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AIH Mailbag: Let’s talk about the Winnipeg Jets’ 2017 NHL Entry Draft

We revive our weekly mailbag feature to answer your questions on the draft.

2016 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Media Availability Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images

Hey, all! Welcome back to the Arctic Ice Hockey Mailbag! This will be a regular feature on the site, covering any questions you may have pertaining to the Winnipeg Jets. In order to kick your work week off right, join us each and every Monday for the publication of your questions and comments on the team.

In this week’s edition, we talk all about the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

If you want to submit your questions or comments for next week's mailbag, you can tweet or direct message us on Twitter @arcticicehockey, use the hashtag #AIHMailbag, or email us at


I will preface my response with these two statements: Firstly, I don’t purport to be an expert when discussing potential NHL prospects. Secondly, you’re going to hate my analysis and I’m sure that the first half of it will contradict the second half.

It should also be noted that this is a pretty loaded question; in fact it’s several questions rolled into one, so kudos for making me do a lot of leg work on this, Jimmy.

By my estimation, there are ten (10) players with potential first round grades that I see the Jets having the opportunity to draft. These players either fit a team need (whether perceived or real), are exceptionally skilled, or fit the mold of players taken in previous drafts. Clearly, I could be dead wrong on all of these players; some may be selected prior to Winnipeg’s pick and others may having a low first round grade. But for the sake of being thorough - this is for you, Jimmy - I’m trying to cut with a large swath in order to increase my odds. I should also note is that I will be running individual articles on each of these prospects starting in June to give you a more comprehensive review of their traits, skills, as well as my fleshed out thoughts.

Here are the ten potential picks in order of ISS Rank - I used ISS because they don’t segregate North American and European talent.

TJ’s 2017 NHL Entry Draft Targets

Owen Tippett RW Mississauga (OHL) 4
Cody Glass C Portland (WHL) 6
Cale Makar RHD Brooks (AJHL) 10
Nick Suzuki C Owen Sound (OHL) 11
Callan Foote RHD Kelowna (WHL) 12
Juuso Valimaki LHD Tri-City (WHL) 14
Eeli Tolvanen LW Sioux City (USHL) 17
Nicolas Hague LHD Mississauga (OHL) 18
Elias Pettersson C Timra (SWE AL) 20
Kailer Yamamoto RW Spokane (WHL) 26

As you can see, my list contains a smattering of players from various positions groups, some of which I like, some of which I think the Jets might like more than other teams. Of this list, I would be very happy with Cody Glass, Cale Makar, Nick Suzuki, or Elias Pettersson. My favorite of this list would be defenseman Juuso Valimaki. I’m weary of the Jets taking another winger (sorry, Owen Tippett and Eeli Tolvanen) and I’m not high on a defenseman such as Callan Foote. Others I have listed could be seen as a reach at the thirteenth pick (sorry, Kailer Yamamoto). I certainly will provide more detail on each of these players in my individual write-ups, so be sure to look out for that in June.

To answer this question, and to piggyback a bit on Jimmy’s previous question, let’s go back to a tweet of mine from March:

I don’t want to steal all of future TJ’s thunder (you’re welcome, future TJ) so I won’t use up all of my best material in the mailbag. I hope you understand that I’m a small, petty man that possesses very little creative ability and I need to keep the content train going. The joy’s of being a hack blogger know no bounds.

There are three things that I love about Valimaki. First, he fits a need that many Jets fans excluding myself have been shouting into the echo chamber for years: LEFT. HANDED. DEFENSEMAN! The fact his preference is to play left handed launches him all the way up the draft board and we haven’t even looked at his skill set. Secondly, outside of Cale Makar who played his season in the AJHL, no defenseman in this draft scored more goals than Valimaki’s nineteen. Lastly, he’s 6’2” and 201 pounds. In summation, he fits a perceived position of need, has skill, and is of prototypical NHL size. Check. check. Triple check. If I’m Kevin Cheveldayoff (spoiler: I’m not) and Valimaki is still on the board at the thirteenth selection, I throw on my Puma’s and Usain Bolt my way to the podium. Once there, I boisterously announce “Out of Tri-City of the WHL, Juuso Valimaki.”, drop the mic and start the party. Keep it short and sweet; concise and to the point.

So to answer your question, yes, I love me some Valimaki.

Thank you to all who participated in our first week of the revival of the AIH Mailbag. Articles will run each Monday so feel free to send us your questions throughout the week.