We discussed earlier how ESPN’s prospect guru Corey Pronman likes the Jets prospect cupboard. Pronman had ranked the Jets sixth best prospect depth overall (warning: paywall).
Five Jets made the top 100 prospects, while one made the top 10 goalies, showing in part why Pronman likes the Jets so much.
We will discuss some of the list, but not give out specific details as we believe that Pronman’s information is worth an ESPN subscription alone (plus copyrights and all).
The highest ranked Jet is unsurprisingly Nikolaj Ehlers.
Pronman notes there is a high-end tier of nine players existing between the elites (Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel) and then the rest of the prospects. Pronman places Ehlers in this tier, along with draft classmates William Nylander, Dylan Larkin, and Kevin Fiala and some top-end prospects from the most recent draft.
Ehlers is the crowning jewel of the deep Jets draft group. He has deadly combination of speed, puck skills, and shot that will make him a dangerous scorer for years to come.
Pronman notes that Ehlers will be pushing for a roster spot this year with the Jets and may make it on talent alone. With the Jets lacking in NHL one-way contracts for wingers, they have definitely given Ehlers the chance to battle Joel Armia, Nic Petan, and others for a spot.
Nic Petan, Kyle Connor, and Joshua Morrissey are all closely ranked together in the top 35.
Pronman praises Petan for his elite playmaking abilities and vision, while saying he could see Petan as an effective scorer in the NHL despite being smaller in stature.
Petan will be graduating to pro-level hockey this year and will be opening eyes in Winnipeg, whether that is for the Moose or the Jets. Petan has some decent speed although he is at his best when he slows down the game with the puck on his stick, while out smarting the defending players.
Jets new addition Kyle Connor ranks highly with Pronman as well. Pronman projects Connor as a top-six winger who can both score and play the penalty kill.
With a possible future of both Connor and Ehlers on the wing, the Jets look to eventually become one of the fastest teams in the NHL. Not only do both players have top gears, but they are also extremely quick in getting to their top speeds and like to play at that top gear as much as possible.
The only slight to Connor is his strength, but he will have plenty of time to fix that with up to four years of available development at the University of Michigan before the Jets need to sign Connor to an entry level contract.
The Jets also carry a defender in the top 35, with Joshua Morrissey. Pronman’s ranking for Morrissey dropped from the previous year, which likely relates to Morrissey’s struggle in creating offense at the same level as he did prior.
There were concerns that Morrissey put on too much weight too quickly in order to prepare for the Jets training camp last fall. His two largest advantages have always been his skating and his ability to think the game. However, Morrissey’s speed had obviously dropped at training camp relative to what he displayed in the WHL and the AHL the year prior.
At the summer development camp Morrissey admitted to this error and looked to be back in top shape. Like Petan, Morrissey will be graduating to the pro-level to play in Winnipeg, although may be stuck on the Moose for a while with the Jets carrying six left-shot defensemen who played in the NHL last year (five if Grant Clitsome is placed on LTIR).
Newly drafted Jack Roslovic just squeaks in the top 100 as well. Roslovic has been a riser and Pronman notes as much. He praises Roslovic for his high-end skill and size, but notes that Roslovic needs to work on how he thinks the game.
There were a lot of concerns going into the draft that Roslovic was more a benefactor to 2016 potential 1st overall pick Auston Matthews than being a player able to drive offense. However, Roslovic has slowly been showing that he has talent of his own, especially with his international play where he has stood out.
Connor Hellebuyck makes Pronman’s top 10 list for goaltenders. While he doesn’t end up 1st overall like with InGoal Magazine, the scouting notes are still the same: big and boring, but it works exceptionally well.
The Jets will likely keep the status quo coming out of camp, which Paul Maurice has also alluded to already, with Hellebuyck starting in net for the Manitoba Moose. However, a repeat performance will likely push Hellebuyck into a potential NHL job for 2016-2017. It will be interesting to see who the Jets move out in that case, with Michael Hutchinson a restricted free agent and Ondrej Pavelec carrying one final year on his contract.
Interestingly, Eric Comrie does not make either Pronman’s top ten goaltenders, nor the honourable mentioned five. Comrie’s save percentage has slumped lately in the WHL, but the Tri-City Americans have been a team essentially carried by the young netminder.
The Jets may be lacking in the Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel elite department, but a glut of high-end talent looks to push their already young and strong core in the NHL to the next level.