It was two days all about Connor and Jack, about the Buffalo Sabres retooling and the Boston Bruins leaving their fans spewing curses that would make a longshoreman blush.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/6/2015 (2555 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was two days all about Connor and Jack, about the Buffalo Sabres retooling and the Boston Bruins leaving their fans spewing curses that would make a longshoreman blush.

In a weekend all about bold headlines, with two superstars being selected 1-2 in McDavid and Eichel and with some nutty, concocted deals -- hello Chris Pronger from Philly to Arizona -- the Winnipeg Jets rolled up their sleeves and religiously stuck to their draft-and-develop blueprint.

It's not sexy, but Jets fans are learning a slow build can be just as compelling in the long run as a quick teardown.

Here's a wrap of all things Jets from a few days in South Florida:

 

The first-rounders

It was a draft overflowing with talent -- most declared it the best since the 2003 class that included Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Brent Burns, Mike Richards and Corey Perry, all selected in the first round. The Jets attempted to move up but ultimately stayed put at 17 and 25.

Question is, did the Jets find some mid-to-late-first-round starpower the way the Anaheim Ducks did 12 years ago when they nabbed Getzlaf 19th and Perry 28th? That answer won't be known for five years or so when Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic are, the Jets pray, in the NHL.

Connor's offensive skill screams Top 6 forward with the Jets, and with TSN draft gurus Craig Button and Bob McKenzie having him ranked sixth and 13th respectively, he can be seen as a small 's' steal at 17.

"He's an elite hockey player and he's an elite person," said Anthony Noreen, Connor's coach with the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms. "I've had the luxury of coaching him for three years now. When it comes to a player, when it comes to a leader, when it comes to what he does in the locker-room, this is a very special player."

Roslovic was drafted right around where most had him ranked, but NHL types believe he is just as intriguing a prospect for the Jets as Connor. The Hockey News Draft Guide summed him up this way: "There are those who believe Roslovic benefitted from playing with 2016 draft phenoms Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk, but other scouts believe it was Roslovic that made that line work."

If the "other scouts" are right, the Jets might have found two gems in the first round.

 

Oh captain, their captain

Freep colleague Gary Lawless has been all over this story the last few days, but all signs are pointing to the Jets locking up Andrew Ladd to a new long-term deal, perhaps as early as this week. This is a potentially mammoth signing for the organization, not just because Ladd is their top-line left-winger coming off a career year for points, but for what he brings to the dressing room and the respect he has around the league. Players talk, players gossip. And if a popular captain such as Ladd is out there waving the flag for the Jets it might not mean a cavalcade of free agents instantly makes the trek to Winnipeg, but it sure as heck can't hurt, either.

 

Bye-bye, Michael?

It seems Michael Frolik's future with the Jets can now be measured by days and hours. The pending unrestricted free agent was in Florida meeting with 10 different NHL teams face to face during the interview period that leads up to the opening of the market July 1. He's 27, had 19 goals last year, and is a durable and reliable contributor. He's going to get paid more than the Jets are willing to offer, likely in the $4-4.5 million range, with term, and his loss is going to sting.

 

Hello, Nik

The impending exit of Frolik leaves an opening on the right side with Ladd and Bryan Little, with the suggestion 2014 first-rounder Nik Ehlers could be ready for prime time. The Jets could use a healthy injection of offensive flair up front and the young Dane has that times 10.

He doesn't have to be solely a Top 6 player, either. The Jets top minutes-eaters up front were Ladd, Little and Blake Wheeler -- all around the 20 minutes per game mark. Mark Scheifele (18:35), Frolik (17:30), Drew Stafford (17:29) and Mathieu Perreault (16:15) were next, followed by Adam Lowry (13:45). Ehlers could be in that range, particularly if he earned some power-play time.

And the thought of him on the open ice with the league's new 3-on-3 overtime format has to be oh-so tempting to Maurice & Co.

 

From Russia, with love

As recently as last week, yours truly would have pegged the chances of Alex Burmistrov pulling on a Jets jersey again at less than 10 per cent. It wasn't that the Jets spoke negatively of the renegade Russian, who spent the last two years in the KHL, it's just whenever his name came up the response was lukewarm, at best.

Then head coach Paul Maurice stood in front of a handful of reporters Saturday and spoke of how he had a "lot of time for this player," just a few days after GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said both Burmistrov and the organization had matured.

Clearly, there are some same question marks on the depth chart with free agency approaching, and Burmistrov's ability to play wing and centre -- like Perreault and Lowry -- would give the club that much more flexibility up front.

"I'm a big fan of having nine centre-icemen -- six of them playing the wing -- because those guys are so hard to fill," said Maurice.

 

Something to prove

Make no mistake, Jansen Harkins was thrilled to be picked on the weekend by the Jets, 47th overall. But there was also a hint of frustration with having to wait until Saturday to hear his name called. Harkins was a first-rounder on most draft boards after putting up solid numbers on a mediocre Prince George Cougars squad, but was still there when the Jets made their pick in the second round. He's well spoken and has that hockey IQ intangible the organization covets.

"(Friday) was tough," said Harkins of not being picked in the first round. "But I'm very happy with Winnipeg and hopefully I can prove them right with their pick."

 

More red white and blue

And finally, this...

The Jets big-league lineup is already rich with Americans in Wheeler, Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, Mark Stuart, Andrew Copp and, if they were to re-sign, Stafford, Lee Stempniak and Jim Slater. Over the weekend the club used half of its eight picks to grab more players from the United States in Connor and Roslovic, Erik Foley and Mason Appleton.

Now, before the conspiracy theorists begin planning protests outside the True North offices, remember there are no truer loyalists to the Western Hockey League than Cheveldayoff, assistant GM Craig Heisinger and director of amateur scouting Marcel Comeau -- all of whom cut their teeth riding the buses from Brandon to the west coast.

But staying true to a draft board means staying true, whether the next name up is American, Canadian, Czech or Finnish.

"We don't really look at the passports," Cheveldayoff said about his picks.

A year ago that innocent comment would have had the Jets boss crucified on fan boards and on social media. But with a playoff berth and a 99-point season just fading in the rear-view mirror, most now are humming along from Cheveldayoff's songbook.

 

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