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2015 NHL Draft Prep: Winnipeg Jets Prospect Pool Analysis and Draft Needs

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As draft day approaches, positional needs become regular topics of conversation. What does the Winnipeg Jets' system need?

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

For the sake of simplicity we will look at each position within the Winnipeg Jets' far system individually. From there we will look at the depth and shining stars of each position and attempt to gauge whether or not there is a serious need to add at said position on draft day.

Again, for simplicity sake, we are not including players who are not signed. There are a handful of RFAs, who may return, but they aren't likely to play a role beyond AHL veteran at this point.

The Players

Goaltenders

Connor Hellebuyck
Eric Comrie
Jamie Phillips

Position Notes:

Heading into last year's draft, goaltending was perhaps the deepest position on the Winnipeg Jets' organizational depth chart. That has changed. Goaltending may remain a position of strength, but the graduation of Michael Hutchinson, trade of Jason Kasdorf and likely wash out of Juho Olkinuora has left the Jets a little short on numbers.

The three remaining goalies are all coming off strong seasons and the top two are legitimate high end prospects, but they are also all in the same age range, so the Jets may run into an issue down the road.

Is there a need here?

Yes. There is likely a need in net. Goalie prospects generally take 4-6 years post draft before they get a sniff of NHL action, the Jets could us a prospect or two for this window.

Right Wing

Nikolaj Ehlers
Joel Armia
Scott Kosmachuk
Jimmy Lodge
J.C. Lipon
Axel Blomqvist
Austen Brassard

Position Notes:

Many categorize Nikolaj Ehlers are a left wing prospect, and while he does shoot left, he has played primarily on the right for a couple seasons now. Nobody really knows where he will play at the next level, but I'm calling him a right wing for now.

Ehlers is obviously the crown jewel of the Winnipeg Jets system, but he isn't the only right wing of merit. The recently acquired Joel Armia could push for a roster spot as soon as this year. Scott Kosmachuk and Jimmy Lodge both have the skill to make the jump, but they are a ways away at this point. Lipon and Blomqvist are longer shots, but they aren't poor prospects. Brassard has struggled to earn ice time in the AHL. Odds are he is close to done as an NHL prospect.

Is there a need here?

If Ehlers stays on the right wing, it would be in the mix for the Jets deepest position. Boasting two players that have shown legint top six upside and a couple more who could fight their way into an NHL lineup, right wing isn't really a need.

Left Wing

Brendan Lemieux
Ivan Telegin
Clinston Franklin
Matt Ustaski

Positional Notes:

There isn't much here. Obviously, left wing would look a lot better with Nikolaj Ehlers at the top of the positional list, but it is pretty bare without him. Lemieux is a solid prospect, but he likely projects as a depth or role player. Telegin may never return to North America. Franklin is coming off a pretty solid year, but he is a long shot and Ustaski is a fringe prospect at best.

Is there a need here?

Hells to the yes! The left wing position of the Jets' system definitely needs work.

Centre

Nic Petan
Andrew Copp
Chase De Leo
Pavel Kraskovsky
Ryan Olsen

Positional Analysis:

The graduation of Adam Lowry along with the washout of players like Eric O'Dell and Patrice Cormier have removed a lot of depth from the prospect pool at centre. That said, the remaining talent is of high quality. Nic Petan remains a top flight prospect who has produced at an elite rate.

Andrew Copp is a smart, savvy and athletic two way forward. At this point he is a likely NHLer, when he makes the leap and in what capacity is unknown, but he could make the jump as soon as this year.

Chase De Leo has just finished a productive WHL career and is ready to go pro. Kraskovsky is young, but his two-way game earned rave reviews in last years CHL Subway Series.

Ryan Olsen struggled in his first year as a pro. He will need to step it up if he wants to have a future in the NHL.

Is there a need here?

Always yes. A team can never have too many quality centres in their system. If at some point there is a log jam of prospects, centres can always be moved to the wing. More centres please!

Defense

Josh Morrissey
Jan Kostalek
Jack Glover
Brenden Kichton
Nelson Nogier
Tucker Poolman
Marcus Karlstrom
Brennan Serville
Aaron Harstaad
Peter Stoykewych

Positional Analyisis:

Josh Morrissey is easily the best defender in the Winnipeg Jets system. He is a cerebral player and he moves extremely well. A year ago Morrissey looked like a safe bet to make the Jets. He didn't an there likely isn't room at the start of the year.

The drop off after Morrissey is substantial with Jan Kostalek second on the list. Kostalek does everything well, but likely doesn't have any one skill that could push him into top pair territory.

Jack Glover was a mid round pick, who is thought to have solid upside, but he didn't do much as an NCAA freshman.

Brenden Kichton scored at an impressive rate as a rookie, but he wasn't able to replicate it in year two. He already had the look of a player who's roll was likely to be all offense - the down year raised more question marks.

None of the remaining players are what I'd consider to be noteworthy prospects.

Is there a need here?

You betcha. The Jets have one defender in the system that projects as an impact NHLer and one more (Kostalek) that looks to have a real shot. The need on defense is great. Will that be enough to pull the Jets away from a "best player available" strategy.

Summary

The Winnipeg Jets system does feature a number of solid prospects, but there isn't an abundance of depth at any one position. They need far more depth in net, on defense and on the left wing.  The need at centre is ever-present. Right wing is probably the deepest position.

Is there a specific position you see the Jets needing to pursue or should they simply stick to the best player available? Should they avoid the right wing? Share your thoughts below.