Jets Development Camp Impressions: Wrap Up

The Winnipeg Jets had a slew of prospects out at their development camp from July 3-7, not all of them high profile or known to the fans. In the last look at how the camp went, I’m hoping to rectify that.

In this final installment of the brief series, I’m going to give a quick rundown of what I thought of some of the remaining players. Some players stood out, others merely blended in, and while development camp means next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, it was encouraging to see some players stand out. As for the ones who didn’t, well, they’ve got a whole summer to work on whatever aspect of their game most needs improvement. For some, it’s as simple as hitting the gym and gaining strength. For others, the NHL or even the AHL is a long ways off.

Tucker Poolman

It was pretty obvious from day one right up until the end of camp that Poolman was one of the most mature players there. He shoots well, uses his reach effectively, and isn’t afraid to get nasty. One thing I noticed was that plenty of players, especially the older ones, were taking unusually long runs at him. It turns out Poolman is strong on his skates, however, as he almost never came out on the small end of any collision.

Poolman, as might be expected from an older player, shoots and skates better than almost any other prospect in camp. He never seemed panicked during the drills or scrimmages, and didn’t make any egregious turnovers that I can recall.

Poolman will ply his trade at UND for one more season before turning pro. He’s likely due AHL time before he wears a Jets sweater in the regular season, but for a late round pick who was an overager at the time, Poolman has done remarkably well. This could be another win for the Jets’ scouting staff.

Jacob Cederholm

Some Jets fans grumbled when the team selected another big but not overly offensively gifted defenseman in Cederholm, but I don’t think they’ll grumble too loudly when all is said and done. For one thing, Cederholm was a later selection, and those players often get a bit more of a pass. More importantly, Cederholm skates well for a big man and doesn’t make very many mistakes. No one will mistake him for Erik Karlsson, but for a young player he has very good patience with the puck.

Cederholm’s offensive numbers don’t jump off the page but a defender with his reach and skating ability can go places. The offense may never come for him and he could still be a solid 5-6 defender one day. I didn’t notice him much in this camp, which is one of the better compliments you can give a young defenseman. When I did notice him, I noticed his calm under fire and how rarely he got beaten.

Nelson Nogier

You can put him in much the same boat as Cederholm but throw in some nastiness as well. He nearly fought Brendan Lemieux at one point and was one of the camp’s more physical players. His speed is ahead of where I thought it would be, but the pros are really going to test him.

What I like about Nogier is that he doesn’t back down at all, as illustrated by his shoving match with Lemieux. And while, with just 21 points in 69 games in the WHL last year with Red Deer, he won’t tear the scoresheet apart, Nogier’s enviable size and snarl make him difficult to play against. Again, however, the pros will likely be a trial-by-fire for his quickness.

Jimmy Lodge

The way Lodge shoots the puck, you’d think he’d have one of the better wrist shots on the Jets, never mind on the prospect roster. With that in mind, you’d think he’d score more goals than he does. It’s kind of frustrating really, because every year at development camp since his draft year in 2013, Lodge has teased Jets fans with a killer wrist shot.

Lodge seemed to gain confidence at the end of the year in the AHL, potting his first professional hat trick with the Moose. If he keeps that confidence rolling, he could become a much bigger part of their offense. He’s got a lot of players to leapfrog if he ever wants to make the Jets, but I’m hoping at the very least they’ll let him see some time in the exhibition games this year. That wrist shot, I swear…

Jiri Fronk

Now here was a guy I did not expect to be impressed by. I never got to see him play with the Moose (he was scratched or in the ECHL every game I attended), and his numbers with them weren’t exactly inspiring in his first AHL season. Yet there he was, hiding in plain sight, overshadowed by the likes of Kyle Connor and Lemieux yet constantly forcing me to look down at my player list and say “Who was that?” after showing off some slick hands.

I can’t say I expected Fronk to wow me, and to say he blew the doors off would be inaccurate, but as I’ve said before at these camps, you can tell who the pros are. It was pretty obvious pretty quickly that Fronk was among that number.

The Moose have signed Fronk to an extension, so clearly they’re hoping for more from him in the coming season. It’s going to be an odd season for the Moose (I can just about guarantee there’ll be a juggling act between them and the Jets involving a few players) but they’re obviously hoping Fronk can provide some stability. If he can keep up the hands he showed in development camp, maybe he can provide them that.

Other Notes

None of the goalies blew me away. I wanted to see way more of Jamie Phillips but he got hurt during a scrimmage and that was all she wrote. Very rarely does a camp invitee have a great showing, and all of the other goalies were camp invitees. That said, I did notice some circus saves made by Olivier Mantha in both the drills and the scrimmage, including one highlight-material trapper flash on Connor. The Jets may have some holes to fill in their minor league goaltending soon, so one of those goalies may get a look in training camp. Mantha gets my vote.

Is Jack Glover ever going to attend a Jets development camp? I kid of course, but he was injured this year and missed last year’s and I really want to see this kid play. Another smooth skating, puck moving defenseman with size, Glover intrigues me. The Jets won’t see him for a few year’s yet, as he’s got more college hockey to play with Minnesota. He, CJ Franklin, and Sami Niku all struggled with injuries, though Niku at least took part in some drills.

I really liked Jordy Stallard in camp. Not often a late round pick in his first development camp impresses me the way he did, but Stallard stood out. He’s got good size and posted decent offensive totals last season in the WHL. As he matures and gets more ice time, he’s one to keep an eye on.

Finally, invitees almost never stand out at these things, but Louie Rowe, formerly of the Omaha Lancers, did so, and not just because he’s 6’6. He took a few big hits, at least one from Logan Stanley, but kept his composure, and while I thought he had a really rough first day he picked it up in the scrimmages. He could earn an ATO and a look with one of the Jets minor league affiliates.

And with that, we will bid adieu to another Jets development camp.