The Winnipeg Jets announced today the roster for the 2016 Young Stars Classic. The tournament takes place September 16 to 19 in Penticton, BC. The Jets have been used as the rookie camp since the inaugural 2011-12 season.
The roster does not come with many surprises, although there are a few.
Forwards: Kyle Connor, Jimmy Lodge, Brendan Lemieux, Jack Roslovic, Axel Blomqvist, Jordy Stallard, Brendon Denham, Michael Spacek, Jiri Fronk, Antoine Waked, Matteo Gennaro
Defense: Luke Green, Jan Kostalek, Nelson Nogier, Logan Stanley, Tyson Wilson, Kristians Rubins, Matt Murphy
Goaltending: Jamie Phillips, Mikhail Berdin
The tournament typically allows teams to send prospects playing in non-professional level hockey, with the exception of those that had their AHL rookie season last year. The Jets seem to not have made exceptions for Josh Morrissey and Eric Comrie, who are eligible to come but not on the list.
Those playing in Europe do not go to the tournament, as their leagues have already started, and school has started for those in the NCAA (and a pro-tryout makes a player no longer NCAA eligible as well).
Patrik Laine will not be coming, due to playing in the World Cup of Hockey. The 2016 NHL Entry Draft year will be well represented, with Logan Stanley, Luke Green, Jordan Stallard, and Mikhail Berdin. Berdin is a bit of a surprise as he was expected to play in Russia this year but made a last minute change, voiding his KHL contract and signing up to play in the USHL. All four are extreme long shots for the Jets this season, but will be trying to make an impression and then further develop their game in junior this year.
The tournament will see both of the Jets first round selections from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, with both Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic making appearances. Jansen Harkins, Michael Spacek, and Matteo Gennaro will also be playing as well. Connor and Roslovic will both be trying to make cases for the NHL squad this year, while the other three will be trying to impress for an ELC for next year.
Chase De Leo and Nelson Nogier are the only Jet selections from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, although Brendan Lemieux was drafted that year by the Buffalo Sabres. Chase De Leo looks to build on an impressive AHL rookie season, while Nogier and Lemieux will be starting their own pro-level rookie seasons.
Jimmy Lodge and Jan Kostalek will be the only ones from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Lodge and Kostalek both had rough rookie seasons for the Manitoba Moose last year and will be hoping to bounce back. The same could be said of Axel Blomqvist, who was signed to an ELC after an impressive Young Stars appearance in the summer of 2013.
The oldest Jet draft pick at the tournament will be Jamie Phillips, a seventh round pick from 2012. Phillips almost was not signed after leaving the NCAA this summer, but was given an ELC last minute and joined the Jets at their summer development camp.
Brendon Denham is a big winger at 6’4. The 24-year-old made his case by putting up over a point per game pace for Robert Morris University last season, with 42 points in 39 games. While 24 is pretty old and diminishes the slightly impressiveness of that production, being 32nd overall in point per game pace still shows that Denham could make an impact in the AHL. He played a few games for the Moose after his NCAA season was over, and obviously impressed the organization enough to continue with the team.
Jiri Fronk makes his return from being an invite from the 2015 Young Stars Tournament. Fronk spent most of his time last year playing for the Manitoba Moose. The 6’2 winger from the Czech Republic only put up 8 points in 33 games under minimal ice time, but has the skill to be a player in the American Hockey League.
Antoine Waked is looking to earn a pro-contract from the Moose. The 6’0 winger may not have a big frame, but he knows how to use what he has. Waked will make some noise at the tournament, as the 20-year-old likes to play physical and keep the opposition on their toes.
At 25, Tyson Wilson is the oldest at the tournament that will be wearing a Jets’ jersey. The 6’1, left-shot defender put up big numbers in his senior NCAA season, scoring 27 points in 38 games. Wilson earned himself a three-game showing last season for the Moose and obviously did well enough for the Jets to remain interested.
Kristians Rubins was passed over the draft last year and is hoping to impress NHL scouts for next year as a re-entry player. Rubbins put up 11 points in 21 games in the Swedish Junior leagues, nearly twice the production of Jets’ 2016 draft pick Jacob Cederholm, but the 6’4 skater is known more for his defensive game than point production. To further raise his profile, Rubins is also making the transfer to North America, and will be playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL.
Matt Murphy is no longer eligible for the CHL after playing his overage season last year in the QMJHL. The offensive defender put up 22 points in 32 games as the captain of the Quebec Remparts, until he was traded to Luke Green’s Saint John Se Dogs, where he put up 29 points in 37 games. Murphy is an older player hoping to get a pro-contract this year, if he fails he will likely play in the CIS for the University of New Brunswick.
The Nation Network will be sending a few representatives to the tournament, including myself. If you are there, feel free to say hi.