Five players the Winnipeg Jets should consider drafting at #9

Mitchell Leff

Who will be on the board when the Jets pick ninth overall? Who should they select? Hard to say, but these players will surely be on their radar.

Today, the Winnipeg Jets (barring a trade) will select a player ninth overall in the NHL draft. Today is an exciting yet anxious day for many people. This is true for the fans, the teams and the players who are about to embark on an incredible journey. The Jets once again fell short of the postseason and found themselves with a high pick in this years draft.

A top ten pick is a coveted asset. Weather you trade the pick or use it, it’s a special thing to have in your pocket. With circling trade rumors, Jets' General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will have many decisions to make. But we've already considered trades. Now let's suppose the Jets retain the 9th overall pick.

Picking 9th isn't as simple as calling the 9th guys on Kevin Cheveldayoff's list. As was the case with Jacob Trouba, a high ranked player could fall. The draft can get crazy, players fall, teams draft sleepers, its a night that fuels fans of emotions mainly from media reports.

Here are some players that the Jets could consider selecting with their number nine pick:

Jake Virtanen

2013-2014 Stats: GP: 71  G: 45  A: 26  Pts: 71

Height: 6’1

Team: Calgary Hitmen

Virtanen is a big man with speed and acceleration. His shot is released quickly and it hits the net hard. Virtanen is a top 10 talent, but with concerns about his shoulder (he underwent shoulder surgery this offseason) many have placed him out of the top 10 in some mock drafts. When healthy, Virtanen is an exciting player whose ability to drive to the net reminds me of Jets forward Blake Wheeler.

Video:

William Nylander

2013-14 Stats (MODO): GP: 22 G: 1 A: 6 P: 7

Position: Centre

Height: 5’11

Weight: 174

Team(s): Modo (SweHL)

Nylander has been regarded  by some as possibly the most skilled player in the draft.  He skates well, has a loaded toolbox filled with tricks. He is a magician with the puck. Good skater, great hands and a solid shot. Great vision accompanied by his playmaking ability, which is equally as good as his scoring ability. Some question his character, but these type of thing can be little more rumor. Plus you can teach one to improve its character, but you can’t teach skill.

Haydn Fleury

2013-2014 Stats: GP: 70  G: A: 38

Position: Defense

Height: 6’3

Weight: 198

Team: Red Deer Rebels

Fleury is an excellent skater for his size. He is not afraid to join the offensive rush. He delivers a good outlet pass. He has offensive upside but should not be labeled an offensive defensemen. Has the skill set to be a shutdown defensemen. Disciplined player who is calm and composed when needed. Early in his junior career he has been assigned the hard tasks and has handled them well.

Nikolaj Ehlers

2013-2014 Stats: GP: 63  G: 49  A: 55  Pts: 104

Position: Left wing

Height: 5’11

Weight: 163

Team: Halifax Mooseheads

Ehlers is a skilled player. He has the ability to make plays at high speeds and does not shy away from going in the tough areas to make a play. He has been regarded by some as a perfect complementary player for a team. His elite hands matchup well with his speed and acceleration. He has the ability to beat some of the best defeneceman in the QJMHL 1 on 1 thanks to his speed and creativity. Despite his rather small stature, he has a powerful stride which helps him fight throw checks, hooks and holds. He will need to add some weight to be able to compete at the NHL level along with that he needs some brushing up on his defensive play.

Nick Ritchie

2013-2014 Stats: GP: 61   G: 39  A: 35  Pts: 74

Position: Right Wing

Height: 6’3

Weight: 229

Team: Peterborough Petes

Ritchie is a power forward and possibly one of the top in this class. Ritchie’s elements to the game physically make him special. Ritchie is physical and he never backs down. He is not afraid to use his size by any means and will drop the gloves if needed. He wins battles down low and protects the puck well in all zones. His powerful and accurate shot is also followed by a quick release. He can create his own shot rather than standing in the slot and waiting for the play to come to him. Good on the half wall on the power play. He back checks well and can kill penalties. He struggles with consistency, but his ups are what make him special.

Honorable mentions:

Kasperi Kapanen

Brendan Perlini

Conclusion

This years draft is very wide open. There are differences in opinions from all angles of the spectrum. Anything can happen. A trade could change everything, a sleeper could sneaks in to the top 10. A highly touted prospect can fall and that’s the beauty of the draft. Some people have been writing this draft off as weak, or at least not as deep as past years. Others disagree. The 5 players listed all high end potential to succeed. There should be some valuable players in the 15-24 ranges as well. There is a bit of a drop off in the later rounds though. Still, there will always be diamonds in the rough.

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