The Winnipeg Jets have signed 2014 fourth-round pick Chase De Leo of the Portland Winterhawks to a three-year, entry-level contract, the club announced on Thursday.
De Leo, 19, is an undersized American-born pivot who managed 39 goals and 81 points in 72 games with the Winterhawks in his draft +1 season and represented the United States in the World Junior Championship tournament.
Like his teammate and fellow Jets prospect Nicolas Petan, not to mention Jets top prospect Nikolaj Ehlers, De Leo is another undersized forward with a high upside that the Jets have gambled on in recent drafts.
While De Leo remains an intriguing prospect, and is certainly worth one of the club’s 50 contract spots, his offensive production stagnated somewhat this season following an impressive first-time draft eligible campaign.
As a result of his relatively flat offensive production, De Leo’s Prospect Cohort Sucess rate plunged from nearly 13 percent following last season, to roughly six percent now. Still his production rate in his draft plus-one season were comparable with what NHL players like Tyler Ennis or fringe NHL players like Craig Cunningham and Zach Boychuk managed in the WHL at roughly the same age.
De Leo will turn 20 in late October, so he’s eligible to play in the American League next season. Perhaps he’ll join fellow his more highly regarded Winterhawks teammate Petan with the Manitoba Moose this fall.