We are now fast approaching the start of NHL training camps and there are still two big question marks left unanswered in Winnipeg: when will Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine sign with the Jets? Both have expired rookie deals and it seems that they are lumped in with many RFA’s around the league, waiting to see what happens with Mitch Marner in Toronto. It could be that once one domino falls, the rest will follow…stay tuned.
Shifting the focus to the prospects watch, the Jets will kick off their training camp with the Rookie Showcase Tournament in Belleville, Ontario from September 6-9. Puck drop for the first game is 6:00 PM ET on September 6 against the Ottawa Senators. Below is a look at which prospects got the invite to this year’s event:
Ryan Chyzowski, David Gustafsson (2018 2nd-round pick), Joon Luoto, Bobby Lynch, Cole Maier, Skyler McKenzie (2017 7th-round pick), Kamerin Nault, Cedric Pare, Sergey Popov, Kristian Reichel, C.J. Suess (2014 5th-round pick), Luke Toporowski and Kristian Vesalainen (2017 1st-round pick).
Jacob Cederholm (2016 4th-round pick), Declan Chisholm (2018 5th-round pick), Leon Gawanke (2017 5th-round pick), Luke Green (2016 6th-round pick), Ville Heinola (2019 1st-round pick), Jonathan Kovacevic (2017 3rd-round pick), Hayden Shaw, Giovanni Vallati (2018 5th-round pick) and Scott Walford.
Mikhail Berdin (2016 6th-round pick) and Griffen Outhouse.
Jack Roslovic – It’s safe to say Roslovic has earned a full-time spot on the Jets roster after appearing in 77 games during the regular season and all six playoff games in the first round against the Blues. His scoring touch has yet to translate to the NHL level — just 24 points last year — but, he is locked into a third-line role and opportunity knocks for him to break into that top six.
Mason Appleton – Appleton has probably been the fastest riser of any Jets prospect in recent memory and continues to seem like a late-round steal for the front office. After tallying 32 points in 40 games for the Moose last season, he got the call up to the Jets, showing some scoring poise at times with 10 points in 36 games. Appleton is entering the final year of his ELC and with only 10 forwards signed to the NHL roster at this time, he seems like a lock to play opening night.
Sami Niku – The Jets love their Finnish defensemen and the Niku has not disappointed at the pro level so far. After bursting onto the scene in 2018 with 54 points in 76 games as an AHL rookie, Niku got his chance to appear in 30 games for the Jets last season. He seems to be tied up in that bottom pairing for now, but with the departures of Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba in the summer, his minutes could see a significant spike.
Johnathan Kovacevic – The big, right-shot defenseman has wrapped up his time with Merrimack College and will join the Moose for the upcoming AHL season. Kovacevic has tremendous size on the back end and many believe as a late bloomer he could be an absolute steal for the Jets’ organization moving forward. We will get the chance to see what he can do at the pro level and you have to wonder if he gets a cup of coffee in the NHL this season?
Dylan Samberg – Samberg may be well on his way to a full-time roster spot with the Jets before we know it. He has towering size at 6-4, 225 and has developed his all-around game nicely at the University of Minnesota-Duluth the past two seasons. Samberg plays a very physical style to go along with his strong puck-moving abilities. The Jets took him 43rd overall in the 2017 draft and his potential is really starting to shine through. For Jets fans, they will have to wait another year for a chance to see the defenseman at the NHL level, after he committed to playing the 2019-20 season for Minnesota-Duluth.
Johnathan Kovacevic – “Johnny” as he’s most often referred to might be the quickest riser of all the Jets prospects. Continuing the Jets’ theme of big defensemen, Kovacevic stands 6-4, 207 and I believe he could be a mainstay on the blueline for a long time at the NHL level. He’ll get the chance to showcase his skills with the Moose this season.
Mikhail Berdin – There’s no doubt about it, Berdin is now the Jets’ top goalie prospect, leaping ahead of Eric Comrie last season. After starting 2018 in the ECHL, the Russian netminder made the most of his call-up to the Moose, posting a 12-8-3 record with a 2.34 GAA and .927 SV% in 23 games. He’s quickly snatched the starting job for the Moose from Comrie and might have the inside track to backing up Connor Hellebuyck at the NHL level soon.
Logan Stanley – Many Jets fans have given up on Stanley at this point of his career, but they could be closing the book too quickly. He’s still just 21 and appeared in his first full season with the Moose in 2018-19, tallying 22 points in 73 games. Stanley is a 6-7 monster that focuses more on the defensive aspects of the game. I think where he gets knocked the most is his lack of mobility and puck-handling while being pressured in the defensive zone. Those two aspects will need improvement if he wants to gain full-time minutes for the Jets in the near future.
Luke Green – It’s not that Green doesn’t possess the skills you would want in a modern-day NHL defenseman — smooth skating and strong puck-moving ability — but, the injuries have started to pile up for a young player of his caliber. There’s been some tough luck along the way, suffering a dislocated shoulder in 2017 and a concussion in 2018, that led him to miss several games the past two years. The offensive upside and awareness are there, but at some point, he has to stay healthy to avoid being jumped on the prospect pipeline.
Eric Comrie – Perhaps the biggest fall from grace of any Jets prospect belongs to Comrie. A former second-round pick of the Jets in 2013, he hasn’t exactly turned heads during his time between the AHL and NHL levels. With Berdin coming on strong between the pipes last year, the starting role for the Moose has been wrestled away from Comrie. The 24-year-old remains an RFA as we approach September and it will be interesting to see if the Jets bring him back.
Top 20 Prospects
- Kristian Vesalainen, LW (AHL)
- Dylan Samberg, D (NCAA)
- Ville Heinola, D (Liiga)
- David Gustafsson, C (SHL)
- Declan Chisholm, D (OHL)
- Leon Gawanke, D (QMJHL)
- Johnathan Kovacevic, D (AHL)
- Mikhail Berdin, G (AHL)
- Giovanni Vallati, D (OHL)
- Michael Spacek, RW (AHL)
- Logan Stanley, D (AHL)
- Henri Nikkanen, C (Liiga)
- Luke Green, D (AHL)
- Nathan Smith, C (NCAA)
- Jansen Harkins, C (AHL)
- Simon Lundmark, D (SHL)
- Eric Comrie, G (AHL)
- Santeri Virtanen, C (Liiga)
- C.J. Suess, LW (AHL)
- Skyler McKenzie, LW (AHL)