Highly touted WHL centre Harkins slips to Jets in second round

Winnipeg finds Day 2 surprise


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SUNRISE, Fla. — Jansen Harkins had to wait... and wait... and wait. And yet for a hockeycrazed kid who grew up in a hockey-crazed family, there is no better thrill than hearing your named called out and pulling on a team jersey.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/06/2015 (2709 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SUNRISE, Fla. — Jansen Harkins had to wait… and wait… and wait. And yet for a hockeycrazed kid who grew up in a hockey-crazed family, there is no better thrill than hearing your named called out and pulling on a team jersey.

Even if it comes on Day 2 of the NHL draft, some 47 picks in.

“It’s exciting,” Harkins said after the Winnipeg Jets used their third pick of the draft, halfway through Saturday’s second round, on him.

LARRY MACDOUGAL / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Prince George Cougars' and Jets 2nd round pick Jansen Harkins.

“You wait pretty much your whole life for this day. I know this is going to get harder, but this is the start of my NHL career and I’m very happy with Winnipeg and hopefully I can prove them right with their pick.

“(Friday) was tough. You can’t really expect to go first round, but I was pretty optimistic and thought I would be. It was a tough night, but obviously this is probably one of the best days of my life and I’m excited to get going with the Jets.”

Harkins had 20 goals and a club-record 59 assists in 70 games last season en route to winning the Dan Hamhuis Award as MVP of the Prince George Cougars. His father is Todd Harkins, a former professional hockey player who also serves as the Cougars general manager.

Jansen Harkins described himself as a two-way centre, a guy who grew up idolizing current Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler.

He had been ranked considerably higher on most mock drafts, but — like Kyle Connor who slipped to the Jets at No. 17 in first round Friday — he was available when the Jets’ turn came in the second round Saturday.

Harkins was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Vancouver and has dual citizenship. He played for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last summer, and plans on growing his game further with another Western Hockey League season in Prince George.

His dad isn’t the only family member with the Cougars. His older brother, Nicklas, is the assistant equipment manager and a picture of perseverance — he has the rare genetic disorder mucopolysaccharidosis, which undermines physical development.

Harkins’s father played just 48 games in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers before heading to Europe. His uncle, Brett, also played in the NHL and Europe.

“(His dad) started me off with hockey, but I was fortunate my parents never really forced me or anything like that,” Harkins said. “To be able to play hockey at this level and continue, you have to have the passion and a love for the game and enjoy it. He kind of let us figure that out for ourselves (his younger brother also plays) and so far it’s been working out.

“It’s the competition that I love,” he said. “The end goal of winning a Stanley Cup is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was very young. This is just another step. To hopefully one day make the NHL and lift the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait


Updated on Saturday, June 27, 2015 10:58 PM CDT: Added sidebar.

Updated on Sunday, June 28, 2015 7:37 AM CDT: Subhead added.

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