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31 in 31

Top prospects for Winnipeg Jets

Connor, Poolman highlight deep crop of young players

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Winnipeg Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets have established a solid prospect pipeline since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, essential to their draft-and-develop model.

 

[JETS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

They were the youngest team in the NHL at the end of last season (average age 26.1), according to HockeyReference.com, and the organization still has multiple blue-chip prospects on the cusp of making the League.

Here are the Jets' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Kyle Connor, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 17 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Winnipeg: 20 GP, 2-3-5; Manitoba (AHL): 52 GP, 25-19-44

Connor's scoring ability was apparent at the University of Michigan in 2015-16, when he had 71 points (35 goals, 36 assists) in 38 games in his one NCAA season.

The left wing (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) began last season with the Jets but only found a foothold in the pro game after being sent to Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Dec. 9.

In the AHL, the 20-year-old scored 25 goals in 52 games, trending back toward the dynamic, playmaking forward with great offensive instincts.

If a stronger Connor does stick in the League this season, he'd be the sixth player chosen by the Jets with their first pick in the NHL Draft on their roster (Mark Scheifele, 2011; Jacob Trouba, 2012; Josh Morrissey, 2013; Nikolaj Ehlers, 2014; Connor, 2015; Patrik Laine, 2016).

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Jack Roslovic, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 25 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Winnipeg: 1 GP, 0-0-0; Manitoba (AHL): 65 GP, 13-35-48

After one season at Miami of Ohio, where he showed promise but was not dominant (10-16-26 in 36 games), Roslovic, 20, surprised some by choosing to turn pro.

Hindsight shows that move last season was wise for Roslovic's development. The center (6-1, 187) showed improvement in the AHL, with 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) in 65 games. His creativity and hockey IQ are above average, and he was rewarded with a recall for his first NHL game in his hometown of Columbus on April 6.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Eric Comrie, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 59 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Winnipeg: 1 GP, 1-0-0, 4.05 goals-against average, .897 save percentage; Manitoba (AHL): 51 GP, 19-26-2, 2.96 GAA, .906 save percentage

Comrie, 22, played in 97 AHL games over two seasons. His development may not be as apparent compared to other prospects, but he may be the most technically sound goalie in the Jets system. The organization's patience with him is an essential part of the foundation he's building.

Comrie (6-1, 175) won his NHL debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 6. He may push for NHL time this season, but the Jets' signing of veteran Steve Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million contract (average annual value $4.1 million) may hint at the long-term timetable that has been established.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

Video: WPG@CBJ: Comrie lays out for the save in NHL debut

 

4. Brendan Lemieux, LW

How acquired: Trade from Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 11, 2015

Last season: Manitoba (AHL): 61 GP, 12-7-19

An antagonistic, physical style has been Lemieux's calling card through his developing years in junior and last season as a rookie in Manitoba.

Lemieux (6-1, 210) plays with an edge and an abrasiveness that he has worked to control. The 21-year-old son of former NHL forward Claude Lemieux made strides in that area last season, and given his good hands and tough-to-play-against style, chances are the Jets will be able to find a spot for him soon in their bottom six.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Tucker Poolman, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 127 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: University of North Dakota (NCAA): 38 GP, 7-23-30

Agile and mobile with a good shot that always seems to get through, Poolman (6-2, 199) excelled in college at both ends of the ice.

A late bloomer, the 24-year-old was North Dakota's most valuable player last season and signed his first pro contract March 30.

Poolman has spent the offseason rehabilitating after bilateral shoulder surgery. It wouldn't be surprising if he spent some time in the AHL this season, but a defenseman with his abilities, and someone who also can run a power play, figures to push for NHL time soon.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Winnipeg Jets 2017-18 season preview

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