Jets’ Top 10 Prospects – November Update

As we enter the third month of the National Hockey League season, I figured now would be as good of a time as ever to follow-up on my Winnipeg Jets’ Top 10 Prospects piece I wrote back in August and see where the 10 players are at with their respected clubs.

Winnipeg Jets Top 10 Prospects Dylan Samberg, Kristian Vesalainen, and Ville Heinola Update

It is interesting to see some of the players on this list become disappointments to start the 2019-20 season and others surprisingly exceed expectations, making their argument to get moved up the list for next summer’s edition.

Related: Winnipeg Jets’ Top Prospects #11-20

To recap the rules I used for the top-10 prospect list, the players must have appeared in fewer than 30 games at the NHL level prior to the 2019-20 season, or be under the age of 26. Sami Niku, Mason Appleton, and Tucker Poolman were all ineligible for this list, otherwise yes, they would be on it. With those rules now covered again, let’s get you updated.

10 – Michael Spacek (C/RW)

2019-20 Teams: Manitoba Moose (AHL) / Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

Michael Spacek was not able to secure a spot on the Jets’ 2019-20 opening night roster after going pointless in four preseason games. He was sent back to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League on Sept. 27. It was a big disappointment for the 22-year-old as he believed he was more ready than ever to make the jump to the NHL this season.

Spacek has registered three goals and four assists in 14 games with the Moose so far this season. He earned himself a call-up to the Jets on Nov. 13 and was sent back to the Moose on Dec. 4. He did not appear in any games with the club during that span.

9 – Mikhail Berdin (G)

2019-20 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Mikhail Berdin did not get much of a look for the Jets this past preseason, only appearing in one game and stopping all 13 shots he faced. The Jets seemed content giving goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck, Laurent Brossoit, and Eric Comrie the grunt of the work.

Mikhail Berdin Manitoba Moose
Mikhail Berdin is quickly becoming a top-ranked prospect for the Jets. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Berdin was sent back to the Moose where he quickly became the new starter after Comrie got scooped up on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes.

The 21-year-old has played in 20 games for the Moose so far this season and he currently sits with 2.55 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He has turned a lot of heads with his strong play as of late and has been a big reason in the Moose turning their season around in November. He will have a good chance to compete for the Jets’ backup job next season.

8 – Giovanni Vallati (LD)

2019-20 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Giovanni Vallati did not appear in any of the Jets’ preseason games this year and was sent back to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League on Sept. 20.

Giovanni Vallati Oshawa Generals
Giovanni Vallati of the Oshawa Generals. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

He has appeared in 24 games for them so far, registering 10 assists. His point total pace is a bit down from the career-high numbers he set last season when he put up 48 points in 68 with the club. He has still been playing some good hockey and he is a big part of the team that was once ranked the top Canadian Hockey League team back in October.

7 – Leon Gawanke (RD)

2019-20 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Leon Gawanke signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Jets back in May but he did not appear in any games this past preseason. He was sent back to the Moose on Sept. 25 and has been playing with them since.

Gawanke has appeared in 12 games with the Moose so far this season, registering one goal, four assists, and a plus-three rating. He currently averages two shots per game and has been playing a solid two-way game for the club.

6 – David Gustafsson (C)

2019-20 Team: Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

David Gustafsson was one of the big surprises of Jets’ training camp this year. He appeared in five preseason games and was held pointless but Paul Maurice and the rest of the staff liked his play regardless.

After making the Jets’ opening night, 23-man roster, Gustafsson was a healthy scratch to start the season. After what probably seemed like a long wait for him, he finally got his chance on Oct. 15 against the Coyotes and has not looked back since.

Gustafsson has since played in every game for the Jets and he recently registered his first NHL point when he scored against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 27. He has played a fourth-line role with limited minutes, but I really like what he has done during that time. He is a guy who can push for the second-line center spot as early as next season.

5 – Logan Stanley (LD)

2019-20 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Logan Stanley is now in his second full-time season with the Moose after failing to crack the Jets’ lineup once again. He appeared in three preseason games and the club clearly felt he needs more time in the AHL to develop his game.

Logan Stanley Manitoba Moose
Logan Stanley is back from his wrist injury and playing well for the Moose. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Stanley has only appeared in nine games for the Moose this season after suffering a wrist injury in October. However, he is back in the lineup now and he has registered one goal and two assists so far in the 2019-20 campaign.

I think we could possibly see him play some games with the Jets this season if their injuries persist. Otherwise, it will be another training camp in 2020-21 for Stanley to give it another shot.

4 – Declan Chisholm (LD)

2019-20 Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Declan Chisholm did not appear in any preseason games for the Jets this season. He was sent back to the Peterborough Petes in September and has been dominating ever since.

Declan Chisholm
Declan Chisholm is currently leading the OHL for points by a defenseman. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Chisholm has 32 points in 26 games so far this season for the Petes and he is currently the highest-scoring defenseman in the entire OHL thus far.

He has recently made headlines for being left off the Team Canada selection camp roster for the upcoming World Juniors at the end of December. Many people, myself included, were shocked to see the 19-year-old’s name left off the list.

3 – Ville Heinola (LD)

2019-20 Teams: Winnipeg Jets (NHL) / Manitoba Moose (AHL) / Lukko (Liiga)

Ville Heinola was another big surprise this season after he was drafted by the Jets 20th overall in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft. He had an impressive training camp and cracked the Jets’ opening night lineup against the New York Rangers on Oct. 3.

Ville Heinola Winnipeg Jets
Ville Heinola will look to develop his game in Finland for the rest of the 2019-20 season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Heinola played eight games with the Jets before being sent down to the Moose on Oct. 31 and he was arguably one of the Jets’ best defensemen during his short time with the club. He racked up five points in those games with a plus-three rating and he played some big minutes, as well.

The Jets clearly did not want to burn the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract and Heinola clearly wanted to go back to Finland rather than play with the Moose. He was sent back to his 2018-19 team Lukko on Nov. 8 after playing three games with the Moose.

Expect him to return to the Jets’ top-four defense group in the 2020-21 season and he should play for Team Finland at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

2 – Dylan Samberg (LD)

2019-20 Team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)

Dylan Samberg did not appear in Jets’ training camp this season and as we all know, chose to go back to the Minnesota-Duluth of the NCAA for another season.

Dylan Samberg Minnesota Duluth
The Jets need to find a way to get Dylan Samberg in their lineup next season. (Credit: Brett Groehler)

Samberg is once again a big part of their group this season. Minnesota-Duluth won the championship in both 2018 and 2019 with Samberg as a part of the club. Everywhere the young man plays he wins, as he was also a huge part of Hermantown High winning their championship in 2017.

The Jets will try and take another crack at signing the 20-year-old next summer. If he opts to not sign once again and plays his final year in the NCAA he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Here’s to hoping they sign him because I predict he will become an absolute stud in the NHL for years to come.

1 – Kristian Vesalainen (LW)

2019-20 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Kristian Vesalainen was the biggest disappointment at Jets’ training camp this season. His 2018-19 season back in Europe clearly didn’t serve him well and he almost seemed to have lost a step this time around.

Kristian Vesalainen Manitoba Moose
Kristian Vesalainen is starting to heat up for the Manitoba Moose. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Vesalainen has played the entire 2019-20 season with the Moose thus far, registering 10 points in 24 games played. He started the season slow for them but he has picked up his play as of late, registering six points in his last 10 games.

Related: Jets Weekly: Little, Heinola, Line Shuffling & More

The Jets have used a lot of call-ups from the Moose so far this season and it is no surprise Vesalainen has not been one of them yet. I think he will need to take some major strides in the AHL before getting a sniff of the NHL again this season. For what it’s worth, I hope he does turn things back around as I had/still have very high hopes for the 20-year-old Finn.