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Cheveldayoff adds depth throughout Jets organization at 2019 NHL Draft

Jets select two defencemen, two forwards, and a goaltender in Vancouver

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Kevin Cheveldayoff added depth to every position in the Winnipeg Jets organization during the 2019 NHL Draft.

After selecting Finnish defenceman Ville Heinola 20th overall in the first round on Friday, Cheveldayoff and his team selected Swedish defenceman Simon Lundmark 51st overall, the first of four picks Winnipeg had on Saturday.

In addition to those two defencemen, the Jets also added centres Henri Nikkanen and Harrison Blaisdell in the fourth and fifth rounds, before wrapping things up with the 144th overall pick - which they used to select goaltender Logan Neaton.

Video: DRAFT | Hillier speaks Post-Draft

"We're excited when someone on your list is higher than maybe some other situations," said Cheveldayoff. "As the draft unfolds you start to see different things. People really start going lots of different directions. You talk through some different things at the table about what might be coming up."

After Lundmark's name came up, the Jets made sure he didn't slide any further. The defenceman played for Linkoping's Under-20 team in Sweden (registering 17 points in 25 games) before moving up to SHL to play for the same club.

"He's a good size defenceman that can skate, moves the puck well, playing in a men's league over there he has to fight for his ice time," said Cheveldayoff. "The development path seems to be in good shape there."

Jets Director of Amateur Scouting, Mark Hillier, was thrilled with the two defencemen the Jets were able to get at the 2019 draft - Heinola and Lundmark.

"The NHL game now is guys that can go back, get the puck, and get up ice. That's what these two kids can do," said Hillier. "They can skate, they've got skill, they can really pass the puck. Lundmark can really pass the puck, Heinola is skilled. That's what the game is all about now. Get the puck and start the rush going the other way. These guys can do that."

Video: DRAFT | Simon Lundmark

The Jets stayed overseas and picked their second Finn of the draft when they took Nikkanen off the board. Nikkanen battled a type of groin injury for most of the 2018-19 season, but the Jets liked what they saw earlier in the campaign.

"We're hoping that's an example of an undervalued type of pick where he falls because of the injury and you've happened to have viewings on him at the right time and get a good feel for it, you take that opportunity," Cheveldayoff said.

Following the selection of BCHL centre Harrison Blaisdell - who had 58 points in 51 games with the Chilliwack Chiefs this past season - with the 134th overall pick, the Jets took one more BCHL player over the weekend.

Goaltender Logan Neaton was arguably the BCHL's best in 2018-19. His 1.92 goals against average was the best in the league. 

In 47 regular season games with the Prince George Spruce Kings, Neaton went 32-8-5, then got even better in the postseason, going 16-1 with a 0.940 save percentage.

Though his team came up short in the Junior A national championship game against Brooks, the Jets were impressed with what they saw.

"He's a big goalie, he's grown. He's still growing into his body," said Cheveldayoff. "The weight needs to catch up a little bit there and gain some strength. We feel very comfortable with the development path he's on there and the job they've done in that organization."

Next up, the Jets hold their annual development camp at Bell MTS Iceplex beginning on Monday, June 24.

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