The Winnipeg Jets took to the ice for the fifth and final time today at their Summer Development Camp, and today had everyone on the ice at the same time for a scrimmage. Now, I was able to make it to the Iceplex today but apparently not near early enough so I was unable to get a good seat and spent most of the time standing at the back of the standing-room only section.
So, what I thought I'd do was put together a more thorough recap of the entire week and talk about the highs, lows and meh's on the roster. My apologies for this recap taking so long to come out, but I've been out of commission with an unreal chest cold this weekend and am only now beginning to feel better.
Thoughts from the week:
- Nikolaj Ehlers and Scott Kosmachuk were paired together for much of the week, and today they looked like quite the dynamic duo. In fact, they did all week, and they apparently caught the attention of Jets brass as Chevy gave the following quote (h/t to the Winnipeg Sun):
"When Ehlers scored one of the goals from Koz, or vice-versa, Zinger went to his book and said ‘ That’s going to be a line in Penticton,’ "
- Still with Ehlers and Kosmachuk, those two were the two guys that I noticed the most all week, but their play together in the scrimmage was by the far the most noticeable. Their play in tight spaces and against bigger defenders in an actual scrimmage showed that their skills in the individual drills weren't left there. Ehlers is a beauty, but Kosmachuk has really risen up the ladder from his draft position and looks like a real solid prospect.
- Oh, and how nice was this move by Ehlers (h/t to @thesawch for the video):
- Nicolas Petan and Chase De Leo, our Portand Winterhawks contingent, are small but incredibly skilled. Petan dazzled during the individual drills and De Leo excited with his bursts of speed during the week, but I was a little worried about their play during actual battle drills against bigger d-man. The talent is still very evident, but I was left wanting more, especially during the scrimmage as they had to work really hard to find open room amongst the bigger bodies. However, when they found that room they usually did something with it (as seen in the video at the bottom of this post). It will be interesting to see how they handle playing against men going forward.
- After the first four names above, the next up on my list comes Jimmy Lodge and Ryan Olsen. These two were in the next "tier" for me, as they all looked pretty solid during the week. Lodge is sneaky good and looks to do a lot of things very well, so it's a bit of a surprise to see his numbers so low in junior. Olsen is a favourite of mine for some reason, as he has always stuck to me in a good way. His ceiling may only be a bottom-six forward, but he just continues to impress with his underrated skills and work ethic.
- Axel Blomqvist and Austen Brassard are up next. Blomqvist looks a little unorthodox with his size, lanky limbs and skating stride, but he continued to make it work and made it to where he needed to make it to. Nice hands for a big guy. And Brassard, being the only pro skater on the ice during the week with Adam Lowry, J.C. Lipon and Josh Morrissey not taking part, certainly looked like it at times. He made some of the invites look like invites during the week.
- C.J. Franklin was only on the ice a few times and I didn't get a great read of him, but he scored a nice goal in the scrimmage so that's sweet. And Matt Ustaski sure looked pretty good at times for being a recent 7th-round pick. He has size but he also has some skill.
- As for the invites, the ones that stood out were Karson Kuhlman, Brendan Harms, Ben Walker and Reid Sturos. Kuhlman is likely the only guy that REALLY stood out though, as the rest all seemed to work really hard just to stay up to the guys who made it look easy. Kuhlman has speed to burn, though. It'll be interesting to keep an eye on that situation.
- Defense was a tough one, as the actual amount of players that dressed as defenders was small. With Morrissey not attending and a bunch of college guys not paying their way to come up (which makes sense), it was pretty slim watching.
- Of the guys that dressed all week, I'd say that Tucker Poolman and Marcus Karlstrom were the two guys I noticed the most. Not surprising that they were the only two Jets draft picks to dress all week. Poolman stood out to me the most.
- Jack Glover didn't dress for the first few games so it's really hard for me to grade him based solely on the scrimmage that I saw him in, but he did look pretty poised. I'm reluctant to say much more than that though as I didn't see much of him, but what I did see was pretty impressive. The other recent drafted defender, Neslon Nogier, didn't dress this week.
- Ralfs Freibergs was the most impressive invite, which isn't surprising as he 23 years old and played for Latvia in the Olympics, so with his age and pedigree he should have stood out. It's surprising to me that he's still not the property of an NHL team, though. I'd very much like to see the Jets take a chance on him. He was very good.
- Nolan Zajac, the local boy and younger brother of Travis, looked pretty solid for an invite during the individual drills. He has some clear cut skills. But his size looked to hamper him a bit during the battle drills and scrimmage. Still, he's a guy worth keeping an eye on too. If he could refine his game in college, he could be a late bloomer.
- After that, invites Shane Hanna, Kevin Lohan and Jared Hauf had their moments. Hanna is another smallish defender that looked pretty good, while both Lohan and Hauf are big guys (6'5 and 6'6, respectively) and used their size decent, but mobility wasn't a strength for either.
- Connor Hellebuyck is going to be a beast. He was the best goalie I saw all week, as he is huge but patient, never venturing out of position and looking like an effective "blocking" goalie. He is a major bright spot for the Jets going forward, and I'm very interested to see how he does this coming year in St. John's. Premium prospect.
- Eric Comrie was next. Don't let his incredibly young face deceive you, he's a quality netminder. Despite being the smallest goalie in camp at 6'1, he's fast and still covers a lot of the net. I'd expect another dominant year in junior out of him.
- Jason Kasdorf was the next one on my list, as he looked very good coming back from hip surgery. The local talent looked really good, and I expect a big year from him back in college to prove that he injury is behind him.
- Unfortunately, Juho Olkinuora and Jamie Phillips were next. Olkinoura was a guy that I was very high on when they signed him and I thought he looked great at last years camp, but this past week showed how he has slipped down the depth chart. With only one more year under contract, he'll need a big year to earn another deal. I hope he does it. As for Phillips, he looked fine but not nearly as good as the rest.