The Winnipeg Jets at the Draft: Logan Stanley

Just to be clear: no, I do not think Logan Stanley is a viable choice for the Jets with what is sure to be a top ten selection. The Jets, however, have an extra first rounder this year thanks to the Andrew Ladd trade, and will get to go up to podium twice in the first round for the second straight year, barring any trades of course.

Now, obviously, who the Jets take with their second selection will have a huge impact on who they scoop up with the second. If they land a prize forward in the top ten, maybe the next pick, which is shaping up to be in low twenties, is used on a defenseman. Maybe it works out the other way around. Only June 24 will tell us for certain.

The Jets second pick will give them plenty of players to choose from, one of which could be Stanley. By all accounts this draft is hard to predict after about the 15 range, and Stanley could be off the board by the time the Jets make their second selection of the day. This draft will be unpredictable at best. Just ask Bob McKenzie and the panel of scouts he surveys to fill out his pre-draft rankings every year.

If Stanley is still available for the Jets at 22/23, they’ll likely give him strong consideration. He fills a need on defense for the Jets, as he is a left-shooting defender. His 6’6 frame is imposing, and his decision making is improving. The Jets may be prepared to take the big defenseman on as a project.

A Long-Term Investment

Just to be clear, most of the prospects we’ve discussed so far in this series could jump to the NHL next year, maybe the year after. Barring an incredible maturation over the summer, Stanley will not. His skating and puck skills simply aren’t NHL-calibre yet, and he’s a defenseman. Most defenseman, even the ones who turn out to be the best, don’t jump into the NHL as eighteen year olds, and many who do are worse off for it.

Stanley’s stats line won’t blow anyone’s mind but Stanley isn’t the kind of guy you bring into the fold for his offensive prowess. His game with the puck is improving, but it’s his nastiness and long reach that NHL teams will covet. Some 6’6 and bigger players are reluctant to use their size to dominate physically, the Jets’ own Tyler Myers being an example. Stanley is not that kind of player. He asserts himself and imposes his will on games with his physical play, his open-ice hits, his crease clearing and his shot blocking.

It’s true that Stanley’s offensive totals are uninspiring. I got a chance to see Stanley play live as part of Team Canada at the U18s and his creativity is virtually zero. Then again, he’s not the kind of defenseman to hurt you by forcing a play that isn’t there. He’s a solid, safe-play-first kind of guy with the puck, and a bruiser who makes opponents pay the price when they have the puck. And, as mentioned, he shoots left, something the Jets’ back end is in need of.

Stanley won’t be in the NHL any time soon, and he won’t lead the league in defensive scoring when he does. What he will do is make the safe play, make opponents’ lives miserable, and probably become a fan favourite. After all, Jets fans love a player who can throw the big open-ice hit.

Stanley is ranked 19th among North American Skaters by NHL central scouting, so it’s quite possible the Jets could land him. Then again, somebody else may decide a physical left-shooting defenseman is just what they need. The unpredictability of this draft is half the fun.

The other half is walking away from it with players like Stanley wearing your team’s colours.