Jansen Harkins: A Chip on His Shoulder

After passing through the first round of the NHL entry draft in June, Jansen Harkins no doubt felt like a bit of an underdog, out to prove the other 29 teams wrong. As it stands, it looks like he’s well on his way.

The Prince George Cougars’ star, who was his team’s leading scorer and among their only offensive weapons last season, is starting to get himself noticed. It began with his participation in the CHL top prospects game in January, and culminated in the Jets taking him 47th overall in June. Harkins hasn’t stopped impressing since then.

Harkins’ early WHL numbers were impressive, and many scouts questioned why he fell as far as 47th overall when he was pegged in the top 30 by almost every major scouting service. In a draft where the Jets  already had scoring sensation Kyle Connor fall into their lap at 17, they got another top-flight player far later than expected when Harkins dropped down the charts through the second round.

While Harkins has tailed off somewhat this season, having a rough start to his post-draft WHL career, he’s still showing signs of promise. His participation in the CHL-Russia series for team WHL is a definite plus, and will give the brass for Team Canada at the WJC a chance to see what Harkins can do. He’s off to a good start, contributing a goal in last night’s 7-3 WHL victory. His potential was on full display last season, and his goal-scoring prowess will return once he’s over this hump.

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Something to Prove

Since most scouts had Jansen Harkins projected in the mid-first round for the draft, his slip to the second was perplexing. Of course, as mentioned, since the Jets had previously landed Kyle Connor after he slipped, it was a very fluid and unpredictable draft. Such is the nature of drafts with deep talent pools, but the Jets were a clear beneficiary of at least two players sliding down the lists.

Now is Harkins moment to shine, or rather now and the years to come. His chance to prove the teams who passed on him wrong began as soon as he took to the ice for the Jets development camp, and will continue through the rest of his career. Harkins’ early numbers are concerning to some, it’s true, especially after his 20-goal, 79-point outing last season, but the nature of young hockey players is they can be streaky, and if Harkins gets hot he’s among the WHL’s deadliest forwards.

The Jets, with their loaded prospect pool, have the luxury of allowing the Cougars’ winger to develop at his own pace. They can afford to give Harkins all the time he needs to turn into the successful player he was projected to be. Harkins, meanwhile, will have all that time to prove to 29 other teams they were wrong not to draft him.