Winnipeg Jets’ Top Prospects #11-20

After taking a look at the Jets’ top 10 prospects in my earlier article, we now delve into prospects 11-20. We saw a lot of depth at defense in the top 10; let’s see what the Jets have stocked up in the next tier of players.

Related: Winnipeg Jets’ Top 10 Prospects

To recap the rules, players must have appeared in fewer than 30 NHL games and be under the age of 26. With that said, let’s get started!

Eric Comrie, Skyler McKenzie, and Simon Lundmark

20 – Eric Comrie (G)

2018-19 Teams: Manitoba Moose (AHL) / Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

Comrie came to the Jets organization with a lot of upside and potential to become their starting goaltender sometime down the road. He was drafted in 2013, now here we are in 2019, and Comrie could potentially lose the AHL’s Manitoba Moose starting job to fellow goaltender Mikhail Berdin.

Most fans have all but given up hope for the 24-year-old. He has struggled in his limited time with the Jets over the years, posting a 2-3 record with a 4.21 goals-against average (GAA) and a .870 save percentage (SV%).

Eric Comrie, Manitoba Moose
Eric Comrie of the Manitoba Moose (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

With the stellar play of Berdin and Jets backup Laurent Brossoit last season, Comrie will be in tough to claw his way back up the depth chart. I still have him in the top 20 because he put up decent numbers in the AHL throughout his career and can potentially flip a switch if given another opportunity with the Jets. He may only get one more shot with them, so he better be ready to answer the call.

19 – Nelson Nogier (D)

2018-19 Teams: Manitoba Moose (AHL) / Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

The 23-year-old has quietly carved out a decent career in the AHL so far, earning him a new one-year contract with the Jets that he signed back in July.

Nogier will play full-time with the Moose again for the 2019-20 season with the chance of a call-up if the Jets face injury problems. I have liked what he has brought to the Jets lineup in his limited time; he plays a defensive-minded game and sticks to what he knows. He still has room to grow, as all young players do. I think if he has another solid year with the Moose we will see him get extended again in 2020.

Nelson was drafted by the Jets 101st overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He has seen action in 11 games with the Jets over the past three seasons and 147 with the Manitoba Moose.

Winnipeg Jets Nelson Nogier
Winnipeg Jets / Manitoba Moose defenseman Nelson Nogier (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

He will be in tough to make the Jets full-time due to their deep pool of defense prospects, but he is a solid piece for the Moose and fills in nicely with the Jets when needed.

18 – Santeri Virtanen (C)

2018-19 Team: SaiPa (Liiga)

Virtanen was drafted by the Jets 105th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He most recently played with SaiPa of the Finnish Elite League (Liiga) during the 2018-19 season, putting up 10 points in 40 games played.

It looks like he will play for SaiPa again for the 2019-20 season. He will need to work on his skating and the offensive side of his game if he wants to make the jump to the NHL in the next couple of seasons.

With that said, playing in one of the top pro hockey leagues in the world is not such a bad thing. Virtanen also played forFinland’s U20 team at the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2018-19, where he put up three points in seven games played.

The 20-year-old’s game is slowly coming along and we may see the Jets sign him next summer. He will then most likely need a season or two with the Moose before we ever see him with the Jets.

17 – Luke Green (D)

2018-19 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Green has had some tough luck with injuries the past two seasons since being drafted by the Jets in 2016. He suffered a dislocated shoulder in 2017 and a concussion in 2018 that sidelined him the majority of each season.

Luke Green of the Saint John Sea Dogs
Luke Green with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL (David Connell/Saint John Sea Dogs)

He will look to bounce back and get a full season with the Moose under his belt for 2019-20. He only played 11 games last season, tallying one goal and two assists.

The 21-year-old projects as a two-way, puck-moving defenseman with a high offensive ceiling. Green is also a very strong skater and seems to have all the right tools to make the jump to the NHL at some point. If he can stay healthy and get a solid season in with the Moose, it could potentially show everyone what he is capable of doing. He will be an intriguing player to keep an eye on for the 2019-20 season.

16 – Nathan Smith (C)

2018-19 Team: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)

Smith was drafted by the Jets 91st overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He had two stellar seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League (USHL), putting up a combined 100 points in 110 games played.

The 20-year-old has a ton of skill with the puck on his stick and is great at stick-handling in tight spaces. He has progressed very well over the years, especially for a kid who grew up in Florida and did not start skating until age 11.

Smith is committed to playing for Minnesota State University – Mankato (NCAA) for the 2019-20 season and is still likely two or three years away from playing within the Jets’ organization.

He could potentially turn into a top-six forward for the Jets, and with his vision and passing, he could be a lethal threat on the power play, as well.

15 – Skyler McKenzie (LW)

2018-19 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

McKenzie was drafted by the Jets 198th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He spent last season with the Moose, putting up eight goals and eight assists in 47 games played. Before that, he played for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for four seasons. He put up massive numbers in his final two seasons, tallying 172 points in 144 games played.

Winnipeg Jets Skyler McKenzie
Winnipeg Jets preseason 2018: Left wing Skyler McKenzie (James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

He is a smaller winger, listed at just 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but his feet and hands are quick and he brings a lot of offensive skill to the table.

The 21-year-old will be in tough to make the Jets this season, he will have to really jump off the page during the preseason to have any chance of making the 23-man, opening-night roster. I think we will see him spend another full season or two with the Moose before he gets his shot in the NHL.

14 – Jansen Harkins (C)

2018-19 Team: Manitoba Moose (AHL)

The 22-year-old is a two-way centre with a strong work ethic. He plays smart in all three zones and makes calculated decisions with the puck. He won’t blow you away with flashy offensive stats, but he plays responsible and strives to outwork his opponent.

He was drafted by the Jets 47th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Last season was his first full season with the Moose; he appeared in 70 games and put up 31 points.

Jansen Harkins, Manitoba Moose
Jansen Harkins of the Manitoba Moose (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Harkins projects to be a bottom-six centre with more of a shutdown, penalty kill-type role. The Jets seem quite set with likes of Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, and Jack Roslovic as centre options beyond Mark Scheifele, so I do not see Harkins seeing any time with the Jets for the 2019-20 season. However, if he keeps progressing with the Moose, watch for him to make a push in another season or two.

13 – Simon Lundmark (D)

2018-19 Teams: Linkoping HC (SHL) / Linkoping HC J20 (SuperElit)

Lundmark was drafted by the Jets 51st overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He split last season between Linkoping HC of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) where he appeared in 28 games, recording three points. As well as Linkoping HC J20 of the SuperElit, where he appeared in 25 games, recording 17 points.

The 18-year-old is a mobile, puck-moving defenseman with strong defensive qualities to his game. He positions himself well in the defensive zone and rarely gets caught chasing. He is another guy who does not offer anything flashy; he just plays a smart, well-rounded game.

Simon Lundmark Winnipeg Jets Draft
Simon Lundmark, Winnipeg Jets, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Lundmark looks like he will play for Linkoping again for the 2019-20 season. The SHL is no slouch, so it is a great accomplishment for him to be playing there as an 18-year-old. He also has a good shot at playing for Sweden in the World Junior Hockey Championship this coming December.

He has the potential to be a top-four defenseman for the Jets. He is still a few years away from that obviously, but he is definitely someone to keep an eye on over the next 12 months.

12 – Henri Nikkanen (C)

2018-19 Teams: Jukurit (Liiga) / Jukurit U20 (Jr. “A” SM-Liiga) / Kettera (Mestis)

Nikkanen is a recent 2019 Jets draft pick and split last season between Jukurit of the Finnish Elite League where he appeared in nine games, recording two points. As well as Jukurit U20 of the Jr. “A” SM-Liiga, where he played in 14 games, recording nine points. Nikkanen also played two games for Kettera, scoring one goal.

The 18-year-old is being viewed by many as a potential steal of the draft in which his stock dropped after playing very few minutes per game with Jukurit and dealing with some injuries. He brings some flash to the lineup and is highly skilled offensively. The Finnish centre was ranked as high as a potential first-round draft pick at the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

Nikkanen is another guy who is a long way away from playing for the Jets. He needs to round out his game in Finland and work on his consistency before we will see him in North America. With that said, the ceiling is high for this kid and he could blossom into a solid top-six forward for the Jets.

11 – Jonathan Kovacevic (D)

2018-19 Teams: Merrimack College (NCAA) / Manitoba Moose (AHL)

Kovacevic was drafted by the Jets 74th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He played 31 games with Merrimack last season, registering four goals and 14 assists.

He signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Jets in March 2019, he appeared in one game for the Moose in April, where he scored one goal and added an assist in his first game as a pro.

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Winnipeg Jets’ prospect: Jonathan Kovacevic

The 6-foot-4 defenseman grabbed the number 11 spot because he has serious potential to make some noise for the Jets as early as this season. We could see him step into a few games if the Jets need him to, but the bulk of the season will most likely be spent with the Moose.

He has a high ceiling in regards to his potential; he plays very physical and aggressive. There is a lot to like about Johnny and I think we could see him with the Jets full-time as early as next season. If you follow the Manitoba Moose, keep an eye on Kovacevic in 2019-20.

Honourable Mentions: Harrison Blaisdell, Austin Wong

Blaisdell and Wong came up just short for my Jets’ top 20 prospects .Drafted in the fifth round in 2019, and the seventh round in 2018, respectively, Blaisdell and Wong will both be playing in the NCAA for the 2019-20 season. Blaisdell will be playing for the University of North Dakota, while Wong will be playing for Harvard University.

Harrison Blaisdell of the Chilliwack Chiefs
Harrison Blaisdell of the Chilliwack Chiefs (courtesy BCHL)

They both got drafted out of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, putting up similar numbers in 2018-19. Blaisdell notched 58 points in 51 games in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), while Wong put up 62 points in 47 games in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

There is a lot of untapped potential in these two, but they are both too raw to be included in this list for me at this moment. Give them each a year in the NCAA and they could both very well be on this list come Aug. 2020.

There is a much better mix of positions in the 11-20 spots. It is nice to see more forwards make the list this time, but the Jets still have a lot of room to improve their forward depth.

I think the Jets are solid on the back end in terms of prospects we may see over the next few seasons; that includes in goal with the likes of Berdin and Comrie — who is still very young.

Keep an eye on these players as we head into the 2019-20 season, some may rise, and some may fall. That’s the beauty of the game, however, you never know what the future holds.