It certainly hasn’t been the NHL career that many envisioned for Jacob de La Rose when the Montreal Canadiens selected him 34th overall in 2013. A big, physical center that had already played at a high level in Sweden as a teenager, de La Rose’s offensive game was supposed to mature and develop in North America. It never did, with his best offensive year coming in the AHL when he scored 31 points in 62 games for the St. John’s IceCaps. In his 242 NHL games, split between the Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and St. Louis Blues, the 6’3″ forward registered just 38 points. Now, as restricted free agency approaches for the final time, de La Rose is going back home.
The 26-year-old has signed a three-year contract with Farjestad BK in the SHL, meaning that even if the Blues qualify him this summer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent by the time this deal expires. It’s hard to even envision him returning to the NHL at this point, given how rarely he was given more than fourth-line minutes throughout his career. Through those 242 games he has averaged fewer than 12 minutes a night, and that is skewed heavily by his usage early on. Unless an offensive explosion happens in Sweden, this may be the last you hear of de La Rose on this side of the pond.
If that’s the case, it is just another poor outcome for a player selected high by the Canadiens in the mid-2010s. de La Rose followed first-round pick Michael McCarron in 2013, with Zach Fucale coming two picks later. In 2014 it was Nikita Scherbak and Brett Lernout with the first two picks, and in 2015 Noah Juulsen and Lukas Vejdemo were the team’s top two selections. Amazingly, it’s perhaps 2014 seventh-round pick Jake Evans that will make the biggest impact from those three classes (honorable mention to Artturi Lehkonen), after his strong performance as a two-way player this season.