The regular season has started so we will take a look at how our potential future Winnipeg Jets have fared in the Canadian Hockey League for the month of October.
2013 1st Round: LD Joshua Morrissey; 13 GP, 5G, 7A, 12 PTS, +4, 16 PIM
After struggling initially with only five points in eight games, the mobile defender posted six points in the next four and earned himself the WHL's player of the week award. While it is too early to compare production from previous seasons, Morrissey marks the start of a trend for many of the Jets CHL prospects this year who have suffered reduced scoring rates. While goal differentials are heavily flawed, the Raider's goal% improves by an impressive 30% with Morrissey on the ice versus being on the bench.
It would not be surprising if Morrissey struggled to repeat his extremely impressive numbers from the year prior, especially given the Raiders loss of their star centre, Leon Draisaitl. Also, being involved in 30% of a team's point production and placing second in goals per game two years in a row is a fairly high expectation for even elite defensemen.
2013 2nd Round: C Nicolas Petan; 12 GP, 1G, 12A, 13 PTS, +1, 4 PIM
Petan's point production has declined as well. Usually a 1.1 point per game production would be fairly respectable, but expectations tend to skew perspective. The young centre's point production drop seems to be predominantly goal oriented. Given Petan's high assist production, it would not be unreasonable to assume a deflated shooting percentage and expect his numbers to receive a large boost as they regresses back to the norm.
Petan earned an Entry Level Contract last winter and will be looking to refine his game for the Winterhawks and Team Canada World Junior squad in his final junior season.
2013 2nd Round: G Eric Comrie; 13 GP, 409 SA, SV% 0.914
Junior hockey can be weird. In 13 games played, Comrie accumulated two wins while posting a save percentages under 0.860 and two loses with save percentage over 0.920. Comrie started off strong, but has struggled in his last two games. The netminder currently sits in seventh in the WHL for save percentage.
With a contract already in hand, Comrie will be looking at helping his team and possibly pushing for a spot on Team Canada before turning pro this summer.
2013 3rd Round: RW/C Jimmy Lodge; 13 GP, 9G, 3A, 12 PTS, +0, 6 PIM
Lodge has struggled to repeat the success of his draft season, although things are starting to improve. He has hit quite the hot streak, and currently leads the Saginaw Spirit in goals scored. His goal to assist ratio does raise some flags; is he running on a high shooting percentage or have his linemates been unsuccessful in finishing Lodge's passes and rebounds?
Lodge holds lots of promise with his vision, IQ, and other tools, but will need to put it all together this season if he's to earn a contract. His coach praised him earlier for much improved defensive play, which should help his case if he's able to continue. The Jets' organization could use a lot more offensively capable prospects.
2013 4th Round: RD Jan Kostalek; 17 GP, 3G, 7A, 10 PTS, +14, 4 PIM
While not known as an offensive defenseman, Kostalek still sits in the QMJHL's top 20 for defensive points. Only first round pick Samuel Morin has produced more defensive shots per game for Rimouski, which is promising for sustained success.
Kostalek, like Jimmy Lodge, is a 2013 draft pick looking for a contract in their final junior season. Brenden Kichton is the only current Jets prospect that is both a right shot defender and signed to the IceCaps. There should be room for Kostalek next year.
2013 UFA: RW Axel Blomqvist; 13 GP, 7 G, 9A, 16 PTS, +3, 6 PIM
Axel Blomqvist's numbers have always been pretty good for a undrafted prospect, but so far this season he's been pacing over a point per game. Blomqvist currently places third in even strength goal differential and third in points per game for the Victoria Royals.
Blomqvist already signed an Entry Level Contract and will be finishing his final year of junior eligibility.
2014 1st Round: LW/RW Nikolaj Ehlers; 11 GP, 5G, 9A, 14 PTS, -6, 20 PIM
Ehlers is leading his team in points per game, but - like Petan - is realizing the effects of playing on a severely weaker team than the year prior. The last season the Mooseheads had five regular players over a point per game and only one regular with a negative even strength goal differential. This season though only two are over a point per game and only three players have a positive even strength goal differential.
Ehlers has two seasons left of junior eligibility, although he will be looking to add strength and making some noise at Jets camp next season.
2013 4th Round: LW/C Chase De Leo; 17 GP, 10G, 12A, 22 PTS, +5, 6 PIM
De Leo is showing great value for a fourth round pick. With players like Petan, De Leo and JC Lipon he Jets are hoping to follow the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have found value with mid-round, "undersized" scorers. De Leo currently leads the Winterhawks in points per game. Last season De Leo played as the Winterhawks second line centre - behind Petan - but has been moved up to Petan's wing thus far.
Due to his birthdate, this marks De Leo's final eligible junior season unless he plays as an over-age. This means that De Leo, Lodge, and Kostalek are all hoping to go pro for the Jets, joining Morrissey, Petan, Comrie, and any other possible NCAA graduates. This may create a bottle necking and force some serious competition for ELCs, as there are only so many contracts to go around.
2013 4th Round: RD Nelson Nogier; 14 GP, 1G, 2A, 3 PTS, -14, 12 PIM
It is unfortunate that the CHL does not have the depth of statistical data that is available in the NHL. Nogier is known as a defensive defenseman who can also push the play forward, but there is no underlying metrics to determine how he is performing statistically outside of points and the very unreliable goal differentials. However, we do know that the Blade are an analytically minded organization. It is hard to imagine that Nogier would be logging big ice if he wasn't performing.
Still, there concerns how much his success will translate. Three points is extremely low and even top level shutdown defensemen like Marc-Edouard Vlassic and Dan Hamhuis were decent scorers in junior.