Winnipeg has brought some considerable talent to Penticton over the past couple of seasons with the likes of Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor being the most prominent. The Jet's Young Stars roster has been a reflection of the organization's deep talent pool of first and second round picks. This year's edition is a little bit different!
This version of the Jets sees Jansen Harkins, Logan Stanley, and Michael Spacek returning to lead a group of mid to late round draft picks, free agent signings and camp invitees. This does not mean that the team on the ice will not be talented and competitive, but that they are reaching a point where their highest rated prospects are graduating to the professional ranks.
Logan Stanley: The behemoth defenseman stands 6'7" and was drafted 18th overall in the 2016 entry draft. Stanley is a mountain of a man who plays hard, using his 239 pound frame to keep the front of the net clear for the goaltender. He had his season shortened by a torn meniscus but still managed to surpass his draft season total in points. Expect Stanley to play big minutes in the Okanagan against each team's best line.
Michael Spacek: Drafted in the fourth round, Spacek was seen as a player with the hands and hockey IQ to play at the NHL level. The consensus on Spacek was that a combination of inconsistency and being bit small (5'11") for an NHL Center dropped him from potentially being drafted higher. Last season Spacek put up a 30 goal campaign with 55 assists and was the Red Deer Rebel's leading scorer. Given his strong '16-'17 performance, the Czech Center has established himself as a legitimate Top Prospect for the Jets and should be a real treat to watch for many years to come!
Jansen Harkins: The leading scorer for the Prince George Cougars is seen as a hard working 2-way forward. Harkins was drafted 47th overall in 2016, and has done everything he can to demonstrate that his name deserves to be brought up as a top prospect. He will be surrounded by familiar faces in Penticton as team mate Kody McDonald and former team mate Jordy Stallard will be on the Jets' roster.
Luke Green: A right handed defensman who knows how to generate offense. That's a great way to summarize what the Jets have in Luke Green. in 60 games in the QMJHL (Saint John/Sherbrooke) Green had 37 points. These numbers are not staggering, but when watching how the Bedford, NS handles the puck it becomes apparent that he can control the pace in the offensive zone. The greatest room for improvement for Green lies in his own end which can continue to be worked on with the Manitoba Moose until the Jets deem him ready for the big leagues.
Mikhail Berdin: It is a great sign for an NHL team to have their prized player from another continent decide to come to North America to start their path to the NHL. Berdin chose to play in the USHL over another season in the Russian MHL to get better prepared for a future in North American hockey. A decently sized netminder at 6'2", Berdin plays net in a conventional butterfly style but is not afraid to channel his inner Hasek and do anything he can to prevent the opposition from scoring. His 14-12-3 record might be a bit deceiving, but his .925 save percentage should tell you that he is completely comfortable facing a lot of pucks when he's on duty!
Late Round Steal:
Skyler McKenzie: Taken 198th overall, the Sherwood Park, AB native is small in stature but big in offensive potential. McKenzie amassed 42 goals and 42 assists while playing in all 72 regular season games for the Portland Winterhawks last season. With the NHL being more forgiving to players who are below the six foot mark, drafting a smaller player with a knack for offense could reap huge rewards for the Jets down the road.
Intriguing Camp Invite
Tyler Boland: As an overage player, Boland eclipsed the 100 point plateau (48g-55a-103p) with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior League. He led his team in scoring by 27 points which indicates that most of the team's offense was generated while he was on the ice. Boland will seeking a professional contract and should be expected to be a bright spot for the Jets this weekend!
The full Jets lineup can be found here.