring (98 points). He led Portland in both goals (42) and assists (56).
"I'm most proud of the second half of the season. The first half, I played pretty good, but it wasn't up to the expectations I had," Jarvis said. "Coming back after Christmas is when I really saw myself playing the hockey I wanted to play."
Over the final 29 games, Jarvis produced 28 goals and 37 assists. He had points in 26 games, including three five-point nights.
"It was a mix of things. Everything started clicking after Christmas," he said. "Jaydon Dureau had an incredible second half again. Me and him working together really helped out. I think all the hard work kind of came to fruition then."
The success wasn't a surprise. Jarvis expected to have a big role in different situations in his second WHL season.
"When I was 16, I got to watch (Cody) Glass and (Joachim) Blichfeld do what they do best and go score a crazy amount of goals and set up plays," he said. "Coming into this year knowing someone was going to have to fill that role, that's what I aimed to do. I wanted to take charge, I wanted to take charge of the offensive and the defensive responsibilities. And I wanted to really put myself on the map. I think that's what I tried to go out there and accomplish."
With Jarvis playing a leading role, the Winterhawks went on a 21-game stretch without a regulation loss, a 19-0-1-1 run that had them atop the standings for much of the season.
"It was probably some of the most fun hockey I've played in a while," he said. "The energy in the locker room was great, knowing we were on a roll, and we wanted to keep it going, going in every day, working and putting however much effort was required.
"When it came to games, we were taking teams by surprise .. whether they were doubting us and didn't think we were a legit team … we kind of took it to everybody we played against."
The Winterhawks had one of the younger teams in the WHL, but never lacked confidence, according to Jarvis.
"At the start of the season, I think everyone had the confidence that we had something special in the locker room, especially with the kind of talent we had," Jarvis said. "(Goalie) Joel (Hofer) stood on his head for a lot of games, and we battled through a lot. Then that stretch when we went 19-0-1-1 kind of showed anybody that was doubting us that we were a legit team and we were there to compete."
Having raised his draft profile with his strong second half of this season, Jarvis is now starting to hear from teams working on their preparation for the draft. His agent, Scott Bonner, is connecting Jarvis with teams that want to chat.
"It's starting to ramp up in the last couple of days," Jarvis said. "I think when they finally set a date on the draft, that's when the talks (with scouts and teams) will ramp up."
What questions is he getting?
"They kind of want to figure out who you are as a person," Jarvis said. "They've seen you play enough. I think they just want to know what you're like away from the rink, what your family is like, stuff like that."
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