Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Draft options could change for No. 9 Jets

Consider, if you will, the following scenarios

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TORONTO -- Their spot in the first round of the NHL entry draft June 22, No. 9, is a brewing conflict.

Probably more in need of a quality forward than anything else, it's likely the best player available at their moment will be one of the many high-end defencemen available in 2012.

What will the Winnipeg Jets do?

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff isn't saying, of course, and he continues to be open to trading his pick to move up or down in the draft.

If the Jets keep the pick, then here's a bit of speculation mixed with some element of consensus to help gain an insight at where and at whom Winnipeg could be looking.

The highly likely No. 1 pick is Sarnia's Nail Yakupov, and the top four would seem to also include Mikhail Grigorenko of Quebec, Filip Forsberg of Sweden and Ryan Murray of Everett, at least in some order. Only Murray is a defenceman.

From there, matters are less certain but defencemen Jacob Trouba of the U.S. development team, Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Morgan Rielly of Moose Jaw figure to go with forward Alex Galchenyuk of Sarnia for the next four.

Picks 5 to 8 would not seem to be carved in stone, however, so any element of surprise would see a player from lower chosen, thereby leaving one of those individuals available when the Jets step to the stage.

If all or some of the above becomes reality, then here are some menu choices the Jets will have to consider in Pittsburgh:

Alex Galchenyuk

Who is he: The "X factor" in this draft, according to The Hockey News. He played just two regular-season OHL games after a knee injury and returned in time for six playoff games. Born in Milwaukee while his Belorussian father played there, he's an 18-year-old with high skill.

His situation: Ranked all over the map; fourth of North American skaters by Central Scouting, 16th by ISS, seventh by The Hockey News. If somehow his inactivity sends him down the selections, he might be a tough pass for the Jets, given their needs.

Combine chatter: About his missing nearly the entire season, the personable American with the Russian accent is philosophical. "It was real difficult but that's life," he said. "Last year I played 68 games (83 points), didn't miss a single game, didn't miss a single practice. This year was a lesson, a good experience for me. I take it positively. If you feel bad about yourself, I probably wouldn't have come back. I believed in myself and came back." He said he's not depressed by the wide range of his rankings. "You look at the TV and see the rankings and you can't do anything. You sit on the couch with the crutches by you," he said.

Cody Ceci

Who is he: Thick D-man, already 6-foot-2, 207; Ottawa 67's, 18. has three years' experience in the OHL. Father Parri is a former Vanier Cup winner and CFL wide receiver.

His situation: Ranked sixth among North American skaters by NHLCS, ninth by ISS, 10th by THN. A final cut from Team Canada for the World Junior, Ceci is big-bodied blue-liner already.

Combine chatter: Ceci met with 25 teams, including the Jets, this week. "That went well. Very casual. I liked talking to them," he said. He hopes his experience will be attractive to NHL clubs. "I hope I have the age advantage. I've played three years in the OHL and might have a little advantage over some guys because I have the extra year, might have developed a little more, matured a little more. Hopefully NHL teams notice that." He was exhausted after Friday's fitness and bike tests. "If I was doing that in my basement, I probably wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I did today," he said of the of the ordeal.

Griffin Reinhart

Who is he: Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman, 18; son of former NHL veteran Paul Reinhart. Has size at 6-foot-4, 207.

His situation: Ranked 10th by NHLCS and ISS; eighth by THN.

Combine chatter: Met with 21 teams in just two days here, said he was "pretty sure" the Jets were among them. He said he got no curve-ball questions from teams. "No, I was expecting some," he said. "Some of the hardest questions are the easy ones, like describe yourself in three adjectives, or what players would describe you as." Reinhart grinned when asked about his size. "I think that we all bring a different part of the game and can help an NHL team down the road. The one thing I keep saying is that I've got the height right now and until they (his rivals in the draft) grow, I think it's an advantage for me," he said. The matter of Friday's strenuous fitness testing and bike rides also made Reinhart smile. "I didn't (vomit) but I was there when the domino effect went on," he said. "As soon as one person smells it, they do it, and then the next person, and so on, I was fortunate enough not to."

Brendan Gaunce

Who is he: Centre, 18, Belleville Bulls. 6-foot-2, 215, the kind of size the Jets have said they require.

His situation: Ranked 13th by NHLCS, seventh by ISS, 17th by THN, a wide variety but clearly all see his future in the power-forward department. Gaunce was a point-a-game player in junior.

Combine chatter: Said he interviewed with 24 teams this week and confirmed he did speak with the Jets. Asked if he's going anywhere for further interviews, he wouldn't answer. Gaunce, younger brother of Colorado prospect Cameron, said the rigourous testing on Friday was more than expected. "I think you come in with an expectation but it surpasses that expectation pretty early," he said. "You can only prepare so much for these things... You know it's hard but I don't think I've ever done anything this hard." The range of first-round rankings has not caused him a lot of anxiety. "People are always telling you about them," he said. "I don't think you can put too much into them or you'll put too much stress on yourself. Teams have their own rankings and they don't get (revealed) to the public."

Radek Faksa

Who is he: 6-foot-3, 203-pound Czech centre, 18-year-old rookie with the Kitchener Rangers this season.

His situation: Ranked seventh by NHLCS, 17th by ISS, 11th by THN. His name has been climbing up lists through the season.

Combine chatter: Faksa called his first North American season an eye-opener. "It was a great experience in Kitchener because I've never played such good hockey," he said. "Never played before so many people. It's not easy. I learned in Canada that I have to do more work than other guys if I want to be better. Because in Czech, practising is not like here. It was a great experience. I have to keep going." His size and his skating have got to intrigue the Jets, whether they get to pick him or not. "Right in their wheel-house," said one CHL connection. Faksa said he believes he's more of a playmaker than goalscorer. He met with 26 teams during the interview portion of combine week. Faksa's disarming personality also amused some reporters. He came for interviews only moments after completing the gruelling CO2 bike test and was out of breath. "I'm so tired," he gasped.

Tanner Pearson

Who is he: LW from Barrie Colts; turns 20 this August. Measures 6-foot, 198.

His situation: Not drafted in 2010 or 2011. Now ranked 25th by NHLCS, 33rd by ISS; 36th by THN. Looks like a late-bloomer, and clearly a talented one.

Combine chatter: Likely doesn't belong with our group, but ... there's that Barrie/Jets connection. Again. Bryan Little and Alex Burmistrov. Coach Dale Hawerchuk a Jets icon and current Colts Mark Scheifele and Ivan Telegin are Jets' draft picks. And you've got to account for flyers now and then. "The joke around our room is that we're the Winnipeg Colts," Pearson laughed on Friday. After a 91-point season as Scheifele's and Telegin's teammate, Pearson suffered a broken ankle and missed most of the playoffs. "I think some of the guys are mad at me," he said Friday. "I got the easy one with my broken ankle, didn't have to do the bikes or jumps (at the testing). I've done those bikes in the past. They're very hard to go through. I'd rather have done the testing than have the broken ankle." Pearson spoke with 25 teams, including the Jets.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2012 C6

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