Scott Kosmachuk is coming off a monster season after his 4th year with the Guelph Storm, and has to figure strongly on the radar of the Winnipeg Jets' management heading into next season.
When the Jets drafted Scott Kosmachuk in the third round of the 2012 draft, the young winger from Toronto was coming off a 30 goal year in his second campaign with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. Kosmachuk had 80 points in his OHL career up to that point, but the Jets gave the right-handed winger a shot with the 70th overall pick.
His third year in Guelph saw small improvements, but nothing too exciting as most players do get better with age in junior hockey. Kosmachuk put up 35 goals to go with 30 assists in 68 games, posting another goal in the post-season.
It was his most recent season that Kosmachuk exploded offensively, and it started in September. Kosmachuk was invited to participate with the Jets in the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic, and put up 3 goals in the 3 game tournament. He was returned to the Storm, putting up 12 goals and 12 assists in October alone. Playing right wing on Guelph's top line, Kosmachuk's play earned him an appearance in the Subway Super Series for Team OHL against Russia, featuring in a 5-2 loss. The Jets saw how well Kosmachuk was playing, and signed him to an entry-level contract on December 19.
The top line right winger would finish the season with 49 goals and 52 points while playing in every Storm game. Kosmachuk only missed one game in his 4 seasons with Guelph, which bodes well for his durability moving forward with the Jets.
Kosmachuk's play helped lead the Storm to the top seed in Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League after the regular season, and they would progress out of the first round for the first time in Kosmachuk's career. In fact, Guelph would win every series in the OHL Playoffs, taking just 20 games to hoist the Robertson Cup as OHL Champs. Kosmachuk scored 28 points for the Storm during the playoffs, finishing 4th on the team in playoff scoring as the Storm looked like favourites to win the Memorial Cup. Guelph would advance to the Memorial Cup final, with Kosmachuk getting 5 points in 4 games, but the Edmonton Oil Kings would take the title by beating Guelph 6-3.
SO NOW WHAT?
I'm glad you asked! Kosmachuk turned 20 in January, meaning it's highly likely his career in Guelph is over after 246 regular season points and 35 playoff points. He also had 15 fights, and is noted for his physical agitating play on the ice.
Kosmachuk has the benefit of being in an organization that is weak in winger depth. The bottom 6 of the Jets last year was devoid of true scoring talent, with Matt Halischuk leading the way with 5 goals. While it's easy to beat out offensive juggernauts like James Wright, I still find it unlikely that Kosmachuk makes the jump straight from the O to the NHL.
Instead, he is more likely to end up on the farm with the St. John's IceCaps where he can continue to develop his game, but after the year he has had he should be given every opportunity to land himself a spot on the big club. With Eric O`Dell proving his skills with the IceCaps this year, Josh Morrissey rounding into a pro, and Nicolas Petan having a dominant year with Portland, the 2014-2015 Winnipeg Jets could see an influx of youth to their ranks. Kosmachuk's fellow 2012 draft pick Connor Hellebuyck, as well as Michael Hutchinson, offers skilled youth netminders to compliment their fellow prospects.
What will be important to watch is how Coach Paul Maurice chooses to use his youth, and how the Jets behave when free agency opens this summer. A lack of big moves could indicate that the team is indeed going to lean more towards their youth to carry the load in the depth positions for the team.