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In the System: Jets prospects on the blue line

Outside of the NHL and AHL, there are a number of defensive Jets prospects to keep an eye on

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

Heading into the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, BC on June 21 and 22, the Winnipeg Jets prospect cupboard on the blue line remains stocked.

Thanks to drafting a total of nine defencemen over the course of the last three drafts, there were plenty of defencemen to keep an eye on during the 2018-19 season that didn't spend the majority (or any) of their time in the NHL or American Hockey League.

Two of those nine (Luke Green and Logan Stanley) were selected in the 2016 NHL Draft and have since signed entry-level contracts, while Johnathan Kovacevic (selected in the 2017 NHL Draft) signed his two-year entry-level contract on Mar. 16, 2019. 

Here is a look at the seasons the other six defensive prospects from those three drafts had in 2018-19.

Dylan Samberg (Left-Hand Shot)

The best way to follow up a 2018 season that included an NCAA championship is to win another one in 2019 - and that's exactly what Dylan Samberg and the University of Minnesota-Duluth did.

Samberg and the Bulldogs limited Cale Makar and the University of Massachussetts to 18 shots on goal earning a 3-0 shutout win in the national championship game in Buffalo, NY.

That championship season went along with a year that saw Samberg represent the USA at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship for a second straight season. After a bronze medal win the first year, Samberg and the Americans earned a silver medal at the 2019 event, falling 3-2 to Finland (and fellow Jets prospect Santeri Virtanen) in the gold medal final.

Overall, the 20-year-old Samberg had two assists in seven games at the World Juniors event in Vancouver, while posting seven goals and 19 points in 39 games at the University of Minnesota-Duluth this season.

Declan Chisholm (Left-Hand Shot)

In his third full season with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, Chisholm set new career marks in goals (5), assists (43), and points (48) in the 67 games he played.

While the Petes were eliminated in five games in the first round of the OHL playoffs by Giovanni Vallati and the Oshawa Generals, Chisholm scored twice and had two assists in the series, including a goal and an assist in Peterborough's 3-2 win in Game 3.

Giovanni Vallati (Left-Hand Shot)

After he was acquired by the Oshawa Generals in August of 2018, Giovanni Vallati went on to have his best Ontario Hockey League season. He posted a career-high in goals (11), assists (37), and points (48) in 68 games.

He and the Generals made it all the way to the league semi-final, where they were swept by the Ottawa 67s - who will play for the OHL's J. Ross Robertson Cup against the Guelph Storm.

In 15 playoff games, Vallati scored twice and added five assists.

It was the second time in his career that Vallati had made it to the OHL's semi-final. He, along with fellow Jets prospect Logan Stanley, and the Kitchener Rangers reached that point of the postseason in 2018 before falling to Sault Ste. Marie in seven games.

Leon Gawanke (Right-Hand Shot) 

While the QMJHL playoffs didn't end the way Leon Gawanke would have liked, it was still a memorable 2018-19 for the Jets prospect.

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles were eliminated in five games in the second round of the playoffs by the Rimouski Oceanic. Still, Gawanke had seven points in 11 total postseason games. That came following a regular season that saw his 17 goals lead all QMJHL defencemen, while his 57 points were tied for the third most among the league's blue liners.

On the international side, Winnipeg's fifth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft excelled as well. He helped Germany to a gold medal at the Division 1A World Junior Hockey Championship, earning the country a spot in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

Croix Evingson (Left-Hand Shot)

The 2018-19 season marked Evingson's second season at the NCAA level with the University of Massachussetts-Lowell.

Winnipeg's seventh-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft played 16 games this season, recording two assists.

The Riverhawks were also the team Connor Hellebuyck spent two seasons of his career, from 2012-2014.

Jacob Cederholm (Right-Hand Shot)

This past season marked the first time Jacob Cederholm played in North America full time. The majority of his 2018-19 campaign was spent in the ECHL with the Jacksonville Icemen, where the 21-year-old had one goal and six points in 25 games.

He also found the back of the net in the postseason, scoring once before the Icemen were eliminated in six games by the Florida Everblades.

Cederholm - selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft - also suited up in nine games at the AHL level with the Manitoba Moose, giving him 10 games of AHL experience after getting his first taste late last season following the conclusion of his time in Sweden.

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