As part of TSN's countdown to the 2012 NHL Draft, TSN.ca is providing reports for all seven Canadian teams going into the big event on Friday. Our coverage continues with the Winnipeg Jets.
General Manager: Kevin Chevaldayoff
Top Draft Position: No. 9 Overall
Recent First Round Picks: C Mark Scheifele (2011), C Alexander Burmistrov (2010), C Evander Kane (2009), D Zach Bogosian (2008), C Daultan Leveille (2008), C Bryan Little (2006), LW Alex Bourret (2005).
Overview: The Jets' big splash at the 2011 draft came when the team announced its new moniker. Chevaldayoff got a huge round of applause when he announced that the Winnipeg Jets would be selecting seventh overall and then promptly took Barrie Colts centre Mark Scheifele.
Scheifele would step up immediately, pouring in four goals in five preseason tilts before making the team out of training camp. His opening stint was brief, however, as he was returned to Barrie after scoring just once in seven regular season games. He would post 63 points in 47 games with Barrie and earn a bronze medal with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
Beyond Scheifele, the team's prospect cupboard is largely dominated by pieces inherited in its move from Atlanta. The Jets have some very solid young players that have dipped their feet into NHL waters, including forward Patrice Cormier (a holdover from the Ilya Kovalchuk trade) and forward Carl Klingberg.
The rest of the recent crop of high picks from the Thrashers era are – for the most part - already key contributing members of the team. Evander Kane broke out in his third NHL season to hit the 30-goal plateau for the first time. Zach Bogosian remains a two-way threat, notching a career-high 30 points to go with his solid and often punishing defensive game.
Short Term Needs: With the ninth overall pick, the team could be well situated to add an impact defender that could be NHL-ready in the next few years. While they might miss out on the cream of the crop – players like Ryan Murray and Mathew Dumba – it is not inconceivable that a strong blue line prospect like Morgan Rielly, Griffin Reinhart, Jacob Trouba or Cody Ceci is available when the Jets take to the podium. The team's top four is strong right now with the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Bogosian, but strength on defence is something most NHL teams can never have enough of.
Long Term Needs: First and foremost, the Jets need to stock their cupboards with quality prospects. Beyond the likes of Scheifele, Cormier, Klingberg and big Russian centre Ivan Telegin, the organization's depth could use another boost. The Jets could also use another Top 6 forward to take the weight off Kane's shoulders.
Prospect Watch From Scott Cullen: Mark Scheifele was a surprise pick, then earned a spot on the Jets' opening night roster, sticking around for seven games before returning to junior, where he performed well with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. Scheifele has good size and with more strength may be ready for a full-time job with the Jets next season.
21-year-old winger Carl Klingberg had a solid, if unspectacular, first full season in North America, garnering a six-game look with the Jets. He may not have high-end offensive upside, but should develop into a steady two-way performer.
Skilled blueliner Paul Postma has 89 points in 125 AHL games over the last two season and there's little doubt that he has the puck skills to be a factor on an NHL power play. There have long been questions about whether the lanky defenceman is strong enough but, after three years in the AHL, he should get a long look with the Jets next season.
A fourth-round pick in 2010, Ivan Telegin has a chance to be a real value selection. He's tall, skilled and a good skater, so with time to fill out and get stronger, he may be able to translate his scoring in junior to the pro game in short order.
It hasn't been an easy road for Patrice Cormier, with suspensions and injuries eating into his playing time over the last three seasons, but the 22-year-old plays with an edge and fared well in a limited role in nine games with the Jets last season.
The leading scorer in St. John's last season, Spencer Machacek had a nice run late in the season with the Jets, scoring nine points with a plus-8 rating in 13 games. That would figure to give the 23-year-old a leg up on making the roster next season.
Zach Redmond is a skilled defenceman with good size and made a smooth transition to the pro game. Another year in the AHL wouldn't hurt, but Redmond could be worth a look at some point next season if the Jets have any openings.
A wrist injury cut his season short, but Adam Lowry is a winger with size, toughness and enough skill to score a point-per-game in the WHL. Another year in the Dub will give him a chance to build his offensive repertoire before he's a pro.
20-year-old Julian Melchiori is a 6-foot-4 stay-at-home defenceman who doesn't offer much offensively, but a couple of years in the AHL could give him an opportunity to develop into an NHL defenceman.
A plus-86 over the last two seasons in Tri-City, Zach Yuen was a third-round pick last summer and, while he may not have ideal size, he's a smart player who will have time to round out his game before he's ready to challenge for an NHL job.
The Jets also have prospects like defenceman Arturs Kulda, winger Jason Gregoire and goaltender Edward Pasquale, any of whom could warrant considering for a roster spot in the next couple seasons.