I personally am not a big fan of grading a draft in any sport – especially within the 24 hours of said draft – so if you’re looking for grades, I’m sorry but I can’t do that. (I will however have some links below to other people’s grades with some comments of my own, so you grade junkies can get your fix.)
But what I do feel I specialize in is finding animated GIFs that perfectly explain how one should feel in a given moment, so let us look over what just happened in Dallas the last 48 hours or so with the 2018 NHL Draft and not “grade” it, but give it an appropriate GIF to sum everything up.
No trade into the first round, in fact no trade at all
Let’s start here before we get into the picks because I feel like a lot of Jets fans expected the “Summer of Chevy” to kick off with a huge bang at this weekend’s draft when in reality we should have all curbed our enthusiasm.
(I know the gif above isn’t from that show.. I’ll get to Larry in a moment)
It was a slow weekend overall for the NHL with just two major trades involving players. The rumored big deals for Montreal’s third overall pick and Edmonton’s tenth overall pick never happened.
The Jets could have maybe used a boost up from their 60th pick, but were they not willing to part with a player like a Marko Dano or Nic Petan for a pick? Do they really believe keeping Tyler Myers and trying him out on the left side of defense is a better option than just trading for an actual left handed defenseman? The Jets still have to make some moves to make room for all the pending RFA raises they have to hand out, don’t they?
We all thought we’d start seeing the wheels of Chevy’s off-season plan start going into motion in Dallas, but instead… Nothing. Not that it was a critical error on his part that he didn’t make moves – he still has a big week or two coming up with the opening of free agency – but it sure felt like this should have been the start.
Jets select David Gustafsson with 60th pick
Why don’t I like to grade draft picks, especially shortly after the picks have been made? David Gustafsson is a perfect example of why.
No one truly knows what to make of this kid. CanucksArmy had him as the number 27 in their prospect draft rankings (hey, the Jets got a steal!), Bobby Mac had him at 64 (hey, the Jets did ok!), HockeyProspect.com had him at 106 (hey, the Jets reached like hell!) so if you’re a fan of taking a solid prospect who projects as a strong defensive forward that could fill out a bottom six role in about three to four seasons time, you should give this pick a B+. If you’re looking for more offensive upside to a player in the late second round, then it’s maybe worth a C at best.
There is something to be said for drafting a kid who is already playing against full grown men and succeeding as Gustafsson had done this past season in the Swedish Hockey League. He’s going to spend two more years over there before moving on to North America which isn’t a bad way to develop at all.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) June 23, 2018
Jets select Nathan Smith with 91st pick
The Jets aren’t afraid to wade into the over-agers pool, but this pick left a few people scratching their head. The Florida kid missed qualifying for last year’s draft by about a month and this past season had his first – and only – season with Cedar Rapids of the USHL where he did alright for himself despite the massive jump in quality of opposition. He’s now going to join Minnesota State University (Mankato) – the same school that fellow Jets prospect C.J. Suess was recently part of.
Was Smith at 91 a bit high? Probably. It might have been worth it to the Jets to trade the 91st pick overall and go down into the fourth round where they could have still picked Smith and maybe received an extra pick in the fifth or sixth round. I do wonder if it was a deal they tried to make as they used up almost their entire time allotted to them in making the third round pick before making it…
#NHLJets took a moment to make it, but they ended up taking center Nathan Smith with the 91st overall pick.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) June 23, 2018
I really don’t feel this is a pick to get too upset over. We all knew – or at least should have known – the Jets had six picks going into the draft and all six picks were going to be “projects” that were at the very least three seasons away from having any kind of impact with the Jets. Nathan Smith certainly qualifies in that group.
Jets pick a pair of LH defensemen
“You all wanted left handed defensemen, here’s a left handed defenseman! One isn’t enough? Fine, we’ll take another!”
The Jets looked to the OHL for some defensive help and helped balance out their defensive prospect pool. Declan Chisholm projects more as a defensive styled defenseman while Giovanni Vallati showed some offensive potential as a member of the Kitchener Rangers – and notably a teammate of Logan Stanley.
They appear to be the same type of player with the same size and build. They have multiple years of junior eligibility left so expect both of them to have bigger roles with their OHL clubs this coming season.
And then the other guys…
The Athletic’s Murat Ates went all Nostradamus on us with thinking the Jets would pick up a goalie at some point…
I fully expect this to be Jets relevant by the end of the weekend. https://t.co/K2HDc3U6zZ
— Murat (@WPGMurat) June 20, 2018
The Jets goaltending depth isn’t as deep as some would assume it is. Yes Hellebuyck is number one, but Steve Mason is a very short term fix and will likely be done at the end of next season if not traded before that. Michael Hutchinson could and likely will move on as a UFA this summer. Eric Comrie, Mikhail Berdin and Jamie Phillips represent the “depth” that the jets will have through the AHL and ECHL ranks this coming season – Comrie and Phillips with Manitoba while Berdin will get a chance to strut his stuff with Jacksonville.
So the Jets with that in mind and add to the fact that there is an expansion draft for a Seattle franchise on the horizon, added one more goalie to the list.
As for Austin Wong, Devils blog “All About The Jersey” had a fantastic write up on him and if you want to read a bunch on a seventh round pick, that’s where you need to go. Having spoken to a few Okatoks Oiler fans after the pick was made, they were big fans of the kid and think his ‘sleeper’ status is well warranted.
This wasn’t a great draft weekend for the Jets by any stretch. Grades (I told you I’d share them with you)from sites like CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and The Athletic all had the Jets at around the “C” grade which could easily turn out to be a fair assessment in a few seasons given how “safe” most of these picks felt and given the status the Jets already have right now as one of the best young teams in hockey.
2018’s draft was about helping replenish the shelves after the Jets saw a handful of players graduate up levels this season and expect more for next season.
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