The Winnipeg Jets this coming weekend will enter their eighth draft since their flight north from Atlanta. The club has just come off their most successful NHL season ever, a season that was built largely on the concept of “draft and develop” which has had it’s critics over the years but has turned out to be very fruitful and one where you can see positive results from pretty much every draft the Jets have had.
This week leading up to the draft, we’ll look back at the first seven drafts the Jets have taken part in and look back at the hits (quite a few), the misses (every team has ’em) and the fates-yet-to-be-determined.
2011 is where it all began for the Winnipeg Jets just a short trip down south in Minnesota and featured a surprise pick right out of the gate and the actual reveal of the team name all at the same time.
1st round pick – 7th overall: Mark Scheifele (C)
The name announced was hardly a surprise, but the pick made right after it was a certain shock as experts thought Scheifele would be at best a mid-teens pick, but Kevin Cheveldayoff thought highly enough of Scheif to “reach” and it didn’t take long for social media to question it.
Some criticism of WPG's Scheifele pick yesterday is that they could have traded down the draft board to pick him up. #winnipegjets
— Luke Miguez (@LukeMiguez) June 25, 2011
— Mike (@Mike_Habs) June 25, 2011
I'm liking everything I'm seeing on Mark Scheifele. He'll be a great player. But I'm still feeling a little iffy about passing on Couturier
— Winnipeg Hockey Fan (@wpgjetshockey) June 25, 2011
No kidding! Was scheifele so much better? RT @EricEngels Sickened by Couturier going to Flyers. Can't believe Winnipeg didn't select him
— Matt Hendricks Burner Acct (@Teddier) June 25, 2011
Turns out Scheifele proved to be a pretty nice player for the Jets and it can be argued he’s in the discussion for top five centers in the league right now.
Winnipeg did not rush him right into the league much like other teams did like the Oilers with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Philadelphia with Sean Couturier, in fact Scheifele wasn’t inserted into the Jets regular lineup until the 2013-14 campaign and after a couple of tough seasons that only added to the doubts that the Jets over-reached with their first ever pick, a 29 goal 2015-16 season helped ease some of those fears and the next two seasons saw Scheifele’s emergence as the Jets number one center and a key player for the club almost to the point where Jets fans went into full panic mode when he went down with injury late December 2016.
3rd round pick – 67th overall: Adam Lowry (C)
60 picks later the Jets second pick of the draft also turned out to be a great pick for a depth center.
Like Scheifle, Lowry’s journey as a full fledged member of the Winnipeg Jets wasn’t without plenty of doubt. His strong rookie campaign of 2014-15 where he scored 11 goals, 23 points and garnered Calder trophy consideration may have perhaps misled Jets fans and media into thinking that he was destined for a productive career as a potential middle six forward that could get 15 to 20 goals a season. He struggled in his second year in both ends of the ice as his offensive numbers dipped and his defensive metrics took a nose dive. A good third year where he posted 15 goals – 10 of which scored on the power play – and improved his defensive play helped alleviate some fears about him and this past season he was putting up numbers that some felt could have been Selke Trophy worthy as one of the league’s top defensive forwards before injuries in the second half of the season limited his games played.
3rd round pick – 78th overall: Brennan Serville (D)
Unfortunately the rest of the Jets draft gets very thin as shades of Atlanta’s drafting issues still lingered into the first Jets draft. If Scheifele was a ‘reach’ of a pick in the first round, Serville was an even bigger gamble as the two way 6’3″ defenseman looked like he could have had all kinds of potential, but injuries limited his development. Serville’s last season of pro hockey was in 2015-16 with the Tulsa Oilers after he failed to catch on with the Manitoba Moose.
4th round pick – 119th overall: Zachary Yuen (D)
Zachary was the first player of Chinese descent to be drafted to the NHL, but the defenseman was never in fact signed a contract with the Jets and two years after he was drafted was allowed to walk away much to the lament of a few Jets fans who thought the Jets were missing out on some highly thought of potential – one even comically calling it “a disaster”.
I was waiting on this one to be sure. Winnipeg did not sign 2011 4th round pick D Zach Yuen. Think he will certainly be picked as a re draft
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 1, 2013
*Ron Howard voice* He was not picked as a re-draft.
Yuen did try to latch on in the Toronto organization but was let go after three games in the AHL and spent the next few seasons in the ECHL before going to Kunlun Red Star of the KHL.
5th round pick – 149th overall: Austen Brassard (RW)
6th round pick – 157th overall: Jason Kasdorf (G)
7th round pick – 187th overall: Aaron Harstad (D)
Not a whole lot of anything here for the Jets with their last three picks of the draft. If Jason Kasdorf sounds familiar, you probably will remember him as part of the Evander Kane trade to Buffalo that helped the Jets pick up Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and the first round pick that ended up being Jack Roslovic.
Brassard played three seasons in the Jets farm system and in the last two years has bounced around between the AHL and ECHL. Ditto that for Aaron Harstad who has been mostly an ECHL mainstay for the last four seasons.
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