We are now less than a month away from the NHL draft which takes place June 26th & 27th in Sunrise, Florida. Every hockey analyst and fan looks at the list of young prospects and decides who their team needs and wants. However, predicting the way the draft goes is about as easy as picking lottery numbers. Everywhere you look you can find an expert who is making predictions and rankings. I however do not see enough junior games, and I definitely am not smart enough to rank prospects, so we will piggy back off the people who are and look at the players who may fall into the Jets hands. The Winnipeg Jets will make two selections in the first round this year, the 17th and 25th picks . The 17th, they earned with their play this season, while the 25th pick was originally the St. Louis Blues pick, which the Jets acquired in the Evander Kane trade with Buffalo. Of course anything could happen on the days and hours leading up to the Draft. Trades could move these picks around, Winnipeg may acquire another pick, or trade either, or both of, them away. Like I said it is near impossible to predict this day in the NHL. Aside from July 1st, when players become free agents, and trade deadline day, there are no days on the NHL calendar that see more player movement. Nothing is a guarantee heading into the draft, but this may at least give you a few players to hope for and keep your eyes on.
What do the Jets need?
Winnipeg is a team deep with riches. With many strong prospects on both sides of the puck, as well as in net, the Jets do not necessarily need to focus on anything in particular heading into the draft, this makes my job far easier. Without a glaring weakness on the team, or in the prospect pool, the Jets are free to draft whomever they feel is the best player available. Forward or Defense, play-maker or scorer, stay at home or offensive, every option is on the table for Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets.
The Hockey Writers
The first draft projection we will look at is our very own at The Hockey Writers. Christopher Ralph put together this years rankings (click here to view them all), and had the Jets picking two left wingers from the CHL. In the 17th spot, Ralph has Russian Evgeni Svechnikov going to the Jets. Svechnikov played last season in the QMJHL with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He had 32 goals and 78 points in 55 regular season games and averaged a point a game in Cape Breton’s 7 game playoff run. Svechnikov can be a productive power forward at 6’2, 200 lbs. He has speed and size and that mixture is what makes him dangerous
— Cape Breton Eagles (@CBEHockey) June 7, 2015
In the 25th spot, Ralph has the Jets picking another left winger from the Swift Current Broncos in Jake Debrusk. Debrusk is the son of former Edmonton Oiler Louie Debrusk, and packs a big scoring punch. He tied for 6th in the WHL with 42 goals and added 39 assists in his second season with the Broncos.
Damien Cox is one of the best in the business and he did the ranking for Sportsnet (find Cox’s rankings here). In Cox’s rankings, he has the Winnipeg Jets taking Center Jansen Harkins from Price George of the WHL. Harkins is a 6’2 182lb Canadian who scored 79 points in 70 games this season. Harkins is passed, with 59 of his points being assists, but can finish around the net as well.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) June 6, 2015
With the 25th pick under this projection, the Jets would take another left winger in Nick Merkley, more on Merkley later on
The Sports Network is arguably Canada’s most influential presence in sports. Although they lost the right to live NHL coverage (including the draft) they still have some of the smartest hockey minds in the world under their employ. So, we are using two different TSN lists, one comes from Craig Button, who many believe is the most reliable source on junior age players. The other list is from Bob Mckenzie, Mckenzie is probably the most recognizable figure that TSN has and has just been announced as the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2015 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award.
With the 17th pick, Craig Button, like our own Christopher Ralph, has Winnipeg taking Evgeni Svechnikov, while Mckenzie, like Damien Cox earlier, has the Jets scooping Nick Merkley from the Kelowna Rockets. Merkley is a 5’10 Canadian who plays both center and the right side. He had 90 points in 72 games for Kelowna and added 27 points in 19 playoff games. Scouts rave about the hockey sense Merkley possess’s and though undersized, the guy never stops fighting.
In the 25th spot, Button has Winnipeg landing Mitchell Vande Sompel from Oshawa of the OHL while McKenzie goes with Thomas Chabot of Saint John in the QMJHL.
Vande Sompel, is a left handed defenseman who possess blazing speed, and who developed a bit of a scoring touch this season earning more than a point per game.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) April 21, 2015
McKenzie also goes with a defenseman in the 25th spot in Chabot. Chabot really rised the ranks this season, and his development is said to be very fast. At times he has been considered with some of the top defensemen in this draft.
There are many exciting options listed above, will it be one of these men who will join the Winnipeg Jets? Maybe, but it could also be a whole slew of others. The only way to be sure you are ready for whatever happens it to scroll through all the rankings used in this article, even then, you never know what could happen on Draft day.
Born and raised Winnipeg sports fan and contributor with The Hockey Writers.