PENTICTON, B.C. — The Winnipeg Jets have put much focus and many resources into improving their organizational depth in their first two years back in the NHL.
The results of their first two games at the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic tournament at the South Okanagan Events Centre would suggest some real results in that area.
Sparked by a two-goal effort by 2012 draft pick Scott Kosmachuk and a strong game by goalie Eric Comrie, a 2013 pick, the Jets waxed the young Edmonton Oilers 7-2 on Saturday night for their second win in as many days.
Kosmachuk has three goals now in this tournament.
The third-rounder of his draft class, likely to be returning to the OHL’s Guelph Storm for one more year this fall, has been a standout so far.
"The skill level, he can shoot the puck but the skill level came out in tonight’s game," said Keith McCambridge, coach of the St. John’s IceCaps who’s handling the Jets’ bench in this tournament. "I really liked that goal, driving down the wall there and the shot when he found that area.
"And his short game, his first couple of strides are really strong. He can get there quickly. I liked the way he played tonight."
Kosmachuk, who fired 35 goals last season in the OHL, said he’s feeling the results of some of his summer training.
"Obviously I’ve been working on everything this summer, skating, shooting, stickhandling, working on my overall strength and fitness," the right-winger said. "It’s just a bigger, better me I guess.
"We had a couple of practices to get together and work as a team and get some kinks out. There are still a few there but it’s working them out."
No doubt he’s been helped by being placed on a line with top prospect Mark Scheifele and Lukas Sutter.
"Definitely, (Mark) is a highly touted player and it’s great to have him on a line, centring us," he said. "It just makes it that much easier."
The Jets led 3-0 and 6-0 by periods. Their big leads helped ease Comrie into a comfort zone and he responded with a final tally of 34 saves, many of them during 11 Edmonton power plays.
Only Greg Chase and Kyle Platzer beat him in the third period when the result had long been determined.
It was an exciting development, given that Comrie’s 2012-13 junior season ended prematurely due to hip surgery.
"I feel 110 per cent right now, better than I ever have," the 18-year-old goalie, a second-round pick this summer, said. "Faster, quicker, more flexible. Just excited to get this season going.
"I felt great. I was really excited to get out there and just be here with a great group of guys. Just being here, seeing (Mark) Scheifele’s and Jacob Trouba’s name across the locker room was really exciting.
"A lot of good rookies here. I’m just excited to be here."
When the Oilers, who have lost both starts here, had much trouble slowing down this group of fleet Jets, the game descended into many fouls and chippiness.
"It’s not fun," McCambridge said. "The third period, the back half of the second, the game gets a little bit out of structure for me and the same for the players.
"Some penalties you agree with, some you don’t. I did like our work ethic.
"Even for the penalty trouble we got in, we still had a pretty high compete level. For the second game for this group together, they played with some pretty good hockey sense and awareness. Regardless of the score, they kept pushing.
"I liked the fact we didn’t lay off the gas for a long period of time."
Tryout Axel Blomqvist, who played last year in the WHL for Lethbridge, also scored twice, while Jets’ singles came from Nic Petan, Ryan Olsen and tryout Mitch Theoret, who scored for the second straight night.
Winnipeg wraps up this tournament with a Monday day game, 1:30 p.m. CT against the Vancouver Canucks.