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.
The 2013 draft featured the highest amount of picks made by the Jets in one year with a total of ten. It was a draft that saw the Jets really fill the prospect cupboards as eight players still remain part of the organization in some shape or form ranging from potential top line pairing next season to mainstay on the AHL club and everything in between. Interestingly enough most of them are also RFAs as well so their status with the Jets could change dramatically in the next few weeks.
1st round pick – 13th overall: Josh Morrissey (D)
“The Jets surprise ‘experts’ by picking a player many would consider “off the board” or at the very least going much higher than most expected.” – It continued to be a theme for Jets GM Kevein Cheveldayoff as his third draft got underway. Josh Morrissey going into the 2012-13 season wasn’t even considered a possible first round pick but had worked his way into consideration as a pick in the mid to low 20’s. Cheveldayoff had other ideas…
(Ya know we give Pierre McGuire a ton of grief as he rightfully deserves, but give him credit for right away figuring out that Trouba and Morrissey would make a fine defensive pairing)
When you look at all the picks that followed the Jets for the next two rounds, it’s hard to argue that Chevy made a super shrewd pick.
“He’s gonna need some time”
All he needed was to finish his junior eligibility – which ended with a WHL championship in 2015 with the Kelowna Rockets – and a little over a season of AHL playing time before he impressed the heck out of everyone during the Jets 2016 training camp and earned a spot on the team and has played every game for them since save for one late this past season when he was given the night off to rest for a playoff run and then one more game in the NHL playoffs when he was suspended for a cross check.
The Jets at the time had a big need for left handed defensemen (some things never change really) and this was a case where the Jets filled a need and with hindsight got maybe the best player available that was to be selected around that time.
2nd round pick – 43rd overall: Nicolas Petan (LW)
Nic Petan’s time with the Jets has been very frustrating as we’ve already well documented…
Maybe it’s worth nothing that at this point, Paul Maurice wasn’t in the picture for the Jets, Claude Noel was, so maybe Petan’s smaller stature at 5’9″ didn’t throw the Jets off like it seems to have had with Maurice who doesn’t seem comfortable putting Petan in the regular lineup. Perhaps because of his size, perhaps because Petan does need work on his defensive game. We don’t really know the full story.
As we noted a short while ago, he’s now an RFA and while it’s likely the Jets will hang on to him it could be just as a bargaining chip for a potential trade as his future as a Jet is all kinds of murky.
2nd round pick – 59th overall: Eric Comrie (G)
When Connor Hellebuyck – who was picked in the draft the previous year – faltered in the 2016-17 season with the Jets, there was a thought by some people that it may have been for the best anyway as Comrie may have been the true heir apparent to take control of the starters spot in Winnipeg. That likely won’t happen now with Hellebuyck’s recent Vezina worthy season, but Comrie had a fine season with the Moose in 2017-18 posting an 18-13-3 record with a .916 save percentage.
Like Petan, it’s likely Comrie may be used as trade bait as the Jets also have prospect Mikhail Berdin freshly signed to a three year ELC, but wherever he ends up, Comrie still has plenty of potential to be an NHL starter.
3rd round pick – 84th overall: Jimmy Lodge (C)
After his first pro season in 2015-16 was split between the ECHL and AHL, Lodge probably figured that his 2016-17 season that was spent completely in the AHL with the Moose where he played 63 games in a bottom six forward role was a step in the right direction.
This past season though he only lasted a couple of games with the Moose before being demoted again back to the ECHL and the Jets affiliate in Jaxsonville. Lodge responded with some renewed drive and found a bit of a scoring touch with 17 goals and 49 points in 57 games played with the IceMen.
3rd round pick – 91st overall: JC Lipon (RW)
Lipon was quite good this season with the Manitoba Moose, finishing eighth in team scoring with 17 goals and 38 points in 68 games played. He also had a Bobblehead day this past season.
Lipon has spend the last couple of summers being given one year contracts and that could happen again this summer, but at the age of 24 it’s becoming kind of clear he doesn’t have much of a future with the Jets NHL roster.
4th round pick – 104th overall: Andrew Copp (C)
Copp seemingly has a future with the Jets as a bottom six forward and has already been in 224 games with the Jets, picking up 25 goals and 59 points in that time. Copp is a consistent performer on the ice although he doesn’t really excel in any one area. He’s ok offensively but not going to put up big numbers, he’s dependable on the defensive side of the ice but not a shutdown forward by any stretch – although he did improve in that area this season partly thanks to playing alongside Adam Lowry, Joel Armia and at times Brandon Tanev.
4th round pick – 114th overall: Jan Kostalek (D)
Yet another RFA in the Jets system, but it’s hard to tell what his future may hold this summer. Kostalek had been a member of the Manitoba Moose since the 2015-16 season and was a steady, developing presence for the team in 112 games played over those two seasons. He suffered an injury in training camp this past season and didn’t get to appear in any Jets pre-season games. He also missed a handful of Moose games at the start of their season and began his 2017-18 campaign in the ECHL as he worked to get back to full health. The time in Jacksonville didn’t last long as he was called back up to the Moose later that month and played in 37 regular season games and nine playoff games where he had a pretty good showing with a pair of goals scored.
5th round pick – 127th overall: Tucker Poolman (D)
For a while, there was some real concern that the Jets weren’t even going to be able to sign Poolman to an entry level deal and were going to lose him for nothing. There was the extra year he stayed with the University of North Dakota even though there didn’t seem to be any real reason for him to do so other than to play on the same team as his brother. There was also concern about his health as he had surgery on both of his shoulders after that 2016-17 season. Poolman’s journey to the NHL has been anything but conventional and even after bouncing between the Moose and Jets this season as the NHL club dealt with multiple injuries, the uncertainty didn’t seem to phase Poolman and now it would seem he could be a key depth defenseman for the Jets for the next few years.
7th round pick – 190th overall: Brenden Kichton (D)
7th round pick – 194th overall: Marcus Karlstrom (D)
Neither Kitchton or Karlstrom are part of the Jets organization now.
Kitchton was originally an Islanders fifth round pick in 2011 but didn’t sign with the club thus re-entering the draft and falling to the Jets in the seventh round. He did spend four seasons in the Jets AHL system – two seasons with the IceCaps and two with the Moose – with some ok results as a middle to bottom six forward but it became clear he wasn’t part of the Jets future plans. Kitchton then signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this past summer where he played pretty much the same role with their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
Karlsrom never set foot in North America and was quietly left unsigned in 2017.
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