(Photo by Jonathan Kozub)

WINNIPEG – You know it’s officially summer when the Winnipeg Jets kick off development camp at hockey for all centre.

Fans got to see prospects like Brad Lambert, Colby Barlow and Thomas Milic while also getting their first look at the draft class of the 2024, Alfons Freij, Kevin He, Markus Loponen and Kieron Walton. Jets director of player development Jimmy Roy shared his thoughts on the new faces after the first on ice session on Thursday.

"All of them are really nice kids. I don't know them as players. One thing in player development, you go around, and you watch your players, and you get to know your kids when you draft them,” said Roy.

“It's early, but meeting with them at the draft and getting to speak with them and seeing them in person here now, this is where the relationship starts. It's been good so far. Really enjoyed it."

It’s been an action-packed day and a half already with a team dinner, pickleball and an appearance from Jets captain Adam Lowry.

"He talked about his path from where he grew up with his dad and being a hockey family. He talked about where he lived, the places he played junior hockey in Swift Current. He talked about the things that he does to prepare himself for games,” said Roy.

“His path, the first time he was sent down and how disappointed he was, how he had to go back down to St. John's at the time, the Moose at the time, and work on his game and figure that out to get back up there. Those are all great growing experiences that kids are going, it's going to happen. So, to hear it from him, I think it has huge impact, more than I could ever tell a kid or a coach could ever tell a kid."

While this is some players first trip to Winnipeg, that is not the case for 2024 second round selection Alfons Freij.

“The whole story is when I was nine years old, I was in a tournament here. Two tournaments, actually. Pretty fun couple weeks here in Winnipeg,” said Freij.

“We lost all our games, so that wasn’t good. But I had such a good time here in Winnipeg. So that’s the story about it.”

The young defenceman has been here since Sunday and has had some Swedish tour guides showing him around.

“Elias (Salomonsson) and me, we’ve got the same agent. That’s why we’ve known each other from the beginning,” said Freij.

“Hooked up with Fabian (Wagner) as well, he’s a pretty good buddy who’s been taking care of me. Have played against him sometimes.”

Freij said he plans to work on his physicality this summer in order to prepare himself to play against men next season in Sweden.


The Jets made Niagra IceDog forward Kevin He the highest drafted Chinese born player in NHL history last weekend. Winnipeg traded up in the fourth round with Buffalo so that they could select He who had a solid season with 53 points (31 G, 22 A) for a Niagra team that finished last in the OHL standings in 2023-24.

He plans on showing off his skills and competing hard at this week’s camp and is looking forward to all of the off-ice stuff as well.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes, but that’s what really helps us get together and get to know the guys around,” said He.

“We all come from all over the world. Some I’ve played against, some I haven’t. Just try to get to know them.”


Brad Lambert is now one of the seasoned veterans of development camp after he was the Jets second selection of the first round in 2022. The Finnish forward is coming off a solid season with the Manitoba Moose as he was named to the AHL’s All Rookie Team with 55 points in 64 games.

As a guy who has been here before, Lambert just wants to help the new guys

“Yeah, I guess. It was funny. We were talking about it with Chaz (Lucius), we feel old for the first time in our life,” said Lambert.

“So, but ya know, it's fun to show the young guys around and kind of be a leader.”

The 20-year-old got to make his NHL debut on the final night of the regular season at Canada Life Centre against Vancouver registering his first NHL point (assist) in the win over the Canucks. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff recently said that there could be some opportunities for the younger players in the organization in the fall, Lambert said he’s super excited about that possibility.

“Obviously there's a lot of work ahead of me this summer,” said Lambert.

“So that's kind of my thought process, is taking it a day at a time trying to get as much better as I can. So that come training camp and ready to compete.”

Lambert along with his Moose teammates went through some notable adversity last season. Manitoba went on a long losing streak early in the campaign but recovered nicely with a huge push at the end of the year to make the playoffs.

“Yeah, I think to see how that group kind of came together and I've said this many times in the interview, when you go through a time like that you kind of come together or you fall apart,” said Lambert.

“And that team came together, a big part of it was the veteran leaders and kind of learning from them on how they handled everything and how they brought us together and one day I'll be the older guy to kind of learn from them and be able to do the same thing.”


Elias Salomonsson did not skate today but will be on the ice for the remainder of development camp. Meanwhile, fellow defenceman Garret Brown (lower body) is here in Winnipeg but will not be taking part of any of the on-ice activities. Brown should be ready to go for the start of the 2024-2025 season at the University of Denver.

Chaz Lucius (upper body) skated alone this morning as he continues to recover from surgery. Danny Zhilkin (upper body) was on the ice but was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey.