Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Jackson LaCombe.
Another prospect coming out of the famous Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep School, the amount of video on Jackson LaCombe is a bit limited. He put up 22 goals and 89 points in 54 games with Shattuck. He originally joined Shattuck as a forward, but early in his high school career, the team faced an injury crisis on the blue line. LaCombe made a temporary switch back to defence and has never looked back. That temporary switch soon became a permanent change of position. Last season, LaCombe was named to USA Today’s All-American team for high schoolers.
LaCombe also got some time with the Chicago Steel in the USHL, appearing in three regular season games and two playoff games. He also had the opportunity to play for Team USA in last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, playing five tournament games and helping the American squad to a fourth-place finish. LaCombe is committed to attending the University of Minnesota and playing hockey for the Golden Gophers next season.
Jackson LaCombe Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born January 9th, 2001 — Chaska, Minnesota
Height 6’1.75″ — Weight 187 lbs [187 cm/85 kg]
LaCombe is a fluid skater and this leads to his ability to play a strong two-way game. He moves well in both directions, with good top-end speed and acceleration. This allows him to get around the ice, joining the rush, pinching at the blue line and still getting back defensively. He also has very good agility and edgework. LaCombe is able to weave around forecheckers and get past defenders through the neutral zone. He could stand to add muscle to his frame and improve his core strength. This would make him stronger along the boards and in front of the net.
LaCombe can play as a puck-moving defenceman. He is able to retrieve pucks in his own zone and avoid forecheckers. He moves the puck up the ice quickly, with a good first pass, or through skating it out of the zone himself. LaCombe generates effective zone entries by moving the puck quickly through the neutral zone and finding space at the opponents blue line. Even without the puck, he is not afraid to join the rush as a trailer. In terms of passing, he could improve his ability to set up opportunities in the offensive zone. With the national team and the Steel, he seemed a bit hesitant to make the creative plays to set up chances in the offensive zone.
LaCombe’s biggest weapon is his wrist shot. He has a quick release and a hard and accurate shot. LaCombe loves to use this shot when joining the rush. He also can float down to the faceoff circles, firing the puck on the net. His slap shot and one-timer could be better. The power might improve as he adds more upper body strength going forward. He does a good job of moving laterally to open up shooting lanes and get his puck through traffic and on the net.
LaCombe’s skating ability helps his defensive game. He is strong against the rush and tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He maintains good gap control. LaCombe uses his skating ability to force opponents to the outside and away from the prime scoring areas. LaCombe has a quick stick, which he uses to poke check the puck away from attackers and steal passes. He has good positioning, keeping his body between his man and the net, and making sure he stays tight. One area that he can improve is his physical game. LaCombe needs to win more battles for loose pucks along the boards. Getting stronger and improving his balance would help here.
Projection and Comparison
LaCombe is a long-term project. Heading to the NCAA, he will see a big step up in the level of competition he faces next year. He also needs to add muscle to his frame. This should come during his time in college, as the weekend based schedule will give him time to hit the weight room during the week. LaCombe could become a top-4 defender in the NHL, but is several years away and will need effective coaching to help him along the way. In terms of style, his game is reminiscent of Jake Gardiner. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Jackson LaCombe that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Main Photo courtesy of Shattuck St Mary’s Prep School