As we near June 24th, we at Jets Nation will preview the NHL Entry Draft with a look at the Winnipeg Jets’ picks, the team’s history, some fun potential scenarios, as well as some other related topics.
We open our series looking at the players selected at the same spot as the Winnipeg Jets’ current draft picks and discuss what these can mean for the team.
The Winnipeg Jets have the opportunity to draft from the earliest position in franchise history since the move to Canada. This opportunity is quite extraordinaire and means the Jets have their best opportunity to garner a team-defining player.
Historically there has been some legitimate franchise centre pieces drafted at second overall. Jack Eichel, Alex Barkov, Tyler Seguin, Victor Hedman, and Drew Doughty are all players that have or will carry their teams.
There are no guarantees though. In hindsight we can see some of these players not performing quite to what one would hope of a second overall pick. However, even those players have still been productive and legitimate top-of-the roster members.
This is what makes picking at the top so special: you have the best chance at elite talent, and if you miss you will still have a pretty good piece for your team.
As we move later into the draft, the average level of talent falls, but there are still some interesting players available.
Max Pacioretty and Claude Giroux show that top talent is still possible if a team is wise in going for players undervalued. Pacioretty was a strong scorer in the fairly under scouted USHL. At 5’11, Giroux was dismissed despite dominating the QMJHL for 112 points in 63 games. Giroux has grown into one of the most exceptional power play producers in the NHL.
Of course the rest of the crowd varies quite a bit. Jordan Eberle has been a legitimate NHL top-six player, while Tyler Biggs probably should have been left to a later round but teams overvalued his size and defensive game. Then you have players in the middle like the now Stanley Cup Champion Olli Maatta or Ilya Samsonov, an intriguing goaltender with a >920 save percentage in the KHL.
At thirty-sixth overall, teams are still getting a pretty decent number of NHL players although the skill level is falling with skaters like Jamie McGinn, Adam Clendening, Alex Petrovic.
We also start to see goaltenders being drafted more often, although the difference of Thatcher Demko, Zacharay Fucale, and Joel Gistedt show the crap shoot that drafting goaltenders has been by NHL scouting parties.
Each one of the first five years have garnered their team’s some NHL games, although no real regulars yet. There is some evidence, however, that Linus Omark was an undervalued player during his time in the NHL.
The newer prospects still have a lot to prove.
As we move later and later, the lists get a lot less impressive.
One Twenty-Seventh Overall
Matt Calvert, a regular 20-to-25 point bottom-six player born in Manitoba, represents the best player taken in this area. Every other player has struggled to get a taste, let alone be a regular in the NHL.
There are both some interesting pieces as well as some recognizable faces. Brenden Kicthon was not signed by the New York Islanders and was drafted later by the Jets as a re-entry player. Tucker Poolman was an over age player selected by the Jets and has shown some promise playing well in the NCAA. Gustav Forsling has been one of the more dominant young-defenders in the Swedish Hockey League.
One Fifty-Seventh Overall
Columbus Blue Jackets once again got the best of the bunch with going for an undersized scorer in Cam Atkinson, who was dominating the USHS.
The Winnipeg Jets drafted a hometown netminder Jason Kasorf in 2011, who was a piece in the blockbuster trade that included Evander Kane and Tyler Myers.
One Eighty-Seventh Overall
As we come to our final round, the pickings become quite slim. Most of these players haven’t seen the NHL, or even recieved an Entry Level Contract.
There is one very interesting name in the bunch: Frederik Andersen. He’s been a pretty decent netminder in the NHL.
Drafting second overall is a pretty big deal. The team has a chance in adding an elite piece to an organization with an already fairly strong prospect cupboard and a promising young NHL core. That said, there are still some depth that can be acquired throughout the draft and hopefully the Jets can add a NHL piece or two with their remaining selections.