Welcome to the August edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects.
The Winnipeg Jets have had a quiet off-season, except for the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade. They struggle to attract and retain top talent, and their prospects are not as strong as other NHL teams. As a result, the Jets tend to finish in the middle of the pack each season. Although their prospect pool has no star players, some promising pieces need more development time.
As the 2023-24 season approaches, the team faces a lot of uncertainty around their top NHL players. There are rumors of potential trades involving Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele, which could have a big impact on the Jets’ NHL roster and prospect depth chart, ultimately reshaping the franchise’s future.
AHL/NHL to NHL
Ville Heinola – D
Heinola’s chance to secure a full-time spot on the Jets roster will be during the 2023-24 season. If he cannot make the team at the beginning of the season and no longer wants to play in the AHL, it may be in Heinola’s and the team’s best interest to go their separate ways.
Rasmus Kupari – C
Kupari was acquired in the trade that involved Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Los Angeles Kings. He will enter the 2023-24 training camp, battling for a bottom-six role with his new team. In the 2022-23 season, he played 66 NHL games with the Kings and 11 games with their AHL team, the Ontario Reign.
KHL to North America (AHL/NHL)
Nikita Chibrikov – RW
During the 2022-23 season, Chibrikov played in all three levels in Russia, with 31 games for KHL’s Spartak Moscow. He had two points (one goal and one assist) before signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets on May 1, 2023. This contract will start in the 2023-24 season.
WHL to Pro (AHL/ECHL)
Chaz Lucius – C
Lucius started his professional career with the Manitoba Moose in the 2022-23 season. He played in 12 games and scored five points, two goals, and three assists. He then played for Team USA at the 2023 World Juniors, where he helped lead the team to a bronze medal by scoring five goals and providing two assists in seven games. The Jets decided to send him to the Portland Winterhawks instead of returning him to the Manitoba Moose. Despite playing in only six games with the Winterhawks due to a season-ending shoulder injury, he scored 15 points (five goals and ten assists). Lucius is set to take on a key role for the Manitoba Moose in the 2023-24 season after he fully recovers.
Brad Lambert – C
It seems unlikely that Lambert will return to junior hockey. Instead, he is expected to spend the entire 2023-24 season in Manitoba, playing with the Manitoba Moose or the Winnipeg Jets. Lambert struggled at the start of the 2022-23 season with the Moose, only scoring three points in 14 games (two goals and one assist). Despite representing Finland in the 2023 World Juniors, his performance did not improve, and he only scored one goal in five games. As a result, the Jets decided to reassign him to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League instead of sending him back to the AHL. Lambert excelled in the second half of the season, recording 38 points in 26 regular season games (17 goals and 21 assists) and 26 points in 17 playoff games (six goals and 20 assists), including a run to the Memorial Cup.
Thomas Milic – G
Milic had an impressive 2022-23 season despite being passed over in the 2021 and 2022 NHL Entry Drafts. The 20-year-old goalie was a standout player for the Seattle Thunderbirds, with a 27-3-2 record in 33 games, a 2.08 GAA, .928 SV%, and four shutouts. He also helped Canada win the 2023 World Junior Championship gold medal with a perfect 5-0-0 record, a 1.76 GAA, and a .932 SV%. In the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup, he had a 16-3-0 record, a 1.98 GAA, and a .933 SV%, and was named the 2023 WHL Playoff MVP. Milic was drafted in the fifth round in 2023 by the Winnipeg Jets and will compete for a spot on the Manitoba Moose roster with Oskari Salminen and Collin Delia. Alternatively, he may follow in the footsteps of former WHL star goaltender Sebastian Cossa and start his pro career in the ECHL.
NCAA to Pro (AHL/ECHL)
Parker Ford – C
Ford completed four seasons at Providence College in the NCAA before turning pro at the end of the 2022-23 season. He then signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets on March 25, 2023, and played eight games with the Manitoba Moose.
OHL to Pro (AHL/ECHL)
Dmitri Kuzmin – D
Kuzmin concluded his junior career with the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2022-23 season. During this time, he scored 14 goals and provided 45 assists, resulting in 59 points in 65 games. On April 17, 2023, the Winnipeg Jets reassigned him to the Manitoba Moose. In July, Kuzmin participated in the Jets’ 2023 Development Camp. He aims to secure a full-time role in the AHL for the 2023-24 season.
Danny Zhilkin – C
Zhilkin’s performance at the Winnipeg Jets Development Camp in July has strengthened his chances of going pro by the 2023-24 season and playing for the Manitoba Moose. During the 2022-23 season, he scored 56 points (29 goals and 27 assists) in 60 games while playing for both Guelph Storm and Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. Although he is eligible to return to the OHL as an overage player, Zhilkin is striving to move on to the professional level.
USHS-Prep to USHL
Zachary Nehring -RW
After four seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep School in Minnesota, Nehring, is set to play for Sioux Falls of the USHL in the 2023-24 season. He has committed to playing for Western Michigan in the NCAA starting in the 2024-25 campaign.
USHL to NCAA
Garrett Brown -D
Brown will attend the University of Denver in the NCAA during the 2023-24 season after playing for the Sioux City Musketeers and the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL during the 2022-23 season.
NCAA to KHL
Austin Wong – C
On July 24, 2023, Wong signed a three-year contract with Kunlun Red Star of the KHL, following two seasons at Harvard University in the NCAA.
Domenic DiVincentiis – G
In the 2022-23 OHL season, DiVincentiis had an outstanding record of 36-9-2 with 2.33 GAA and a .919 SV%, leading to being named OHL goaltender of the year. DiVincentiis attended the Jets 2023 Development Camp in July of the same year after signing a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $858,333 in the NHL on July 5, 2023.
Elias Salomonsson – D
In July, Salomonsson showcased his talent at the Winnipeg Jets 2023 Development Camp, which led to his success at the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. He represented Team Sweden from July 27 to August 4. Recent reports confirmed his return to Winnipeg for the Jets’ upcoming training camp in September.
Kristian Vesalainen – LW
In the 2022-23 season, Vesalainen signed a one-year contract with the Malmo Red Hawks in the SHL after four disappointing seasons in North America. He played in 15 games with Malmo, scoring one goal and providing two assists. However, he terminated his contract with the club and returned to Finland to join HIFK in Liiga. In 40 games with HIFK, Vesalainen scored 16 goals and made 21 assists, totaling 37 points. It’s worth noting that the Jets still hold Vesalainen’s rights until June 30, 2026.
Ville Heinola – D
Heinola has been labelled a faller due to his struggle to secure consistent playing time in the NHL with the Jets. This caused his agent to express his client’s frustration to the media during the 2022-23 season. Although there is a possibility that he may make it to the Jets’ opening night roster in 2023-24, it is not a guarantee for the 2019 first-round pick.
Prospect Depth Chart
A Combination of NHL readiness and fantasy upside.
2023 Young Stars Classic
From September 15-18, 2023, the Winnipeg Jets prospects will participate in the 10th Annual Young Stars Classic in Penticton, British Columbia. The event, hosted by the Vancouver Canucks, will feature the top prospects from the Canucks, Oilers, Flames, and Jets. The Jets’ roster will be announced in early September.
Top 20 Fantasy Prospects
This section ranks the prospects of the Winnipeg Jets based on their potential to make a positive fantasy impact in the NHL. The list considers their expected arrival date and NHL certainty, but the primary factor is their potential upside.
Cole Perfetti, Morgan Barron, and Dylan Samberg have already solidified their place as regulars in the NHL, so they are not considered in this ranking.
- Colby Barlow
- Chaz Lucius
- Brad Lambert
- Rutger McGroarty
- Ville Heinola
- Dmitri Rashevsky
- Nikita Chibrikov
- Domenic DiVincentiis
- Elias Salomonsson
- Danny Zhilkin
- Dmitri Kuzmin
- Rasmus Kupari
- Thomas Milic
- David Gustafsson
- Zachary Nehring
- Declan Chisholm
- Fabian Wagner
- Anton Johannesson
- Daniel Torgersson
- Parker Ford
- Logan Stanley signed a one-year contract on August 19, 2023, with an average annual value of $1,000,000.
- Rasmus Kupari signed a two-year contract on August 2, 2023, with an average annual value of $1,000,000.
- Declan Chisholm is the only RFA left unsigned by the Winnipeg Jets.
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