An Experienced Rookie: Jacob de la Rose


All Habs Hockey Magazine is proud to provide a platform for guest writers to express their views on important issues.  Today, we present a piece on the impact of Canadiens forward Jacob de la Rose.  Your comments are welcome.

by Michael Ham-Fan, Guest Contributor, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)


MONTREAL, QC. – Nineteen-year-old rookie Jacob de la Rose has been nothing short of impressive since his call-up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on February 2nd. A 6-foot-3 centre, de la Rose has gained head coach Michel Therrien’s trust in this short 17-game stint with the Canadiens.

The young Swede is known to be a responsible two-way player and he has really showed the team that he deserves that reputation. He is relentless both on the fore-check and the back-check. He focuses his game on his defensive duties and on a defense-first team like the Habs, Jacob de la Rose is becoming an important piece of the current lineup.

He is already earning penalty-kill ice-time on top of centering the third-line, while more seasoned players like Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk are still playing as wingers despite being natural centres. Therrien constantly praises De la Rose, hinting in a post-game press conference, that he is the most responsible young player he has seen since a certain Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh.

“I’m obviously doing some good stuff, because [coach Therrien] keeps playing me.” – Jacob de la Rose

We all knew that he had the potential to become a great defensive forward, but lately, his offensive abilities have also been impressive. He has not put up a lot of points yet, but, as he is getting more and more used to NHL-level hockey, he is starting to get plenty of scoring chances. On Saturday, he was paired on a line with Lars Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly and that line combined for five hits and 10 shots on goal, with De La Rose getting two great chances to score.

Personally, the first time I watched De la Rose play was at the Canadiens Development Camp just after his draft in 2013. He impressed me with his fluid skating but looked like he could add some weight to his frame. He did just that. He is clearly bigger than he was two years ago and he still has potential to be even heavier without losing his speed. I also did have the chance to talk to him for a short while and he seemed like a down-to-earth guy, a bit on the timid side.

My friends at All Habs Hockey Magazine have had their eyes on De la Rose for several years with exclusive interviews at the 2013 and 2014 National Junior Evaluation Camps in Lake Placid. All Habs writer Malin Dunfors did a special Up Close feature on the Canadiens’ Swedish connection that featured De La Rose along with Mats Naslund and Peter Popovic.  Be sure to check out the links.

Back to his hockey abilities, De la Rose is playing better and better as the season advances. Fans and analysts watching the Canadiens are generally impressed with how smart he is. His style of play requires a lot of experience and he has, up to today, played like a veteran. That is pretty impressive considering he isn’t even twenty years old yet.

Why is that you ask? Well, Jacob de la Rose isn’t exactly new at high-level hockey. Yes, he is nineteen years old, but he has a lot of high quality hockey under his belt already, dating back to 2011 in Sweden.

He played for Leksand IF in the second-division Swedish league for two years from 2011 to 2013. During those years, he represented Sweden in the U-18 World Championship twice, winning one silver medal in one and captaining his team in the other. He then graduated, as an eighteen-year-old to the first-division Swedish Hockey League, where he played a full season. In my opinion, I think that is the biggest reason he plays such a smart and mature game. The SHL is known for developing good two-way players and is a tough league to play in.

From 2013 to 2015, he was also invited to play in three U-20 World Juniors Championships before getting his call-up with the Canadiens. His team won the Silver medal in the first two tournaments, and he again, captained the Swedish team in the latter one.

To sum up, at nineteen years old, Jacob de la Rose has won three international medals, captained the Swedish team twice, played half a season in the AHL and played a full season in the Swedish Hockey League with adults. That is a lot of experience for a young player.

Now, what can we expect from Jacob de la Rose in the future? I expect him to be a top-tier defensive player that will be recognized as one of the best in the league in that aspect. His offensive game is still up in the air. Although the signs have been encouraging recently, De la Rose does not possess a very electrifying offensive skill-set. His points will come off puck deflections and goals close to the net. He has shown glimpses of a good shot, but he is still very raw in the point production department.

I think that his ceiling is a second-line centre, but that he will be better fitted on a third line. I am not trying to make a comparison, but it is similar to the case of Jordan Staal, given Staal had a better offensive skill-set. They are both players that play a solid defensive game while being dangerous on the fore-check, but as we seen in the transition that Jordan Staal has made from a third-line center to a second-line centre with the Carolina Hurricanes, it simply hasn’t worked out. That is because the offensive output of this type of player won’t be consistent, mostly because they are defense-first players.

All in all, it is obvious that Jacob de la Rose plays a style that is fully adapted to the Montreal Canadiens’ current system. He is constantly coming back to help out his defensemen, that are asked to go deep in the offensive zone when the opportunity comes. For that reason, the young Swede is starting to be very appreciated by his coaches, his teammates and the fans.


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Michael Ham-Fan
Lien vers mes articles en français : -------------------Michael is a Staff Writer for All Habs Magazine. He completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the Université de Montréal and is now doing his Masters' degree at the Université de Sherbrooke in Clinical Sciences. Michael has been a hockey fan and a Habs fans pretty much all his life, so for the last two decades and a half. He was born in Montreal to a Chinese mother and a Honduran-Chinese father, so he is fluent in French, English and Cantonese. He understands Spanish and Mandarin but not enough to speak it. His objective in writing is to give information and to give his opinion. At no point will he try to act as an expert on the subject. Michael is humbled to be able to write on hockey and that has always been a dream for him. He attends a lot of hockey games and practices during the year (Habs, Juniors etc.) and when he is not at the game, he is watching them at home, so he will base his opinion a lot on what he has actually seen rather than what he has heard. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael est un chroniqueur pour Le Magazine All Habs. Il a complété un baccalauréat spécialisé en Psychologie à l'Université de Montréal et il est maintenant, à sa première année en maîtrise en Sciences Cliniques à l'Université de Sherbrooke. Michael a été un amateur de hockey et un partisan des Canadiens depuis les vingt-cinq dernières années. Il parle quotidiennement en français, en anglais et en cantonais. Il comprend aussi l'espagnol et le mandarin sans être très fluide. Michael a appris que la modestie et le respect étaient deux valeurs nécessaires dans la vie. Son approche pour écrire des articles est de donner son opinion basée sur de l'information concrète. Son but n'est surtout pas de se prendre pour un expert. Il assiste très souvent à des matchs de hockey (Canadiens, Juniors, etc.) et lorsqu'il n'est pas dans les estrades, il les regarde chez lui. Donc, son opinion sera basée sur ce qu'il aura vu, plus que ce qu'il aurait entendu. Donc, ses articles ne seront jamais écrits sous le point de vue d'un expert, mais bien celui d'un amateur qui veut susciter la discussion avec ses pairs.


  1. I have been very impressed by this young man. He plays solid smart hockey. He seems to improve every game, which to me means he’s learning. He has great hockey sense and often plays like a player with more NHL experience.

    • Yes, I agree with you. He really has great hockey sense. Sometimes, he can break up a play just because he is there and that is a question of instincts, something that you can’t teach. De la Rose also seems to be a very fast learner, so for the things that you can teach him, he absorbs that efficiently too. He sure seems like a coach-friendly player to have.

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