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NHL Prospect Report: Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets

From now until the start of next season, I’ll be looking at each NHL team’s prospect situation and assessing each prospect’s projected fantasy value. With all due respect to turnover leagues, I will be focusing solely on keeper and dynasty leagues, because prospects have minimal value in re-draft leagues. Most fantasy leagues vary in structure, so for the purpose of this exercise, I will be referring to leagues that include a main roster and a prospect roster, each with their own respective draft. Last week, we got a week of recess. 

This week we move up to the 20th-placed Winnipeg Jets

2016-17 Recap

Unfortunately, it was a year of frustration for Jets fans. There were rumors about trades, and in the end, Winnipeg missed the playoffs. They brought in Scott Darling and have kept their defensive core intact. There is some promise for the current roster but prospects are needed.

The Jets are finally rid of Ondrej Pavelec. As a result, Steve Mason was brought in to help Connor Hellebuyck out. Concerns were many including goaltending. However, the penalty kill and shot generation may be bigger issues going into the new year. A prospect or two may need to make that jump.

Now to present the prospects.

1. Kyle Connor, C/LW

Age: 20  H/W: 6’1″/183 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 17 in 2015 by Carolina

2016-17 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL) — played 20 games with Winnipeg

52 GP, 25 G, 19 A, 44 Pts,-8, 14 PIM

Connor was fun to watch for Manitoba last season. He is a young forward that probably went too late in his draft year. As a result, the Hurricanes got a real gem in this forward. Connor is hard to drive off the puck and has a real nose for the net. His physicality gives him a versatility the Jets could use. Furthermore, the forward can play well in all three zones. That is sorely lacking at times in Winnipeg.

He may start off in Winnipeg. Connor sees the ice too well and keeps NHL defenders honest. That is rare to possess. The pivot has first or second line potential in the NHL and could be a boost to the Jets power play down the road. Even better is the fact that he can play some penalty kill, as the Jets are one of the higher penalized teams in the league.

2. Jack Roslovic, C

Age: 20  H/W: 6’1″/ 192 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 25 in 2015 by Winnipeg

2016-17 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

65 GP, 13 G, 35 A, 48 Pts, -17, 22 PIM.

[the_ad id=”384″]Roslovic is a playmaker in the AHL. What would happen in Winnipeg? That is the big question. The USDP saw him be a more prolific scorer. So, which is it? Was last year a fluke? Do the goals return when he starts playing in the NHL?

The key will be for Roslovic to play better in all zones. His lower body is strong, and so is the upper body. The Jets prospect wins battles in the corners with ease. If he can play well on special teams, he is another player Winnipeg can use. No one is saying Winnipeg will call him up right away, but do not rule it out. A 20-year-old who already shows NHL vision is hard to keep down in development.

3. Eric Comrie, G

Age: 22  H/W: 6’1″/174 pounds.

Drafted: Round 2, Pick 59 in 2013 by Winnipeg

2016-17 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

51 GP, 2.96 GAA .906 save pct.

[the_ad_group id=”2221″]Comrie is in a tough spot with the Jets. He is developing too slowly for their tastes. However, when one looks at how porous Manitoba was last year, the numbers tell a different story. He has the luxury of another year to see what he can do for the Moose first.

As he continues gaining more experience, the Jets goalie may be able to post some more respectable numbers. The Moose penalty kill is among the worst in the AHL. It may seem that there is a chance for improvement. That is good, at least. Comrie has to work on lateral movement and playing the way he is capable of.

4. Michael Spacek, C/RW

Age: 20   H/W: 5’11″/ 187 pounds.

Drafted: Round 4, Pick 108 in 2015 by Winnipeg

2016-17 Team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

59 GP, 30 G, 55 A, 85 PTS, 34 PIM, +3

Spacek has enjoyed a solid progression and the luxury of not being rushed in the Jets system. The prospect will play in their AHL affiliate (Manitoba) for the 2017-18 season. His eventful four game stint has Jets fans hoping for more of the same over a larger sample size.

The forward’s best opportunity is a depth role in Winnipeg over the next couple seasons. Spacek must execute better at the next level. Again, his season in Red Deer has to lead to more steps forward. His low center of gravity serves him well near the net and in the corners. The Jets could have themselves a good depth player with some offensive upside in the future.

5. Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW

Age: 18  H/W: 6’3″/ 209 pounds.

Drafted: Round 1, Pick 24 in 2017 by Winnipeg

2016-17 Team: HPK (Liiga)

9 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS, 0 PIM, -1 — split time with several teams

Vesalainen plays the game with a little power. This gets the young forward into trouble sometimes, but he makes more positive than negative. Understand that the player was up against adults and he was only 17.

That will be the key to the Jets’ future development. Vesalainen has to be given room to grow, as he is a bit of a project (3-4 years, maybe). However, expect him to be in Manitoba in two. Once the forward figures it out, then look out. The Finnish forward is not afraid to go into traffic, so it would not take much. He just needs time and the hope he pans out.

Prospect Grade: C

Winnipeg’s prospect situation is okay, as the Jets have some holes in their prospect ranks (especially in the depth roles and high-end defensemen). A few will even think the C grade is being too easy. There are first-round prospects that will take time, but the Jets definitely have their work to do. Development is so vital for a team that has many front-line weaknesses. It may take a regime change or two to get there.

That does it for this week’s prospect report, but be sure to come back next week when we look at the Philadelphia Flyers. As always, feedback is appreciated, and I’d love to hear what changes you would all make to this list. Leave your thoughts in the comment section! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice!


All statistics taken from:

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