Excusez-moi pour le retard. Even while I’m in Paris (France, not Texas), I can’t help but be excited for the Jets draft. Round 4 continued a name-brand draft of skaters who had fallen more than they should have as the Jets shook off years of trying to outsmart the scouting community at large, and fishing at lesser known fishing holes (that netted them one of the worst drafting records of the past decade). First, at 104, the Jets took Andrew Copp – an over-age centre at the University of Michigan and a natural athlete with a limited scouting report prior to this year. Ten picks later, the Jets took Rimouski defenceman Jan Kostalek who was ranked in preliminary rankings as highly as 25 (The Scouting Report) but fell rapidly due to scoring concerns in his first North American season. Both players represent incredible value for a 4th round selection, and below we will talk about why.
Andrew Copp, C, University of Michigan (#104 Overall)
- 6′, 188lbs
- July 1994 birthday
- Twitter: @Copp94
Andrew Copp is a player with a very limited resume. Most of the information I found, I found here. A star quarterback at Skyline highschool and a member of the highly regarded US National Team Development Program located in Copp’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Copp should have been well scouted in his first draft eligible year. However, a broken collarbone kept him off the ice, and an unusual role as an extra forward for the small US NTDP team offered him a limited role. He played only 18 games his draft year (going 3-7-10) and played as the 14th forward on the U18’s team. His 22 games on the U17s team was even less productive (1-4-5), so we can expect that he also played a limited role there.
Upon going to Michigan, however, Copp forced himself up the roster. Starting the season on the 4th line as a Freshman without much pedigree, Copp nevertheless found himself on the 1st line to end the year, and scored 19 points in his final 21 games for a season total of 38GP 11-10-21. The fear, of course, is that it was a hot streak. Still, in the draft world, we can say his arrows are pointed in the right direction for now. He’ll have a few years at Michigan to grow his hockey specific skills, but his natural athleticism and progress this season have to be considered positive signs.
Jan Kostalek, D, Rimouski Oceanic (#114 Overall)
- 6′, 180lbs
- 48 GP 5-13-18
- NHL Style comparables: Niklas Kronwall
It’s outrageous to me that Kostalek was available this late. Originally thought to be on the bubble of the 1st round by some, his lack of offence this season in the QMJHL caused obvious concern. Nevertheless, Corey Pronman still ranked him at 59 in his final Rankings. His offensive game appears to be present, with scouts saying that he makes smart offensive plays. Pehaps a combination of poor luck, lack of PP time, and adjusting to the North American game and lifestyle held his numbers down slightly. Certainly, it’s something to watch in years to come.
Hockey Futures gave the most succinct and exciting evaluation:
An extremely polished two-way defenseman, Kostalek plays a mature game and adapted well to being counted on to play plenty of minutes in all situations. Perhaps his best skill is his intelligence and hockey sense on the ice. Quite simply, he rarely makes a mistake. Only average sized, he skates well and plays with a bit of an edge. Offensively, there is still room to grow, but he makes smart decisions and moves the puck well. He’ll continue to improve as he gets stronger.
Here’s what Pronman had to say for good measure:
Kostalek is one of the better Czech prospects in recent years. He played in the Czech men’s league for ten games at age 16, and played at the U-18 and U-19 levels that same season before coming to the QMJHL for his draft year. Kostalek is a heady defenseman, and while he may not possess the most offensive upside, he projects as a tough-minutes defender with some puck moving ability. He makes a lot of stops with a good stick, impressive defensive positioning, and solid physicality. When Kostalek has the puck, he has a good panic threshold, and enough offensive instincts to make a good outlet. He has second power play unit potential. He will not rush through the neutral zone, or dangle through opponents, but he can be a good secondary carrying option. He skates at a solid level with good mobility and agility. He has the speed to join the rush or pinch, which he does selectively.
As with all drafts and all prospects, it will be years before we know if Copp or Kostalek will be NHL calibre players. Copp is a long shot, but adds organizational depth at a shallow position. Kostalek is a tremendous prospect to be taken at 114th overall (that’s a relative measure, of course). Both have positive verbal around them, and the questions in their game (offence, mostly) are genuinely unknown. Their arrows are pointing up, and we can cheer Cheveldayoff, Comeau, and the Jets for excellent value in the 4th round, and for not wandering on the mission of acquiring real hockey players with skill.