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Winnipeg Jets

Team Report –   Winnipeg Jets  

2012 Record: 37-35-10, 84 points

General Manager: Kevin Cheveldayoff (Hired June 2011)

Draft Needs: 1. Goal Scorers 2. Skilled Defensemen 3. Team Depth

Recent Team/GM Draft-History: When the Atlanta Thrashers packed up their gear and headed to Winnipeg, they left behind a long legacy of mismanagement and head-scratching personnel moves. Don Waddell had been the team’s original and only GM until he resigned the position in 2010 and handed the controls to Rick Dudley. Dudley ran the 2010 draft, but was released after the team ownership changed and the team moved north. Cheveldayoff became the Jets GM just prior to the 2011 draft.

Don Waddell’s reign as Thrashers GM will likely be remembered for two things. First will be his inability to retain free agent players (the list includes all-star players such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa). Second will be the 2006 season in which he traded the team’s future in a desperate attempt to secure a playoff spot. When looking back at the 2007 draft, you have to start with the trades from the 2006-07 season that not only saw the departure of former 8th-overall pick Braydon Coburn (the 2003 1st-rounder has gone on to have a solid career with Philadelphia), but also gutted the franchise’s 2007 draft.

Since 2007, the team has enjoyed the opportunity to make lottery selections in each subsequent draft. Zach Bogosian (3rd overall in 2008) and Evander Kane (4th overall in 2009) have become tremendous assets to the Jets, but those are the only two players from Don Waddell’s last three drafts that have made an impact in the NHL. With his non-lottery picks, Waddell primarily selected players from the CHL, with little obvious trending, and more importantly, with little success.

For Rick Dudley’s lone draft in 2010, he selected the talented Russian center Alex Burmistrov from the Barrie Colts. Dudley had a plan to build a team around speed, skill and grit, and Burmistrov fit that bill quite well. As did Ivan Telegin, chosen in the 4th round that year.

Last year, Cheveldayoff got his first crack drafting as an NHL GM. With Sean Couturier (the former top-rated prospect) still on the board, Cheveldayoff decided instead to select forward Mark Scheifele. With the remaining picks, the Jets went big, adding five players 6’2 or larger, three of whom were defensemen.

Prospect/Youth Assessment: The Jets prospect pool has suffered two types of serious setbacks over the last few years. The team’s selections beyond the highly-skilled lottery have not developed or progressed as the team hoped, and nearly all of the top picks have transitioned directly into the NHL (with the exception of Scheifele who will likely join the team this fall).

What remains after Scheifele in the pipeline among forwards amounts to a collection of third and fourth line players with limited skills. The only possible exception would be Telegin (2010), the Russian center currently playing in the OHL. Telegin can skate, has good size, and makes an impact in the dirty areas around the crease. He has the potential to become a solid second-line center if he can continue to play that style of game in the NHL. Other forward prospects such as Carl Klingberg, Patrice Cormier and Spencer Machacek have skill, but they appear to be much more suited as forecheckers and shutdown forwards playing a more defensive, two-way style. Grade: C-

The Jets defensive group looks a bit better than the forwards, but will never be confused for a deep pool of talent. Paul Postma (2007) is a big, mobile player with offensive upside who looks like he is closing in on getting an NHL job. Zach Redmond (2008) is another big offensive defenseman. He is just coming off of his first professional season, but could be a rising star. Arturs Kulda (2006) has been on the cusp of an NHL career for a while, but just has not been able to cross the tipping point. Grade: C+

The Jets are in desperate need of goaltenders in their system. Once considered a position of strength for the Thrashers with prospects such as Kari Lehtonen and Ondrej Pavelec, poor selections by past administrations and some unfortunate injuries have crippled the Jets goaltender depth. Edward Pasquale (2009) is the top netminder prospect. Grade: D

Organizational Assessment: The Jets are a team struggling with transition and the mistakes of the past. Still, with moves made by Cheveldayoff (and Dudley before him), the team at least has a solid core of young, skilled players to build around. Up front the Jets are led by young captain Andrew Ladd. The 26-year-old left winger had his name etched into the Stanley Cup twice before the age of 24, and put up 50 points for the Jets this season. He is locked up through 2016. Blake Wheeler (25), Bryan Little (24), and elder statesman Nik Antropov (32) are under contract for next year. Having those players penciled into the top two lines, with Scheifele added into the mix, will give the Jets time to try to restock their prospect bin.

On defense, the story is much the same. Dustin Byfuglien is an offensive weapon from the blue line, and is also under a long-term contract. Toby Entrom (2003) has been easily the best of the team’s late-round draft picks, and the diminutive defenseman will be tending the Jets back end for at least another year. However, once you get past the top pair and Bogosian, the blue line corps starts to look thin. Ron Hainsey had a disappointing year, and although Mark Stuart is a solid defender and character player, the team lacks steady two-way depth.

Ondrej Pavelec (2005) has come a long way in goal since gaining notoriety as the netminder who fainted on the opening faceoff of opening night in his first ever NHL start. Pavelec looks to be the Jets netminder for the foreseeable future. He is 24 years old, started 68 games for the Jets this year, and although he will be a restricted free agent this summer, the Jets will try to lock him up long term.

2012 Picks – Six

First Round: One (WPG)

Second Round: One (WPG)

Third Round: One (WPG)

Fourth Round: None

Fifth Round: One (WPG)

Sixth Round: One (WPG)

Seventh Round: One (WPG)

This Article was written by Brian Fogarty. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Fogarty

Bill is the northeast regional scout for Future Considerations, the Boston Bruins correspondent for Hockey's Future, and a former collegiate goaltender.

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