Jets Offseason Part One: The Draft

This is a two-part series that will deal with the offseason changes and their implications on the Winnipeg Jets for next season and beyond. Part one deals with the draft.

The draft class of 2015 was considered by many experts to be one of the deepest in many years. With the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel leading the way, this year’s draftees could very well change the face of the NHL for years to come.

The Jets were fortunate to have two first round picks in this year’s draft. One was their own and the other was acquired in the blockbuster trade that sent Evander Kane to the Buffalo Sabres. (That pick was originally held by the St. Louis Blues.) There was talk that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was willing to package those two picks in order to move up in the draft. However, no deal materialized and Chevy stood pat.

The Jets were fortunate that Kyle Connor slipped to the 17th pick when the Jets selected him. A speedy winger who played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, Connor was rated in the top 15 in most mock drafts. The native of Shelby Township, Michigan is highly skilled who possesses intelligence and flair in the offensive zone. Last season, Connor recorded 74 points, (32G, 42A) in 53 games. Connor will be continuing his development at the University of Michigan this fall. (Yes, that is Jacob Trouba’s alma mater.)

Admittedly, I’m not as sold on Jack Roslovic as my colleague Garret Hohl. I think he would have been available in the second round. Yet, the Jets are hoping that the best is yet to come from Roslovic. He did have a solid season with the USA U18 team of the USHL, registering 67 points (21G, 46A) in 57 games. Roslovic will attend the University of Miami-Ohio this fall.

Still, this is a questionable pick. The Jets were in need of some depth on defence as the organization is lacking in stud blueliners. D-men such as Noah Juulsen, Jacob Larsson, Jeremy Roy and Oliver Kylington on the board, it may have been more prudent for the Jets to address a need than gamble on a late bloomer. There is no denying that Roslovic is talented. But I do think a defenceman at this point of the draft would have been ideal. Let’s hope Roslovic proves me wrong.

Second round pick Jansen Harkins surprisingly fell into the Jets hands. The 47th pick in the draft was projected to go in the first round by some but was still around for the Jets to take. The North Vancouver, B.C native had an excellent season with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, tallying 79 points (20G, 59A) in 70 games with the Cougars. 

A two-way centre who is an adept playmaker, Harkins will probably morph into a checking specialist in the NHL with some offensive skill. He’ll need to finish out his junior eligibility before he’s NHL ready. Harkins is a possibility to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Championships at Christmas time.

The rest of the picks are still years away from NHL duty but at least one of Erik Foley, Michael Spacek, Mason Appleton, Sami Niku or Matteo Gennaro will have to have their development accelerated if they want to reach the NHL. It is difficult to judge these players now so one must wait a few years before a verdict is reached.