WINNIPEG -- When Jack Roslovic walked into the dressing room on the first day of Winnipeg Jets development camp, he felt like he was realizing a dream.
“It's pretty awesome. No real words for it,” the 25th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft said. “It's something I've always looked forward to doing. Something I've always looked at since I was a
He enjoyed his first skate in front of all the fans at MTS Iceplex as well. He looks forward to being a “sponge” all week, as he learns what it means to be a pro.
“The one skate, I felt pretty comfortable, and I kind of feel in my zone. I think maybe a few more skates and a lift, I'll be ready to go,” he said. “There were a lot of good players out there… It
was kind of fun learning from those guys.”
Roslovic gave examples of Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan, and Brendan Lemieux as the players he enjoyed being on the ice with early on. Lemieux, fresh off signing a three-year, two-way entry-level
contract with the Winnipeg Jets, was excited to be in Jets colours as well.
“It's been a long time coming. We were working on it in Buffalo there. It didn't work out, it was just great to get it done in Winnipeg,” the 19-year-old said. “I'm obviously ecstatic and really excited
for main camp and the rest of development camp.”
Lemieux was part of the trade that brought Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, and himself to the Winnipeg Jets from the Buffalo Sabres. Winnipeg seems to be a good fit for Lemieux, who has close relationships with players in the Jets system.
“Chase De Leo is one of my best friends, and obviously Mark Scheifele in the NHL,” he said. “I know a few guys, so it was pretty cool to be a part of Winnipeg, especially with my coach (in Barrie) is Dale Hawerchuk, so strong ties. I was really excited.”
Speaking of relationships, Jack Connor, the 17th overall selection in the 2015 Draft, already knows Roslovic from playing in the USHL against each other.
“He's a great player and an even better person,” said Connor, who had 34 goals and 80 points with Youngstown of the USHL. He looks forward to meeting even more of his fellow prospects
throughout the week.
“I want to get familiar with the organization, all the people and the players too. It's a good chance to develop, it is development camp, and I'm really going to work on my game this week.”
Ehlers was in Connor and Roslovic’s shoes last season as one of the new prospects. Ehlers was selected ninth overall in the 2014 Draft.
“I was the new guy. I came in and I didn't know what to expect from this week. Even last year I met some incredible guys. It's fun to be here,” said Ehlers, who says he has met Roslovic and Connor briefly. “They're two good guys. They're young like me, and excited of course. So it's new for them, and that's why all the guys are trying to get all the new guys in it, and try to learn from them, and they obviously try to learn from you as well. It's exciting for everyone here and we're going
to have fun this week for sure.”
After a season in which Ehlers recorded 101 points in 51 regular season games with Halifax in the QMJHL, the 19-year-old forward is looking forward to adjusting to the muscle he’s put on so far.
All 14 pounds of it.
“I've been putting on some pounds and I'm really happy with the trainer I have,” said Ehlers. “I just want to go out there and play my game, and show what I can do. And I'm looking forward to this week. I'm really excited to meet the new guys and the friends I made last year. So it's nice to
be here and I just want to go out there and have fun.”
One of the people who Ehlers, Connor, Roslovic, and all 40 prospects at this year’s camp will be trying to impress is Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice, who was in attendance for the
opening of camp.
“I've been to camps where you come off it and you walk out, and you wonder where the guys are going to come from. But there are some players on that ice that are going to play in the NHL,”
said Maurice. “Probably sooner rather than later.”
But that doesn’t mean Maurice is getting ahead of himself. He isn’t putting any sort of expectation on any player he sees this week.
“What I'm trying to do here is find places for the young men that I think are going to get through the Prospect Tournament and come to the main camp,” he said, citing that after being in the organization for more than a full year, he’s more familiar with the prospects than ever before. “The others, I'm watching how they skate, what they're good at, and if they get through to the main camp, I
want to put them in a spot where they can show what they can do.”
In short, that’s what this week at MTS Iceplex is all about. Learning about the organization, showcasing skills, and meeting other prospects. Lemieux is looking forward to all three.
“Obviously I want to make a good impression,” he said. “I'm sure there are a few people in the organization who haven't seen me play or don't know what kind of person I am, so I want to
make a good impression in my first few weeks here.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com