Winnipeg Jets – Offseason Prospect System Review

by Jokke Nevalainen on August 31, 2018
Winnipeg Jets logo courtesy of campstore.com

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Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.

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Offseason Moves

 

The Jets have been focusing on re-signing their own players. They got Connor Hellebuyck locked up for six years whereas Jacob Trouba received a one-year deal from arbitration. They’re still working on a new deal for Joshua Morrissey but that will likely get done before the season starts.

 

The Jets acquired center Paul Stastny at the trade deadline last season but lost him to free agency this summer. They had to acquire him when it became clear Bryan Little can no longer play that number two center role effectively, and he was dragging down Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers with him. They haven’t brought in anyone to replace Stastny which means there’s a big opening for one of their youngsters. If those youngsters are unable to take ownership of that role, the Jets might consider putting Blake Wheeler there considering how good he was at center when Mark Scheifele was injured.

 

If you want to get to know the players the Jets drafted this summer, check out this article from our July 31-in-31 series: Winnipeg Jets 2018 Draft Review and Development Camp Updates.

 

Graduating Players

 

Jack Roslovic – 35 points in 32 games in the AHL, and he also played half a season in the NHL – 31 games during the regular season and 10 games during playoffs. Has the golden opportunity to take over Stastny’s spot as the number two center which would mean he gets to play with Laine and Ehlers on his wings – opportunities don’t get much better than that.

 

Laurent Brossoit – As of right now, Brossoit is the backup behind Hellebuyck. He’s 25 years old, and has a really good track record from the AHL. But he wasn’t good at all in the games he got to play in the NHL last season with the Oilers. The Jets obviously saw something they liked because they signed him to a one-way deal as a free agent but his salary is small enough to bury in the minors if he doesn’t deserve the backup job in training camp.

 

Marko Dano – Former first-rounder who turns 24 in November. Spent last season with the Jets because they didn’t want to lose him to waivers but he only got to play in 23 games. There’s more competition for roster spots this season, so the Jets may end up waiving him if he can’t beat out those younger players who are looking to steal his spot.

 

Nic Petan – Petan is eligible for waivers this season, and the Jets don’t want to lose him for nothing. He’s small (5-9, 179) but has a lot of offensive talent, and had a great season in the AHL. The Jets have enough depth to have three good scoring lines, so Petan needs to earn a spot on the third line. But it’s also possible he faces the same destiny as Dano last season, meaning he stays on the NHL roster but doesn’t actually get to play.

 

Brendan Lemieux – 22-year-old winger who is ready to challenge for a roster spot after a strong season in the AHL where he scored 43 points in 51 games. Plays a physical, agitating style which means he’s not wasted away playing on the fourth line. Could eventually work his way up to the third line. Decent gamble in multi-cat leagues but his offensive upside isn’t very high.

 

Sami Niku and Mason Appleton – Both Niku and Appleton had great rookie seasons in the AHL which means they’re knocking on the door for an NHL opportunity. Both will likely start in the AHL and get call-ups during the season when injuries occur. If either one is still available in a deep dynasty league, go ahead and add them to your team now.

 

Defensemen Logan Stanley and Luke Green graduate from major junior to the AHL whereas goaltender Mikhail Berdin signed his entry level contract a bit surprisingly after just two seasons in the USHL. Berdin will likely start his pro career playing in the ECHL.

 

Risers

 

Kristian Vesalainen – Great season in the Finnish Liiga where he scored 22 goals and 43 points in 49 games as an 18-year-old. He got to play big minutes with one of the best players in the league during his time with HPK, and his numbers suffered a bit when he joined Kärpät late in the season for their playoff run – but his team won the Liiga Championship. Great goal-scorer who wreaks havoc with his one-timer. Has great size as well at 6-foot-4, 207 pounds but still needs to learn how to better utilize that size. Pretty good playmaker as well, and his skating is really good for someone his size. On most teams, he would probably start the season in the NHL but considering the depth the Jets have at wing, will likely needs some time in the AHL.

 

Sami Niku – Won the AHL Best Defenseman award as a 21-year-old rookie after scoring 54 points in 76 games. Also got one game in the NHL and scored his first NHL goal in that game. Not many knew about him a year ago considering he was just a seventh-round selection in 2015 but he had a good season in the Finnish Liiga as a 20-year-old when he scored 27 points in 59 games. Still needs to work on his defensive game, and it’s not easy to find offensive opportunities on the Jets’ roster. But he’s a talented offensive defenseman with a future in the NHL.

 

Mason Appleton – Won the AHL Rookie of the Year award as a 21-year-old (turned 22 in January) after scoring 66 points in 76 games. Lots of similarities to Niku with his situation because he was also a late draft pick in 2015 (sixth round, 168th overall) who flew under the radar before that strong rookie season in the AHL. He never even cracked the point-per-game mark in the USHL or NCAA, so his offensive breakout was really unexpected.

 

Fallers

 

Marko Dano – Played just 23 games last season with the Jets and scored three points. At this point, it’s obvious he won’t be a top-six forward but could still be a third-liner if he actually gets to play.

 

Jansen Harkins – Scored a lot of points in major junior but his rookie season in the AHL was disappointing as he only scored 13 points in 46 games, and even played a few games in the ECHL. He was never really considered to be a big-time scorer in the NHL but the Jets probably believed he could be at least a third-liner when they drafted him in the second round in 2015.

 

JC Lipon – At some point, it was believed Lipon could become a good multi-cat player. He was drafted in the third-round in 2013, he plays a physical style that leads to high PIM numbers, and he put up big numbers during his final two years in major junior. But now he’s 25 years old, hasn’t played any games in the NHL over the past two years, and only scored 38 points in 68 games last season in the AHL. His high PIM numbers have followed him to the AHL but it’s unlikely his offense ever would.

 

Prospect Depth Chart

 

Left Wing

Kristian Vesalainen, AHL
Brendan Lemieux, AHL
C.J. Suess, AHL
Nicolas Kerdiles, AHL

 

Center

Jack Roslovic, NHL
Mason Appleton, AHL
Nic Petan, NHL/AHL
David Gustafsson, SHL
Pavel Kraskovsky, KHL
Jansen Harkins, AHL

 

Right Wing

Michael Spacek, AHL
Marko Dano, NHL
Seth Griffith, AHL
JC Lipon, AHL

 

Defense

Sami Niku, AHL
Dylan Samberg, NCAA
Logan Stanley, AHL
Tucker Poolman, NHL
Luke Green, AHL
Simon Bourque, AHL
Nelson Nogier, AHL
Johnathan Kovacevic, NCAA
Jack Glover, ECHL

 

Goalie

Eric Comrie, AHL
Laurent Brossoit, NHL
Mikhail Berdin, ECHL

 

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects

 

  1. Jack Roslovic, C – Doesn’t have huge offensive upside but can be a solid number two center, and has the opportunity to play that role as soon as this season after spending half a season with the Jets already. This 21-year-old former first-rounder could be worth the gamble even in one-year leagues if he earns that role and has chemistry with the high-end wingers the Jets have.

  2. Kristian Vesalainen, LW – I like his offensive upside a bit more than Roslovic’s but I think he needs to spend at least part of this season in the AHL, and he’s a bit buried in Winnipeg because they have so many good wingers ahead of him. Great goal-scorer who can also make plays. Scored 43 points in 49 games in the Finnish Liiga as an 18-year-old. Needs to learn how to use his size more and be more consistent.

  3. Sami Niku, D – This 21-year-old former seventh-rounder had an amazing rookie season in the AHL and won the AHL Best Defenseman award after scoring 54 points in 76 games. Could see some games in the NHL this season but is likely to play in the AHL until injuries occur. Still needs to improve his defensive play a bit more. Really nice offensive upside, though.

  4. Mason Appleton, C/RW – Another AHL rookie who had a great season. Won the AHL Rookie of the Year award after scoring 66 points in 76 games. Another season in the AHL is likely but this 22-year-old forward could see some injury call-ups throughout the season.

  5. Nic Petan, C/W – A 23-year-old 5-foot-9 forward who had a great season in the AHL scoring 52 points in 52 games. Spent the previous year mostly in the NHL but a season in the AHL may have been good for his long-term potential. Eligible for waivers now which means he’ll likely stick at the NHL level this season. A lot of offensive potential but hasn’t been able to show it in the NHL yet. May need a trade out of Winnipeg to really shine.

  6. Michael Spacek, C/RW – Spacek is another Winnipeg prospect who had a good rookie season in the AHL. He scored 17 goals and 38 points in 70 games which is really good from a 20-year-old. Doesn’t really project to become a top-six forward but has some offensive talent and could be a solid third-liner in a few years.

  7. Eric Comrie, G – Comrie is 23 years old now and has played three solid seasons in the AHL after a strong junior career in the WHL. This former second-rounder projects to become an NHL goalie but it’s difficult to overtake the starting job from Hellebuyck, so he may end up being a very good backup, at least until he’s traded out of Winnipeg.

  8. Dylan Samberg, D – A 19-year-old defenseman with great size at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. This second-rounder from a year ago is already really good defensively, he can skate, and he has some offensive talent as well. Only scored 13 points in 42 games during his rookie season at NCAA but that’s actually pretty good considering his age and usage on his team. Potential top-four defenseman with very high NHL certainty but doesn’t have high-end offensive upside.

  9. Marko Dano, RW – This 23-year-old former first-rounder got the Josh Leivo treatment last season, meaning he was too good to be put on waivers but not good enough to actually play for the Jets. He played just a total of 23 games and his ice time was very limited. He could still become a good third-liner but he needs to get some actual games to get there.

  10. David Gustafsson, C – Had a really good rookie season in the SHL as a 17-year-old and was Winnipeg’s first selection this summer at 60th overall. Will be back in Sweden for another year or two but he could crack the NHL roster at a young age because he’s physically mature and plays a really good two-way game already. Doesn’t have huge offensive upside but could become a good, reliable number three center.

 

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And that’s all for now. Feel free to add comments below. Follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.