Winnipeg Jets Draft Brad Lambert 30th Overall

With the 30th pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Winnipeg Jets have selected Brad Lambert from the Pelicans of the Finnish Liiga

Related: 2022 NHL Draft: Live Tracker

About Brad Lambert

There may not be a more divisive prospect in the 2022 NHL Draft than Brad Lambert. At one time, he was seen as a possible first-overall selection and big things were expected of him after a seven-goal, 15-point rookie season in Finland’s Liiga. However, the hype quickly soured as he struggled to follow up his performance in his sophomore campaign. In 49 games, split between JYP and the Pelicans, he scored four times and finished with 10 points. But at the 2022 World Junior Championship, he surprised everyone by putting up five points in two games to lead the Finnish team before the tournament was cancelled.

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Lambert’s skill is undeniable. He’s a dynamic play driver with elite skating and puck skills and can set up and execute a play all by himself if necessary. Although his skill set is a bit rawer than first expected, and he has some work to do on his shot to become a truly dominant offensive talent, he comes from a long line of hockey players; both his father, Ross, and his uncle Dale played for many years in Britain, while his other uncle, Lane, played six seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques. Add in the fact that he’s been training with Gary Roberts since finishing the NHL Draft Combine, and there shouldn’t be any worry that Lambert can bounce back from a rough 2021-22 season and become the prospect everyone expected him to be in the first place.

THW Prospect Profile Excerpt

“He may be one of the more controversial picks in the first round — not because he’s not a talented forward, rather his consistency has lacked over the past year or so. Some still have him ranked amongst the top five, while others have him slipping as far as outside the top-10 into a mid-first-round pick.

“While his numbers with the Pelicans weren’t exactly accurate of what he’s able to do, there’s still a lot of upside to Lambert’s game and the undeniable skill set is what teams will be looking for come draft day.

THW 2022 NHL Entry Draft Guide Brad Lambert
Brad Lambert (The Hockey Writers)

“His speed is incredible. He’s a player that can beat defenders one-on-one with the puck and he allows himself to operate at top speed. His instincts are impressive in that he sees the game at a high level as well. He can open up seams and make passes through dangerous slots, but if there’s criticism around Lambert it’s that he doesn’t use his teammates enough.

“He’s such a dynamic player that often he leaves his teammates out of the play which can cost him at times. That could be a major reason as to why consistency has been an issue for the young Finn. Still, the move to the men’s league this season could be the best development move for the draft-eligible forward as he’s faced a lot more of a physical game that should ready him for the jump to the NHL at some point in the next couple of years.”

Full player profile can be found here

How This Affects the Jets’ Plans

There’s no question about it, the Jets are getting a potential first-line player in Lambert, which is exactly who they need to help give their aging franchise a boost. He’s already demonstrated elite skills as a teenager playing against opponents much older than him. The only question is whether he will develop into the player we saw at the 2022 World Juniors or the one we saw this season. Of course, there were many factors at play that slowed him down in the Liiga, but it’s made plenty of scouts nervous, seeing a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of player in him; one day he’s incredible, the other he’s unnoticeable.

It’s difficult to know how it will turn out for the Jets, but there is plenty of hope. Lambert has drawn comparisons to another Finnish prospect, Aatu Raty, who plummeted in last year’s draft following a disappointing season despite starting the year as a potential top-five selection. He was eventually selected by the New York Islanders in the second round, and in 2021-22, he was once again the dominant force, scoring 40 points in 41 Liiga games and finishing the season with the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Islanders, where he had four points in six playoff games. That’s what Winnipeg is hoping to see from Lambert, and there’s really no reason why he won’t bounce back in 2022-23.

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