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Summer school

Jets prospects hit the ice next week -- chance for youngsters to be studied and get lessons in turning pro

Posted: 07/5/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 07/5/2014 9:40 AM | Updates

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They are coming. Maybe not in a wave next fall, but perhaps in the months not long after.

They are goalies and defencemen, centres and wingers.

The Winnipeg Jets' prospect pool isn't the shallow collection it once was when the Atlanta Thrashers pulled up stakes and headed north. It's much deeper now, courtesy four drafts for Kevin Cheveldayoff and his scouting staff.

And as much as the organization's draft-and-develop blueprint can be a tough sell in the wake of the free-agent feeding frenzy by the Jets' Central Division rivals last week, it does remain the cornerstone to their blueprint.

That's what should make the Jets' third annual Development Camp, which opens Monday at MTS Iceplex, an intriguing mid-summer study.

Who's ready now? Who's flashing the most upside? And, of the new free-agent faces looking for a shot, who jumps off the page to earn a training-camp invite?

Now, this year's camp will feature just one first-round draft pick in Nikolai Ehlers as Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba are already with the big club and Josh Morrissey, selected last summer, is coming off a campaign in which he played 112 games between the Prince Albert Raiders, Team Canada's world junior side and the St. John's IceCaps and has been told to take some much needed R & R.

But six of the seven players chosen at last week's draft -- all but Russian Pavel Kraskovsky -- will be in attendance next week.

That alone makes it worth eyeballing. Here's our take on some of the reasons to pay attention to all the talent assembled at MTS Iceplex next week in our third Handy-Dandy Guide to Jets' D-Camp:

 

THE FIRST-ROUNDER...

42 Nikolai Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads: His skill level is obvious -- 49 goals, 104 points for Halifax last year -- but it's his hockey sense Jets brass raved about before taking him in last month's NHL Draft. That's an intangible not always easy to gauge in something like a development camp, but first-rounders are always under the microscope and Ehlers will be no different than Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey before him.


FIVE TO STUDY CLOSELY

30 Connor Hellebuyck, G, University of Massachusetts-Lowell: By now you know of his credentials -- he won the inaugural Mike Richter Award as the most outstanding goaltender in the NCAA -- before signing with the Jets. He was with Team USA at the worlds and figures to open the season in St. John's. His career is an arrow pointing straight to the sky.

72 Scott Kosmachuk, RW, Guelph Storm: He's done everything and then some since the Jets drafted him in 2012. His point totals with the Storm jumped from 59 to 65 to 101 and it's the attention to detail in his own end that has the parent club excited.

60 Eric Comrie, G, Tri-City Americans/St. John's IceCaps: He's on Team Canada's radar as a candidate for the world junior squad. Doesn't turn 19 until Sunday.

46 J.C. Lipon, RW, St. John's IceCaps: It's not his offensive totals that jump off the page -- nine goals and 33 assists in 72 games on The Rock -- it's the sandpaper element to his game that makes him an intriguing possibility for the Jets this fall in the makeover of their third and fourth lines.

54 Tucker Poolman, D Omaha Lancers (USHL): Headed for UND in the fall after being named USA Hockey's top junior player. He's got size at 6-3, 200 pounds and some offensive finish.

 

THE 'TOBAN FACTOR

Four Manitobans will be at the camp, two Jets/Thrashers draft picks and two attending as free agents:

75 Jason Kasdorf, G, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Was outstanding as a freshman -- named the ECAC's top rookie -- the Winnipegger and former Portage Terrier had most of his second year wiped out by injury.

84 Peter Stoykewych, D, Colorado College: A draft pick dating back to the Thrashers days, this product of St. John's-Ravenscourt and the Winnipeg Blues was named to the WCHA Final Five all-star team.

64 Nolan Zajac, D, University of Denver: Comes from good stock as part of the Zajac clan in Winnipeg that includes older brother Travis of the New Jersey Devils. Was Denver's most valuable freshman in 2012-13.

82 Brendan Harms, RW, Bemidji State: Steinbach product and another former Portage Terrier, Harms finished fourth in scoring at BSU with seven goals and 14 assists in 38 games.

 

DEVELOPMENT CAMP BY THE NUMBERS

37 -- Players in attendance

23 -- Jets/Thrashers draft choices

15 -- NCAA players

8 -- WHL

4 -- AHL

4 -- USHL

3 -- OHL

2 -- QMJHL

1 -- Other

OLDEST -- Jussi Olkinuora, 23 years, 8 months

YOUNGEST -- Nelson Nogier, 18 years, 38 days

TALLEST -- Axel Blomqvist, Matt Ustaski: 6-6

SHORTEST -- Nic Petan, 5-9

HEAVIEST -- Ustaski, 225 pounds

LIGHTEST -- Nikolai Ehlers, 163 pounds

 

THE D-CAMP SKED

All practices are at MTS Iceplex are free and open to the public.

DATE, GROUP A, GROUP B

Mon., July 7, 2:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m.

Tue., July 8,  9:30 a.m., 11 a.m.

Wed., July 9,  11 a.m., 9:30 a.m.

Thu., July 10,  9:30 a.m., 11 a.m.

Fri,, July 11,  10:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2014 C2

History

Updated on Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 9:40 AM CDT: Schedule formatting fixed

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