The hidden value of a second-round pick

Jacob De La Rose's role continues to expand during the Canadiens' drive to the playoffs. Francois Lacasse/NHLI/Getty Images

It’s interesting to watch, as the Montreal Canadiens fight for position at the top of the Eastern Conference, the ice time grow for prospect Jacob De La Rose. The 19-year-old Swede isn’t lighting things up offensively, but he is clearly earning the trust of coach Michel Therrien -- who doesn’t just hand out ice time to teenagers. He went from 9:23 against the Bruins to 11:49 against the Flyers and currently finds himself in the 14-minute range the past two games.

He brings some size to a team that needs it and also plays with smarts beyond his years. It’s impressive, and it’s also a reminder that these draft picks being thrown around right now as trade fodder eventually become players. Really, it doesn’t take all that long.

De La Rose joined the Canadiens organization with the second-round pick the team acquired in the Feb. 27 deal that sent Andrei Kostitsyn to the Predators in 2012.

That was the same season the Predators acquired Paul Gaustad for a first-rounder, a pick that eventually turned into Zemgus Girgensons when the Sabres spun it into a higher pick in that draft.

In later years, the Predators did well to restock their system with young players, but teams are well aware of the importance of young players constantly coming in their system. It’s why prying a first-round pick for a rental is harder than ever, and some teams are even hesitant to move a second.

“The second-round pick has become the currency of choice on deadline day,” said one Western Conference executive.