If you’ve been paying attention to Gone Puck Wild lately, and shame on you if you haven’t, then you know school has begun as Wild fans brush up on their knowledge of the new teams within Minnesota’s division. This week, that new team just so happens to be the newest addition to the Western Conference–the Winnipeg Jets. Going through Sunday, we’ll break down the Jets’ major additions and subtractions, strengths and weaknesses, prospect pool, 2013 draft class and team outlook.
For the Winnipeg Jets, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft was definitely about both quality and quantity as the club made 10 selections in seven rounds. Of those 10, half came within the first three rounds of the draft. Overall, it was a well-rounded draft class, featuring five Canadians, three Americans, a Czech and a Swede. While the defense was shored up with five blue line selections (yes, including the Swede), three centers, a right winger and a goaltender were also taken.
Headlining Winnipeg’s draft class was 13th overall selection, Joshua Morrissey. At 5’11″ and 187-pounds, he’s certainly not the biggest defenseman, and will have to bulk up and mature as a player before making the leap to the NHL. But he’s not far from doing so. In 70 games with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League, Morrissey led all Raiders defenders in scoring with 15 goals and 32 assists for 47 points while helping lead the Raiders to their first winning season since 2003-2004.
The left-shot Calgary, Alberta native is very much an offensive defenseman, and will fit well alongside big right-shot Jacob Trouba. Described as a confident young defenseman and power play performer, Morrissey makes smooth, accurate passes and transitioning flawlessly from defense to offense. When you consider the talented defenders already on the roster (Enstrom, Bogosian and Byfuglien), he’s going to fit right in.
With the 43rd pick in the draft, the Jets would select Nicolas Petan of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. At 5’8″ 165-pounds, he’s already got a lot going against a potential NHL career. But what a career it could be. In 71 games last season, Petan scored 46 goals and 74 assists for a monstrous 120 points and plus-68 rating in what is arguably the toughest major junior league on the planet. His assists total was first in the league while he tied for first in total points with linemate Brandon Leipsic (Nashville). In addition, he would add nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points and a plus-13 rating in 21 games as Portland went on to claim the WHL championship.
I can’t help but think, had he been four or so inches taller, he would’ve gone top-10, if not top-5, in New Jersey. Does Winnipeg have a potential Martin St. Louis on their hands? They very well could, and he instantly slots in as No. 2 center prospect in the pool, right after 2011 7th overall pick Mark Scheifele.
With their second pick in Round Two (59th overall), the Jets would bolster their goaltending depth with the selection of another WHL product–Tri-City’s Eric Comrie. Yes, after acquiring a franchise defenseman and tantalizingly intriguing stud forward prospect with their first two selections, Winnipeg would then snatch up North America’s No. 2 ranked goalie. Comrie would play only 37 games, as a season-ending knee surgery would sideline him for the rest of the year.
However, in his limited time last season with the Americans, Hillary Duff’s half-brother-in-law would notch a 20-14-3 record with two shutouts, a 2.62 goals against average and .915 save percentage. Not too shabby, but there’s definitely room for improvement, and the Jets will look for him to have an even better season this year.
With their third round selections, Winnipeg went for “meat and potatoes”, as they selected Saginaw Spirit center Jimmy Lodge, and Kamloops Blazer right wing J.C. Lipon. Both had big years, scoring 28 goals and 67 points in 64 games, and 36 goals and 89 points in 61 games, respectively. However, Lipon did so as a 19 year old, and Lodge had to step into the top line center hole left by the departure of team captain Vince Trocheck (Florida). Neither youngster is likely to ever crack the Jets’ top-6, however, they could make for a couple of intriguing third liners after another year in the CHL and a few in the minors.
With their final five picks, Winnipeg would select multi-sport standout center Andrew Copp (University of Michigan, CCHA), and defensemen Jan Kostalek (Rimouski, QMJHL), Tucker Poolman (Omaha, USHL), Brendon Kichton (Spokane, WHL) and Marcus Karlstrom (AIK U18, Sweden-Jr U18).
What a draft by the Jets. How many teams can say they drafted a franchise-type defenseman, potential point-per-game-plus forward and a potential franchise goalie of the future in one draft? Winnipeg’s scouting department also did a good job of drafting a supporting cast of players with guys like Lodge, Lipon and Copp. The Jets have a great future ahead of them, and this draft could be a big reason why.