The NHL Entry Draft is one of the most exciting hockey events for the fans and one of the most stressful and important couple of days for the teams. There will be plenty of young superstars drafted and there will always be potential busts.
Many teams love to build through the draft and develop their young players into future full-time NHL stars or regulars. The Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Winnipeg Jets are some of the best at doing so.
The Jets have found some gems over the years since the relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and Kyle Connor are just a few of the names that have been drafted and developed throughout their early stages of the organization.
This article takes a look at the 2011-2019 NHL drafts to determine if the Jets made a good pick or if the scouts made a mistake and grabbed a potential bust. It will look at where the Jets selected and the next 10 picks below, based on who else was drafted in the same tier.
2011 – Mark Scheifele
Potential Pick – Scheifele
Scheifele was selected by the Jets at No. 7 overall. Many people believed it to be a reach of a pick, but boy were they wrong. Since entering the league, he has put up 444 points in 519 games and currently wears the assistant captaincy for the Jets. He has solidified his role as the No. 1 centre for the club and is in no danger of giving it up.
Notable players drafted throughout the next 10 picks are Sean Couturier, Dougie Hamilton, and J.T Miller. The only player here that could have been remotely close to a good pick would be Couturier, who was selected one after Scheifele. He has been one of the best two-way centres in the league for the Philadelphia Flyers and has no intention of slowing down.
2012 – Jacob Trouba
Potential Pick – Andrei Vasilevskiy
Jacob Trouba was selected by the Jets at pick No. 9. Trouba had a solid career for the Jets before being shipped off to the New York Rangers for Neal Pionk and a 2019 first-round draft pick (Ville Heinola).
Vasilevskiy is the obvious pick here for many reasons. He is always one of the top goalies in the NHL every single season. He has one Vezina Trophy for best goalie under his belt and one Stanley Cup with the Lightning this past season. The Jets goalie at the time was Ondrej Pavelec, meaning Vasilevskiy would have been a significant upgrade between the pipes.
Other notable selections include Filip Forsberg, Tom Wilson, Tomas Hertl, and Teuvo Teravainen.
2013 – Josh Morrissey
Potential Pick – Morrissey
Josh Morrissey has been one of the best defensemen for the Jets since he was drafted 13th overall in 2013. He currently wears the assistant captaincy for the team and is the leader on the blue line. The Jets made the right choice here by drafting the former Prince Albert Raider, as he will be with the team for a long time after signing an 8-year, $50 million contract extension in 2019.
Other notable selections include Ryan Pulock, Anthony Mantha, and Andre Burakovsky. Pulock has been a solid defenseman for the New York Islanders throughout his career, but simply does not have the same resume as Morrissey.
2014 – Nikolaj Ehlers
Potential Pick – Dylan Larkin
Since Nikolaj Ehlers has entered the league, he has been a top-six forward in the Jets organization and has played extremely well. He had incredible numbers in junior with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which is why he was drafted so high at ninth overall.
This was one of the toughest to analyze based on how similar the two players have been in their careers so far. Ehlers has 259 career points, while Larkin has 266 with more games played. The points are almost so similar that Larkin was chosen as the pick solely based off the need for a second-line centre for the past couple of years. He could have saved the Jets the trouble of dealing for centres Stastny and Kevin Hayes at the trade deadline to make a playoff push in 2018 and 2019.
Other notable players who could have been selected include Jakub Vrana and Anthony Deangelo. These players have no where near been as productive as Ehlers or Larkin in their career, but have had some success with their current clubs.
2015 – Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic
Potential Pick – Kyle Connor and Sebastian Aho
The 2015 Draft will go down in history as one of the best drafts ever in the NHL, with Connor McDavid going first overall to the Edmonton Oilers.
The Jets grabbed Connor at No. 17 and it turned out to be a great pick for their squad. He has secured his spot on the top line with Scheifele, putting up 201 points in 249 games. He will be a great player for the club for many years to come and will be a big piece in building a Stanley Cup-winning team.
Other notable players drafted after Connor include Thomas Chabot, Ilya Samsonov, Brock Boeser and Travis Konecny. All of these players are top-10 talents that show plenty of upside in their game.
The Jets selected Roslovic with the 25th pick in the draft and he has never really found his stride with the squad so far. He has been in and out of the lineup for years.
The Jets would have been better selecting Aho, as he fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. He is one of the best players to come out of the 2015 Draft, putting up 263 points in 310 games for his squad.
Other notable players drafted after Roslovic include Anthony Beauvillier and Travis Dermott. Although both solid NHL players, none of them compare to the Finnish star Aho.
2016 – Patrik Laine
Potential Pick – Laine
The Jets hit the jackpot after selecting the Finnish sniper with the second-overall pick in the draft. Laine has put up 247 points in 305 career games, 138 of them being goals.
Other notable players in this draft include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller, and Mikhail Sergachev. All of these players are elite talent in the league and can make their case to be the second-overall pick above Laine. What sets him apart from the rest is the simple fact that he scores goals at an elite pace. In 2020, Laine was dealted to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Dubois.
2017 – Kristian Vesalainen
Potential Pick – Henri Jokiharju
The bottom of Round 1 in the 2017 Draft was very poor, based on the number of NHL games that players have played so far. Vesalainen has not played a game for the Jets yet in his early career and will be looking to develop into a regular for the team by playing with the Manitoba Moose.
Jokiharju was chosen based solely on the fact that he has played the most games in the NHL with 107. He is a solid defenseman for the Buffalo Sabres and was a regular in the lineup for them last year after being dealt from the Chicago Blackhawks for Alex Nylander.
2018 – No First-Round Pick
The Jets traded this pick in the Stastny trade with the St. Louis Blues, which helped lead them to the conference final that year. With that selection, the Blues selected Dominik Bokk. He has not yet played a game in the NHL and has been playing in Sweden the past couple of seasons. As of today, there are no very notable selections in the bottom of the draft.
2019 – Ville Heinola
Potential pick – Heinola
Heinola was drafted 20th overall by the Jets in the draft and played eight games for them last season. He is primed to play more games this year if he makes the squad out of camp, but could also play in the minors for the Manitoba Moose.
There are not many other notable players in this draft in the bottom of the first round, as not many NHL games have been played collectively.
How Did the Jets Do?
Jets general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, has done very well over the years for the Jets, as he has drafted many first-round talents and have developed them well throughout their system. They are a perfect example of why the draft is an important part of hockey and scouting is crucial to help build a Stanley Cup-contending franchise.