WINNIPEG - We are long past the ending of the 2019-20 WHL season.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down all of the major junior league seasons and for players like Portland Winterhawk star forward Seth Jarvis, it was terrible timing. Jarvis was on a tear when the calendar turned to 2020 scoring 64 points in 26 games.
"The biggest thing was probably the confidence and my game just over the Christmas break, I became a lot more relaxed. I think that's what contributed to a big second half," said Jarvis.
"For just being frustrated (with the season being cancelled) I think personally yeah, it kind of hurts just not being able to go into the playoffs and to see what kind of damage we could do because we had a really good team. I think for the 20-year-olds, you really feel for them because they won't get another chance to play junior hockey."
Young prospects can get overwhelmed in their draft year. Jarvis said he was caught up in where he was ranked by draft experts early on in the season and that played a role in his slow start. But the pressure really took him off guard from the start of the campaign.
"Obviously you know there is going to be pressure with it being your draft year but I think it's a little underrated with how much pressure there actually is," said Jarvis.
"I'll be mentioned or tagged with something on social media and that didn't take me by surprise. But you would have a good game and you'd get tagged in a bunch of stuff and then maybe your head gets a little big. It goes the other way and you didn't have a really good game and you're being tagged by people and stuff like that. That was a big part of it that maybe I didn't realize was going to happen."
Jarvis is from Winnipeg and, in just under a month, it is expected he will hear his name called and find out who will own his NHL future. The 18-year-old has been putting up points for the majority of his hockey career playing for the Winnipeg Monarchs and the Rink Hockey Academy. It's not shocking when he discusses where his loyalty was growing up in the Manitoba capital.
"Right when the Jets came back (in 2011) they became my favourite team, I've never really waivered since," laughed Jarvis.
"Early it was the New Jersey Devils just because I was a really big fan of Martin Brodeur, but right when the Jets came back all that flipped and I became a big Jets fan."
Hearing Jarvis say he was a Brodeur fan gives anyone who watches hockey the thought that maybe he wanted to be a goaltender but that was not at all the situation.
"I liked all the equipment they were wearing and liked how it looked," said Jarvis.
"But I think I definitely made the right decision not switching over."
The Tuxedo outdoor rink is where Jarvis and his older brother Kayden honed their skills. The older Jarvis brother is currently a skills coach with Rink Player Development in Oak Bluff and takes credit for Seth's success on the ice. Kayden is six years older than his younger brother and the two were big rivals growing up.
"Especially when we were younger, it was a little bit crazy. I always wanted to beat him in whatever we did," said Jarvis.
"That kind of pushed me and probably pushed him a little bit. But now we're still competitive but definitely not taken to the level it used to be."
Kayden hasn't played a role in the preparation that Seth has had to do for the interview process ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft. Without the NHL Combine this season, the scouting and interviewing process has completely changed to digital from face-to-face. Jarvis feels his experience has and will help him going forward.
"When you get used to doing a few interviews you get progressively better at it so that's been a big key," said Jarvis.
"But I think I've had people around me whether it be my parents or my agent that have always helped me and sort of talked me through some points. Some questions that may be potentially asked that I can kind of work on answering and kind of get an idea of what could be coming at me."
Jarvis admits that he has come out of his shell and become more extroverted thanks to multiple media interviews and the subsequent chats he has had to do with NHL teams over the past couple of years. A fellow Winnipeger and former Winterhawk teammate Cody Glass has also been helpful in the preparation.
"I've heard stories about the weirder questions that can be asked. I haven't had too many that you kind of raise your eyebrows at or anything," said Jarvis.
"I've definitely heard stories especially with Cody. He got some questions that were kind of a little bit out there. I haven't got too many of those yet."
Glass was the captain of the Winterhawks when Jarvis arrived as a 16-year-old rookie in 2018. Glass had already been selected in the 2017 NHL Draft becoming the first pick of the then expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
"I got to play with him for a year so that was awesome just watching how he handled himself and how much of a pro he really is," said Jarvis.
"He's definitely been a mentor for me, he really helped me out through this whole (draft) year. I was able to ask him questions whenever I had any. Anything that kind of came up with me whether it be something I hadn't experienced or going to the Top Prospects Game I was able to ask about. So it was definitely cool to talk to him as somebody who has been through it before."
As draft day approaches, Jarvis is thrilled to represent Winnipeg one day in the National Hockey League.
"It's a huge honour with guys like (Jonathan) Toews and (Cody) Glass and all these other players that have come from Winnipeg. Just to have my name in that conversation with people that have been drafted from Winnipeg," said Jarvis.
"I'm so proud to be from this city and just to kind of represent it in that way is a huge honour for me."