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Logan Stanley could be perfect fit for Jets defense

Defenseman (6-foot-7, 228 pounds) aiming to join fellow big bodies on Winnipeg blue line

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The draft-and-develop model has long been the mantra of the Winnipeg Jets, and their already-towering blue line may have another future addition following the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Jets selected 6-foot-7, 228-pound defenseman Logan Stanley with the 18th pick, moving up four spots in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers to ensure they would get him. Stanley eventually could join Jets veterans Tyler Myers (6-8, 229) and Dustin Byfuglien (6-5, 260), who Jets fans have long adored for his highlight-reel hits.

Stanley, 18, has spent the past two seasons with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. Last season, he had five goals, 12 assists and 103 penalty minutes in 64 regular-season games. He attracted the attention of NHL Central Scouting and finished the season ranked 19th among North American skaters.

"We've had an opportunity to see him play quite a bit throughout the season," Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told Jets website. "He's a big player, moves well, has a bomb for a shot.

"He is a guy that is going to continue to grow, grow into his body, grow into his frame, grow into his game. There's lot of room for development, and that's what makes him a really exciting prospect."

Stanley's inclination toward aggressive play would mesh well with coach Paul Maurice's defense, which also includes the physical Ben Chiarot, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba.

"It was exciting," Stanley said of the Jets drafting him. "It didn't really sink in until a couple of days later. [There are] lots of supporters back home [in Kitchener, Ontario]. Lots of positive comments [came] my way."

But securing a position on the Winnipeg roster will require Stanley to continue to improve his game, especially his footwork as he attempts to calibrate his size with the increasing speed while advancing up the organizational ladder.

Stanley took the first step toward that goal early in July by attending development camp in Winnipeg. The five-day camp provided him with an up-close look at his organizational competition and what will be required to reach the NHL.

"It's fast out here, and training camp in September will be even quicker," Stanley said. "[Training camp] is going to be fun. The players are going to be really good, and it's going to be really intense, so I'm looking forward to it.

"I've just got to go home, keep working on my skating, footspeed, and come back to camp in September ready to go."

Character always has been a significant consideration for Jets management, which is working toward building a successful organizational culture. That culture is beginning to take hold as a number of players from recent draft classes begin to turn pro, play together and advance into NHL roles. Part of the development camp schedule included off-ice activities that can reveal a player's personality as well as character.

"Just a good kid off the ice," Stanley said when asked about what he thought he showed off the ice at development camp. "A respectful guy. I think they know what I'm like on the ice. I think they got to know me off the ice and see what I [am] like as a kid."

That growth process began to pay off after his rookie season in the OHL.

"I think I matured a lot, got a lot stronger, and developed my skating," he said. "I think I played with more confidence."

After two OHL seasons and this summer of training, Stanley will be able to match himself against NHL- and American Hockey League-caliber competition this fall and have an opportunity to gauge how far his game has come -- and how far it must go still.

"It will be a good measuring stick," he said. "The NHL is the best league in the world, and that's where I want to be, so I'll be able to see where I fit in.

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