THE first axe fell on the Winnipeg Jets training camp on Monday, though none of the young names who were reassigned came as any surprise.
Ten players were released after Monday's sessions at MTS Iceplex, with one -- defender Zach Bell -- headed to the St. John's IceCaps, and the rest headed back to their junior clubs. Among them were a raft of brand-new Jets prospects from the 2013 draft class, including lanky 18-year-old goalie Eric Comrie, who will resume his WHL career with the Tri-City Americans.
Among the other 2013 draftees, Czech defender Jan Kostalek will return to the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, while Jimmy Lodge will head to the OHL's Saginaw Spirit and offensive phenom Nic Petan will keep developing his dazzling creative game with the WHL's Portland Winterhawks.
The moves leave three freshly drafted Jets in camp, including first-rounder Josh Morrissey, forward J.C. Lipon and 21-year-old Brenden Kichton, who the Jets snagged in the seventh round. Kichton, a highly-regarded prospect who was named the WHL's best defenceman last season, was up for grabs after the New York Islanders, who drafted him in 2011, failed to sign him.
Of the 2012 draft class, scoring forwards Ryan Olsen (Kelowna Rockets) and Scott Kosmachuk (Guelph Storm) will spend another year with their junior clubs, and 20-year-old Lukas Sutter will play his over-age year under the tutelage of his uncle, Red Deer Rebels coach Brent Sutter.
The Jets had three unsigned rookies in camp on a tryout, and all were released from the big club on Monday. Towering Axel Blomqvist, a 6-6 Swedish forward, was hoping to nab a pro contract this year, but the undrafted 18-year-old will instead join the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes and re-enter the NHL draft next summer. Mitchell Theoret will go back to the OHL's Barrie Colts, where he helped lead the team to the OHL final last year.
The 20-year-old Bell, meanwhile, is headed home to play. The 6-2 blueliner hails from St. John's, Newfoundland. He'll now get his chance on the IceCaps roster, having wrapped up his junior career with the Brampton Battalion earlier this year.