Future Plans: Dec. 23, 2014

Andrew Halipchuk
December 23 2014 02:25AM

Merry Christmas readers, today is the fifth installment of Future Plans. With players leaving their respective teams for camps and World Junior tournaments it’s been tough trying to rank them, but I’m going to try my best.

In the past two weeks since our last Future Plans, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate the St. John’s IceCaps had another tough stretch, winning just two of six games, posting a 2-3-1 record in that time.

In junior news three Jets prospects (Eric Comrie, Nic Petan and Josh Morrissey), were named to Canada’s World Junior Championship roster, while four other prospects were named to preliminary rosters and camps, (Chase De Leo – USA, Jan Kostalek – Czech Republic, Nikolaj Ehlers – Denmark and Pavel Kraskovsky – Russia).

Below is a list of Winnipeg’s top 10 prospects over the past two weeks, and reasons that they are positioned where they are on the list.

NOTE: I consider a Jets prospect to be any player whose rights are owned by the Jets and have not yet played 50 games in the NHL.

Without further adieu, lets get started.

#10: John Albert – C, St. John’s IceCaps (AHL) [Last Ranking: NR]
Selected: 6th Round, 175th overall, 2007 (Atlanta Thrashers)
Finally John Albert cracks my list for Winnipeg’s top prospects. One of the oldest prospects left in the Jets system, Albert has been up with the big club for just nine games, but his play as of late has led me to believe he might get called up soon should another body go down for the Jets. The Concord, Ohio-native averaged a point-per-game in six games, (3g, 3a) and is currently riding a two-game point streak.

#9: Connor Hellebuyck – G, St. John’s IceCaps (AHL) [Last Ranking: 9th]
Selected: 5th Round, 130th overall, 2012 (Winnipeg Jets)
Hellebuyck remains in the ninth position this week due to average numbers, and the lack of stats and meaningful games played by Eric Comrie these past two weeks. In four starts Hellebuyck was 2-2-0 and allowed 13 goals in that time.

#8: Andrew Copp – C, U. of Michigan Wolverines (NCAA) [Last Ranking: 4th]
Selected: 4th Round, 104th overall, 2013 (Winnipeg Jets)
The young American centre played in just one game over the past two weeks and managed just one assist in a 5-1 loss. Copp is now on Christmas break in the NCAA so he drops just out of lack of games playing at this point.

#7: Carl Klingberg – LW, St. John’s IceCaps (AHL) [Last Ranking: 8th]
Selected: 2nd Round, 34th overall, 2009 (Atlanta Thrashers)
Despites losing 66.6% of their games over the past two weeks, the IceCaps had a sort of reemergence of their top players in that time. One of the two key contributors for the team had been Klingberg, the Swedish prospect had three goals and a pair of helpers in six games, and is also on a two-game point streak, (like Albert noted above.)

#6: Eric O’Dell – C, St. John’s IceCaps (AHL) [Last Ranking: 7th]
Selected: 2nd Round, 39th overall, 2008 (Anaheim Ducks)
The final prospect playing in the AHL right now is Eric O’Dell and like Albert and Klingberg, he had a strong two weeks for the IceCaps, netting five goals and an assist in six games. I cannot wait for O’Dell to get his chance up with the big squad at some point this season.

#5: Jimmy Lodge – C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) [Last Ranking: 5th]
Selected: 3rd Round, 84th overall, 2013 (Winnipeg Jets)
After being left off USA’s World Junior Camp roster, Lodge had a so-so two weeks in the OHL, adding a goal and an assist to his season totals in three games played.

#4: Chase De Leo – C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) [Last Ranking: 6th]
Selected: 4th Round, 99th overall, 2014 (Winnipeg Jets)
De Leo had his December in Portland ended abruptly to go take part in the US National Selection Camp, but before heading to camp, the La Mirada, California-native had three points (1g, 2a) in three games with the Winterhawks and has a 12-game point streak waiting for him when he returns to Portland. De Leo remains in the running for a spot on the US National team in camp being one of 26 skaters left to fill 23 roster spots.

#3: Josh Morrissey – D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) [Last Ranking: 3rd]
Selected: 1st Round, 13th overall, 2013 (Winnipeg Jets)
What a busy two weeks its been for the former first-rounder, aside from playing in two games for his former team, the Prince Albert Raiders where he was a -1, he was the dealt to the Kelowna Rockets. But before he could join his new team he was off to Canada National Junior camp where he was successful in returning to the tournament for a second time. In two pre-tournament games against Russia and Sweden the Calgary-Native has netted two goals for his country.

#2: Nicolas Petan – C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)  [Last Ranking: 2nd]
Selected: 2nd Round, 43rd overall, 2013 (Winnipeg Jets)
Like Morrissey, Petan was named to Canada’s World Junior Championship roster and will be returning for a second time, looking for redemption after last tournament’s disappointing fourth-place finish. Petan didn’t play a single game for the Winterhawks in the past two weeks, but played in one pre-tournament game for Canada this past weekend.

#1: Nikolaj Ehlers – LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) [Last Ranking: 1st]
Selected: 1st Round, 9th overall, 2014 (Winnipeg Jets)
Once again Ehlers sits atop my list of Winnipeg’s best prospects, but he deserves it. The Danish stud has 47 points in 23 games with the Mooseheads this season, but did not play a game for Halifax in the past two weeks. He was playing for his homeland, Denmark, on their National Preliminary roster, and is almost a lock to make the squad this year. I have heard there are rumours that he may be traded at some point this season. More to follow when/if it happens.


Who’s In: John Albert (10)
Who’s Out: Axel Blomqvist (10)
Total Goaltenders: 1
Total Defencemen: 1
Total Centremen: 6
Total Wingers: 2

Now don’t forget, this is just my opinion, and I would like to know yours. Who do you think is Winnipeg’s top prospect? Is there a player not on a list you think should be? Who would you replace them with from this list? Be sure to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section bellow.

Until next time,

Andrew is a recent graduate of SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program, where he worked as the sports writer for SAIT's school newspaper, The Weal. He blogs frequently on his own website andrewhalipchuk.com, but will keep up with his new position with the Nation Network. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Moose_44.
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