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Draft Preview: Winnipeg Jets – Bringing in the harvest

The bounty has been deep and plentiful in Winnipeg’s methodic farm system.

The Jets spent years amassing first-round picks and building an elite farm system. They’ve matured into a contender, with many of their former prospects making up the core of a star-studded roster and some young pieces becoming trade fodder. Brendan Lemieux was part of the deadline-day deal that netted Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers. The Jets also traded away their first-round pick for a second straight year. Suddenly, their prospect depth is starting to dwindle, so GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his scouting staff will have to get creative mining for late-round gems.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: The Jets could lose their UFA rental center for a second straight summer. Paul Stastny walked last year, and Hayes might this year. If they re-sign Hayes or land another UFA pivot, it’ll only cost money this time rather than a pick and prospect.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: Big Dustin Byfuglien is 34, Tyler Myers goes UFA, and the Jets might have another contentious negotiation with RFA Jacob Trouba. It would be prudent to insure the blueline with another effective veteran. The 2019 UFA class isn’t rich with high-quality D-men, though lefty Jake Gardiner would fit.

CAP SITUATION: Cheveldayoff has the Trouba headache to figure out; must sign RFA Patrik Laine after a season in which he slipped to 30 goals; and strike a deal with breakout scorer RFA Kyle Connor. Additional RFAs include Joe Morrow, Nathan Beaulieu and Andrew Copp. The UFAs include Brandon Tanev and Ben Chiarot on top of Hayes and Myers. Will there be money left after these deals are done? It’s likely the gritty Tanev has priced himself out of town after busting out for 14 goals.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: After sniper Kristian Vesalainen’s KHL season ended, he returned to the AHL in March. A strong camp could make him a Jet on opening night next fall. His offense his NHL-ready, but his defense needs work.

DID YOU KNOW: Goalie prospect Mikhail Berdin scored a goal in a 2017 USHL game. He then celebrated skater-style, cruising past the bench to high-five teammates.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Tobias Enstrom, 239th, ’03
Connor Hellebuyck, 130th, ’12
Adam Lowry, 67th, ’11
Andrew Copp, 104th, ’13
Ben Chiarot, 120th, ’09
Darcy Hordichuk, 180th, ’00
Patrick Dwyer, 116th, ’02
Paul Postma, 205th, ’07
Pasi Nurminen, 189th, ’01
Zach Redmond, 184th, ’08

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 118
100+ NHL GAMES: 10
PERCENT SUCCESS: 8.5%
NHL RANK: 28th

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