The Jets Development Camp started yesterday. All ten of the Jets draft picks this year are in attendance among the 43 prospects on display. For the first time since Comeau took over as Head Scout, skill is the buzz word surrounding a crop of picks, and with good reason.
There were reams of pixels spilled about the Jets and Thrashers poor draft record under Marcel Comeau. Our friends at Arctic Ice tried to lower expectations via infographic. I, myself, looked at Comeau’s record between 2003 and 2010 to find a pitiful success rate after 12th overall – just Pavelec and Enstrom can be counted as successes from 54 selections made in the latter 200 picks. The conclusion was obvious. For a rebuilding team, Marcel Comeau’s record demanded he be let go.
The Jets draft this year, then, has to be considered as much surprising as it was successful. Sure, the idea is to get good players. I just didn’t know if Comeau knew that. And with Chevledayoff’s record of building a team through the waiver wire, I wasn’t sure he did either.
The Jets Draft
#13 Josh Morrissey, D – Pronman: “Morrissey is a dynamic offensive defenseman with a ton of plus skills."
#43 Nic Petan, C – creative, pure skill skater with the power of puck possession
#59 Eric Comrie, G – undersized but highly rated goalie with plus agility
#84: James (Jimmy) Lodge, C – Skilled forward, made a massive jump in production this year, considered to have high up-side
#91: J.C. Lipon, RW – Overager who grew three inches in the last 2 years, physical pest with goal scoring ability
#104: Andrew Copp, C – Natural athlete – a highschool quaterback as well. Skilled centre with limited resume due to broken collarbone. Overager who moved up depth chart in his Freshman year at Michigan, finished on 1st line with 19 points in last 21 games.
#114 Jan Kostalek, D – Pre-season preliminary rankings had Kostalek going in the last first round. He was a stud in the Czech Republic, but struggled to translate his offence in his draft year – his first in the CHL. Still, a good open ice hitter with plus skating and the possibility of an offensive upside as well.
#127 Tucker Poolman, D – A big, strong defenceman with raw offensive upside. The Omaha-World Herald wrote, "a reliable, steady player who also brings a solid offensive game. With his size and strength, expect Poolman to play in all situations."
#190 Brenden Kitchon, D – Kitchon was previously drafted in the 5th round by the Islanders in 2011 as an overager, but opted to re-enter the draft instead of sign a contract. He led the Spokane Chiefs in points this year, as well as the WHL in scoring by a defenceman with 85 points in 71 games. Hockey Futures: "With areas of his game that still need refinement, Kichton’s offensive instincts and willingness to challenge defenders are plusses and are inherent in all puck-moving defensemen."
#194 Marcus Karlstrom, D – Dominated the under-18 Elit league in Sweden, with 32 points in 22 games (second best Points/game among dmen) and was suffled up as high as the J20 SuperElit this year.
The first thing we note is that the draft was a skill draft. After a decade plus of fishing in the secondary development leagues, looking for stars among scrubs, and showing a strong preference for ‘fox hole’ types (as Comeau himself put it) over skill players, this draft represents a dramatic turn toward valuing scoring. It seems – at least for one year – Comeau finally stopped trying to outsmart the rest of the scouting community. For a guy who once took a player out of Junior B in the first round, I feel like he’s come a long way. Maybe he’s been working on his self worth. You don’t need to prove yourself to no one, Marcel.
This collection of players has very few surprises, save for the fact that many of them were ranked much higher in the draft throughout the year. Third round pick Jan Kostalek out of the QJMHL was thought to be a late first round pick when he came over from the Czech Republic to start the year. Second round pick Nic Petan was rated as a first rounder by pundits in the hours leading up to the draft. Brenden Kitchon has a strange tale of being drafted as an overager and still choosing to re-enter the draft after his final WHL season. He’s a skilled defenceman and gets better every year by point total.
We can’t have total knowledge of these players, but we can look for positive signs. In the case of the Jets draft this year, every player has positive arrows, positive signs of future development. The development camp is our first chance to see these players in action, to see them show off their skill.
While you’re at the rink this week, remember that this is a special draft class for the Jets. Ten players, all skill picks for a team in desperate need of players to control the puck and put it in the net. It could be a watershed draft for this franchise.