The QMJHL, OHL and WHL playoffs open tomorrow, March 26th and culminate at the MasterCard Memorial Cup taking place May 21-31st in Quebec City, QC.
The 2014-15 CHL season started with 10 Jets prospects, but as the playoff season starts just eight remain. Here is your quick primer on each of them.
Nik Ehlers, Forward - Halifax Mooseheads
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 1, 9th overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft
In a tremendous sophomore season with Halifax, 19-year-old Ehlers lived up to and arguably exceeded the hype around the Jets ninth overall selection in this past summer’s NHL Draft. The crafty winger finished the season third in QMJHL overall scoring despite playing only 51 games due in part to Denmark’s participation in this year’s World Juniors. The Mooseheads star also piled up a few accolades this season including being selected the QMJHL’s First Star of the Week and the CHL Player of the Week twice.
Jan Kostalek, Defenceman – Rimouski Oceanic
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 4, 114th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Kostalek, who recently signed a three-year, two-way entry-level contract with the team had a break out season that included earning the QMJHL’s Third Star of the Week honour on Feb. 9th. Kostalek, 20, is in his third QMJHL season with the CHL’s sixth-ranked Rimouski Oceanic and finished his campaign with 43 points (7G, 36A) in just 57 games and a staggering +55. In his junior career, he’s amassed 88 points (17G, 71A) and 128 penalty minutes over 158 games with Rimouski.
Josh Morrissey, Defenceman – Kelowna Rockets
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 1, 13th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Josh Morrissey’s pedigree has been well documented to Jets fans since he was drafted in 2013. Known as a slick skater, he didn’t have the same offensively impactful season he had in the past but has focused on growing his overall game for the logical next step in his hockey career. That being said, he still amassed a solid 38 points in 47 games. His newly formed game, maturity and poise was on display at this year’s World Juniors with Team Canada where he was a stand out.
Morrissey is currently sidelined with an injury but he will be a welcome addition to Kelowna’s back end as he returns to full health.
Nic Petan, Forward – Portland Winterhawks
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 2, 43th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
It comes as no surprise that Petan had another strong junior season, finishing seventh in WHL scoring and putting up a staggering 74 assists in just 54 games. Tack on 15 goals for 89 points and it’s no surprise Jets fans are salivating at his playmaking skills. On top of that, he helped Team Canada earn gold with fellow Jets’ prospects Josh Morrissey and Erc Comrie, all while tying for the lead in tournament in scoring with 11 points.
In addition, Nic Petan will enter Portland’s opening games versus Seattle with more playoff experience than anyone else in the series. The Jets prospect has played 71 playoff games in his illustrious WHL career and every year he has been in the league he has made it to the WHL Finals.
Chase De Leo, Forward – Portland Winterhawks
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 4, 99th overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft
Playing on Portland’s second line most of the season, De Leo completed his fourth and arguably most successful season for the Winterhawks in which he averaged over a point per game and surpassed his totals from a year ago despite playing fewer games. The 19-year-old’s 39 goals tied his junior best and he exceeded his assists with 45 for a total of 84 points on a talent laden Portland squad. His games played total is a reflection of his selection to Team USA at this year’s World Juniors where he played a key role.
Eric Comrie, Goaltender – Tri-City Americans
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets - Round 2, 59th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Tri-City’s all-star netminder, who also shone for Team Canada at this year’s World Juniors, stopped 72-of-75 combined shots in weekend wins over Portland and Spokane to secure his team’s playoff spot. Next up, a first-round series against Morrissey’s top-ranked Kelowna Rockets, who they faced last year in the opening round. For a team that scores an average of 2.64 goals per game, Comrie will be relied upon look to continue his current form and make goals hard to come by for the Rockets.
Nelson Nogier, Defenceman – Red Deer Rebels
Drafted by Winnipeg Jets - Round 4, 101st overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft
After being traded earlier this season from his hometown Saskatoon Blades, the 6’3 Nogier has fit right in with the Red Deer Rebels. Nogier has proved himself to be a very steady defensive defencemen and is often asked to matchup against the opponent’s top line, and he therefore does not put up large offensive numbers. That being said, Nogier has had a great season putting up career-highs in both goals (3) and assists (16) for a total of 19 points.
Brendan Lemieux, Forward – Barrie Colts
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres - Round 2, 31st overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft
Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade on February 11, 2015.
Lemieux, 18, is currently in his third season with the OHL’s Barrie Colts where he scored 41 goals and added 19 helpers for 60 points in 57 games played. He has also compiled 145 penalty minutes, which is no surprise for the two-way player who prides himself on being tough to play against. Lemieux said he's at his best when playing playoff-style hockey. When asked whether he models his game after his father (four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux), he had this to say to NHL.com.
"We're two guys that try and think defence and then, in the playoffs, shutting down the big players and playing your best," Brendan said. "I'm defensively committed but will also take it the other way."