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Where are they now? The 2015 Winnipeg Jets draftees

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Photo credit:© Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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It’s now just a little over 3 weeks until the 2024 NHL draft. If you’ve been following along with this “where are they now?” series, we’ve been looking back at the Winnipeg Jets draft classes from the past, and seeing how the draftees are doing today. A few days ago I covered the 2014 draftees, and today I’m moving right along with the 2015 draftees. This may be the last draft class I cover for now, as you might soon begin to enter the “too early to tell” territory with some of these Jets draft choices after 2015 (in some cases). Regardless, unlike an overall unsuccessful 2014 draft class (aside from Nikolaj Ehlers in round 1), the 2015 Jets draft class may be one of their best overall.
1st round, 17th overall: Kyle Connor
Starting off the 2015 Jets draftees is another successful 1st round pick: Kyle Connor. In 531 career games, Connor has 243 goals and 242 assists for 485 points. Not enough can be said about Connor’s contributions to the Jets since his 1st full pro season in 2017-18. Connor is known as THE goal scorer on the Jets, consistently hitting 30+ goals a season, and even reaching a career high of 47 goals in 2021-22. Connor signed a 7 year, 50 million dollar deal back in 2019, so he’ll be due for a contract extension after the 2025-26 season. Connor should be on the top forward line with linemate Mark Scheifele next season, and Connor has shown no signs of slowing down as an elite goal scorer.
1st round, 25th overall: Jack Roslovic
The Jets struck themselves another very solid NHLer with their second 1st round pick in 2015: Jack Roslovic. In 445 games, Roslovic has 80 goals and 141 assists for 221 points. Unfortunately for the Jets, Roslovic didn’t really hit his potential until after he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the trade where the Jets acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois. There’s varying opinions on this trade, but most people seem to agree that the trade that sent Dubois out of Winnipeg has been beneficial to the team. Roslovic played the 2023-24 season with the New York Rangers and is now an unrestricted free agent. The Rangers are a team with lots of depth, so Roslovic may look for a fresh start on the free agent market this summer.
2nd round, 47th overall: Jansen Harkins
Harkins is a pick that didn’t exactly live up to his 2nd round potential, but it also wasn’t a “waste” of a pick either. Harkins dealt with a few injuries during his 4 seasons with the Jets. Eventually, Harkins went down to the AHL, and after spending half of the 2022-23 season with the Manitoba Moose, he was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Penguins in October 2023. Perhaps not the best pick the Jets could’ve made in the 2nd round, but this wouldn’t be the end of 2015 Jets draft picks to play in the NHL.
3rd round, 78th overall: Erik Foley + 4th round, 108th overall: Michael Spacek
I’m combining the Jets 3rd and 4th round picks here as these selections didn’t work out at all for the Jets, for different reasons. Foley was a left winger coming out of the USHL with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. After playing 3 seasons with Providence College, Foley’s hockey career never took off due to various injuries including concussion symptoms. Foley was included in the trade that helped the Jets acquire Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues, but he wasn’t able to continue his hockey career going forward for much longer. Spacek on the other hand, was simply a prospect who never developed into anything in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose. After 4 pro seasons, Spacek took his hockey career overseas where he still plays today, playing in the SM-Liiga, the Czech league, the Swedish league and currently the Swiss-A league with Ambri-Piotta.
6th round, 168 overall: Mason Appleton
The last 2 picks may not have worked out for the Jets, but their 6th round pick in 2015 has been a great story for being a 6th round selection. Appleton has played in 329 NHL games, scoring 47 goals and adding 69 assists for 116 points. Appleton is coming off of a career year, scoring 14 goals and adding 22 assists for 36 points in a full 82 game season. In my Jets Nation “year in review” series, I mentioned that Appleton is one of the Jets players who is versatile and understands the role he is given, and I expect that to continue in the 2024-25 season.
7th round, 198th overall: Sami Niku
The first of 2 7th round picks that the Jets made in 2015 almost worked out. Niku, a defender from Finland, played in 67 NHL games and collected 16 points. Niku had small flashes of looking like an NHL defender at times, but the Jets would eventually buy out Niku’s final year of his contract after the 2020-21 season. The Montreal Canadiens took a chance with Niku, but after being sent down to the AHL in 2021-22 with the Laval Rocket, Niku has taken his career overseas. In 2023-24, Niku played in the SM-Liiga with the Ilves Tempere where he collected 1 goal and 11 assists in 16 games.
7th round, 203rd overall: Matteo Gennaro
Last but not least, to round out the Jets 2015 draft class the Jets selected Gennaro from the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL. Gennaro never made it to the NHL, but he’s another late round draft pick that you have to respect as a journeyman who continues to play as of this season. After 1 full pro season in the AHL, Gennaro has played in the ECHL, KHL, Slovak League, Swedish 1st division and finally this season in Austria with Asiago HC.
Overall, you have to say that collectively the 2015 draft was an overall accomplishment for the Jets. Out of the 8 picks, 5 of them played for the Jets at some point, and Connor and Appleton remain on the team today. Connor’s impact alone makes me want to give the Jets a B grade for the 2015 NHL draft. It was a draft to remember for Jets fans, and one that’ll continue to be discussed in the future!

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