The Winnipeg Jets came away as the big winners from the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery, moving up four spots from 6th to 2nd overall.
As a result, an organization with an already deep and talented prospect pool with receive an additional boost, selecting what will be the best player in their system.
The Jets already boast terrific young talent, with Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor, who was likely the best prospect in all of the hockey in 2015-16, to name a few.
Now, they own the 2nd overall pick from the draft lottery, as well as the 22nd overall pick via the Andrew Ladd trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.
With those two early draft picks, the Jets are set to have a huge 2016 NHL Draft, and should easily establish the most impressive prospect pool in the NHL.
Winnipeg also owns their own second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round draft picks.
Who Will the Jets Draft in the 1st and 2nd Round?
Winnipeg currently owns the 2nd and 22nd overall selections in the first round.
2nd Overall – Patrik Laine (LW/RW)
With the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the 1st overall pick, it is almost certain that they will select Auston Matthews. That leaves a tremendous consolation price for the Jets with the 2nd overall pick.
Over the past couple of months, Patrik Laine has closed the gap between he and Matthews, with a few scouts ranking Laine as the best prospect at this year’s draft. So, it’s no secret that the Jets won big by moving up from 6th to 2nd overall via the draft lottery.
Laine has the potential to be a franchise player. He is a dynamic winger whose games revolves around an unbelievable shot, one which some scouts say is the best shot they’ve seen since Alex Ovechkin came through in 2004. Laine’s release is quick and deceptive, with the result being a powerful and accurate shot. His vision and hockey sense seems to improve each game, and while his skating is not the best, it has seen vast improvements over the course of the season. At 6’4, 209 pounds, Laine has the ability to chip in physically as well. He has an intimidating one-timer which he always sets up for on the power play.
In Finland’s top league, Liiga, Laine scored 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games during the regular season, leading rookies in all categories, then added another 10 goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games to capture the Jari Kurri Award, as the best player in the playoffs.
If the Jets get Laine, which is extremely likely, they will add yet another top-notch prospect to their already impressive pool, and one which has the ability to be a game changer.
22nd Overall – Brett Howden (C)
Getting the Blackhawks first round pick in the Ladd trade was part of a tremendous haul for a pending unrestricted free agent in Ladd. After the Hawks were eliminated in the first round, that pick became the 22nd overall selection.
While who will be available at the 22nd pick is extremely variable, the Jets should have their eye set on Brett Howden, who could certainly be remaining at that time. Howden had a terrific month of April, moving through two rounds of playoff action with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, and then joining Canada at the IIHF U18 tournament.
Howden is a natural playmaker who sees the ice well and can read plays one step ahead of his opponents. He skates well and uses his 6’2, 192 pound frame to hold off defenders and drive to the crease. He also has a valuable shot with a quick release, which he changes angles on to open up the goaltender and create holes. Howden is a responsible center who knows how to play smart defensively. He back checks hard and maintains good position to minimize scoring chances against his team. His draft stock is on the rise, and could turn out to be one of the steals of the first round.
Brett Howden is projected to be a late 1st rounder/early 2nd rounder in the 2016 NHL Draft… Future Winnipeg Jet perhaps?
— Ezra Ginsburg (@ICEzzyG) April 17, 2016
With the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, Howden scored 24 goals and 64 points in 68 games, then went on to add four goals and 15 points in 10 playoff games. With Canada at the U18’s, Howden finished second on the team in goals and points, with five and eight, respectively, in six games.
Brett Howden would be a terrific addition to Winnipeg’s forward corps, providing an all-around center who can get the job done defensively and add an extra edge up front as well.
36th Overall – David Quenneville (D)
With their second round pick, the Jets should target a defenceman. After stocking up on two tremendous forwards in the first round, Winnipeg needs to draft a complete defender, and David Quenneville fits that description perfectly.
The defensive prospects in 2016 are relatively deep, featuring 10 to 15 strong options, giving the Jets some good choices at 36th overall. Like Howden, Quenneville was impressive during April. He joined Canada at the U18’s and was one of the most impressive defencemen, earning a spot on the tournament All-Star Team.
Quenneville is a complete defenceman who can hold his own in all zones. Despite standing at just 5’8, Quenneville is able to compete in the physical aspects of the game, including board battles and clearing his goaltender’s crease. On the offence, he can transition the puck with ease, either with a good first pass on the breakout or using his smooth skating to drive the puck through the neutral zone himself. On the man advantage, Quenneville can set up a play and create scoring chances with safe passes. In all, a defenceman who can be relied upon in all situations as well as provide some offensive upside.
#WHL: David Quenneville has everything you’d want in a 2-way defender except size (he’s listed at 5’8). Such a smart and quick-thinking dman
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 2, 2016
With the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, Quenneville scored 14 goals and 55 points in 64 games before joining Canada at the U18’s and adding five goals and eight points, second among defenceman at the tournament.
David Quenneville would be a terrific selection at 36th overall, adding a complete defenceman to their repertoire which drops off dramatically after Josh Morrissey.
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.