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Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25: Honourable Mentions

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Arctic Ice Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 is an annual look at the future of the Winnipeg Jets. A list and ranking of the best players under the age of 25 gives a great idea of what is to come. The criteria for the rankings were not pre-set. Every author compiled their own list based on their own criteria. These are the results.

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It's become an annual tradition, not to mention a point of pride for the Winnipeg Jets fan base and organization alike: continuing improvement of both the prospect pool's quantity and quality.

This is reflected in Arctic Ice Hockey's yearly Top 25 Under 25 series, when solid players with plenty of potential are squeezed out of the space-limited list. Here are the three prospects who just missed the 2016 cut:

Jan Kostalek

Rank

DOB

Acquired

Pos

Avg

Min

Max

HM

1995/02/17

#114, 2013

D

28.33

18

35

Previous Rank: 18th

Stats

AIH Authors' Thoughts

Truck

Jan's final year of Junior hockey was terrific. His transition to pro was not so smooth. His simple, smart game didn't translate against bigger, stronger opponents. Will he catch up? Not sure.

Arby:

Kostalek had a rough rookie season last year on a terrible Moose team, and sadly he was part of the blueline that was very likely to blame. Obviously it was his first season as a pro, but the team struggled mightily to move the puck from the back-end, and that's concerning as he was a point-producer in the Q who was likely counted on to be so again. He'll need a bounce-back season as a sophomore before he moves up my list.

Andy:

His first year as a Manitoba Moose, Kostalek struggled.  In 52 games, he put up 1 goal and 8 assists, while being a -18. The year prior with Rimouski of the QMJHL, Kostalek lit the lamp 7 times while contributing with 36 assists and sporting a +55 plus/minus. Quite the drop off.  Here's to hoping Kostalek can turn it around and use last year's experience to this year's advantage.

Brian:

After an underwhelming AHL debut, Kostalek looks to rekindle his game to where it was in the 'Q'. It's likely that he'll improve because his surrounding team will as well. I think he's the (other) RHD prospect Jets fans really need to know, because they'll be gunning for NHL spots soon. Give Kostalek two more years and we should see him in action. As for the other defenceman? Well I'll see you tomorrow.

Erik Foley

Rank

DOB

Acquired

Pos

Avg

Min

Max

HM

1997/06/30

#78, 2015

LW

28.50

20

32

Previous Rank: 24th

Stats

AIH Authors' Thoughts

Truck:

Foley is a fierce competitor who plays a game that coaches love. He digs in corners and wins pucks. He does not have top-end skills, and this will likely limit him, but he plays a pro-style game.

Arby:

There's been some good talk about Foley impressing at this past WJHC Team USA summer camp, so that's fun. If he makes that team and does well this winter, then we can talk about boosting his ranking, but until then he strikes me as just another winger in a system full of them.

Andy:

Foley had some great chemistry starting with fellow Jets prospect Jack Roslovic at the most recent prospect camp, along with the Team USA camp.  Foley has to do something, as he's buried among the rest of the wingers in the organization.

Ian:

This summer, Erik Foley seemed to have appeared out of nowhere on USA Hockey's radar. I saw multiple mentions of him on Twitter regarding how he looked at camp which has really piqued my interest in him. Perhaps this is a sign that he was a sleeper pick?

Brian:

I still don't know where I am with Foley. I didn't like the pick when he was drafted, but he appears to be shutting me up. Looking to secure a spot on the World Juniors for Team USA, it'll be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. The biggest concern long-term for Foley at the NHL level is the insane LW depth ahead of him. I could see him used as a trade chip in acquiring some young LHD depth.

Sami Niku

Rank

DOB

Acquired

Pos

Avg

Min

Max

HM

1996/10/10

#198, 2015

D

29.25

17

39

Previous Rank: 25th

Stats

AIH Authors' Thoughts

Truck:

Skating, smarts and experience playing against men. There is a lot to like about Niku. He is the kind of prospect that teams hope will simmer overseas and join their team fully developed. Given the Jets lack of system depth on D, I'd say Niku holds more value than this ranking.

Arby:

There's plenty of hope for Niku to turn out, as he's one of the very few left-handed d-men in the pipe, and early indications are promising. But he's a long way out at this point, and as a 7th-round flyer there isn't much else to do than hope he turns out somewhat.

Andy:

If the Jets ever had a sleeper pick on their hands, Niku could be it. Strong low center of gravity, great hockey smarts and plays a safe defensive game, Niku could find himself on the Jets down the road, as long as he commits himself to improving his upper-body strength, skating and shot.

Brian:

I like this kid. I really do. I think he's the late round pick we've been waiting for. Our Tobias Enstrom if you will. The comparison has been beaten to death, but if Niku gets anywhere close to Enstrom, the Jets made a great choice.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we begin our 2016 Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25 journey. But what are your thoughts on the names above? Are there any surprises? Did you have any of them ranked significantly higher than the honourable mention category? Share your reactions in the comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!