Jets rookie camp begins this Saturday at 2 pm at the MTS Iceplex. It represents the first opportunity for management to evaluate their prospects first-hand, and will help them determine which of these young players may have NHL talent. There’s no doubt that the new franchise’s first ever selection, 7th overall pick Mark Scheifele, will garner the most attention over the weekend, but there are several other players to watch.
(For more on Scheifele, click here)
Prior to this summer’s draft, Carl Klingberg was Winnipeg’s best forward prospect. He’s a 20-year-old Swedish player with good size who possesses a lot of raw ability. Don’t be soured by his seemingly low stats, as he was a 19-year-old playing in Sweden’s best professional league (the Swedish Elite League). When among his peers, he stands out as one of the better ’91 born Swedish forwards – last year he scored 3 goals in 6 games at the World Junior Championships.
Jason Gregoire was a 3rd round pick of the New York Islanders, but opted to sign with his hometown team this summer. He’s coming off a strong three-year career at the University of North Dakota where he made good progress, improving his goal and point totals steadily from year to year. He’s primarily a goal scorer, scoring 25 goals in only 35 games last year. As one of the older prospects at camp, he should stand out.
Ivan Telegin has taken an unlikely path thus far, leaving his native Russia to play Canadian Major Junior hockey. He’s a centre iceman with good size and playmaking ability, and supposedly plays a better defensive game than most Russians are known for.
Zach Yuen was drafted early in the 4th round this past summer after an impressive season in which he led his WHL team in +/-. He is known as an intelligent defenceman with good skill who is held back only by his lack of height (5’11 or 6’). He made a nice impression on me when I met him at the draft – nice guy seems very grounded.
It’s unlikely that any of the other players in rookie camp have a significant NHL future. Though there are some older prospects who displayed good skill in junior hockey, including Eric O’Dell, Michael Kirkpatrick, and Levko Koper, their lack of size will make the transition difficult. Everyone in pro hockey is much bigger, stronger, and faster than those in junior – and not only those you play against, but those you’re competing with for playing time. Of the three, O’Dell has the best pedigree as a former 2nd round pick of the Anaheim Ducks. Here is the complete roster:
|57||Jason Gregoire||5’11”||196||22||WCHA||North Dakota||35||25||18||43||8|
|68||Mike Kirkpatrick||5’10”||185||21||QMJHL||Saint John||63||31||51||82||47||44|
|56||Adam Lowry||6’4″||187||18||WHL||Swift Current||66||18||27||45||-21||84|
|70||John Albert||5’11”||190||22||CCHA||Ohio State||37||12||22||34||18|
|59||Zach Redmond||6’2″||205||23||CCHA||Ferris State||26||7||13||20||20|
|65||Sebastian Owuya||6’3″||200||19||WHL||Medicine Hat||66||0||10||10||8||69|
|78||Kendall McFaull||6’3″||188||19||WHL||Moose Jaw||69||1||6||7||8||78|