I always enjoy taking a sneak peek at the future of the Winnipeg Jets. It brings optimism, hope, and a sense that the franchise is actually going somewhere.
And for the first time in the entire franchise's history – Atlanta and Winnipeg – the team actually knows how to draft quality players who will be in the lineup and not playing in the ECHL (remember Daultan Leveille or Alex Bourret anyone?).
There are four Winnipeg Jets prospects on their respective countries rosters coming up for the World Juniors in Sweden and it is very exciting to see what they offer their country with their skills.
Joshua Morrissey – Defense – Canada
Josh Morrissey was another head scratcher of a pick by Kevin Cheveldayoff at the draft – the third first rounder in a row that had the "experts" confused and shocked that the Jets took a player that was ranked much lower.
But Morrissey deserves to have the 13th overall pick in 2013 tag. The now captain of the Prince Albert Raiders, Morrissey has been on fire with 35 points in 28 games to start his third full season in the WHL – all with the Raiders.
Morrissey moves the puck well from the back end and many Jets fans were able to see just how effective he can be from the blueline during the pre-season (as he was really the only Jet beside Trouba that was willing to give fans a good show in the pre-season).
With bigger names like Matthew Dumba (who's already NHL tested), future top pick Aaron Eklad, 2013 returnee Griffin Reinhart, and Penguin pick Derrick Pouliot on the Canadian blueline as well, look for Morrissey to slip in the back and make plays that many don't see coming.
Canada's blueline is deep and it is good. It is time to see if Morrissey can outshine even the biggest names in his own defensive corps.
Nicolas Petan – Centre – Canada
The possible steal of the draft in round two, Nic Petan is once again tearing up the WHL.
In his third full WHL season, Petan has 66 points in only 32 games. Last season he has 120 points in 71 games before adding 28 points in 21 playoff games.
Petan may be undersized at 5'9, but he plays well above his height. His development has been strong, fast, and ever continuing to improve.
The Jets 43rd overall pick will be looked to make offense with the likes of Jonathan Drouin, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Bo Horvat – all fellow first round picks in 2013.
Jets fans are well aware of Petan's speed, quick release, and hockey smarts and I promise they will probably drool more over him playing for Canada at the World Juniors than for Mark Scheifele (like watching paint dry there). Have fun with this speedy centre.
Andrew Copp – Centre – United States
The Jets fourth round selection in this past spring's draft is a point-per-game player in his second full season playing at the University of Michigan. Probably a late dark horse pick for the Jets, Copp was taken 104th overall before the likes of highly touted prospects Ryan Fitzgerald – taken by the Bruins 120th overall (15 points in 16 games with Boston College this year) and Jordan Subban – taken by the Vancouver Canucks 115th overall (22 points in 30 games for the Belleville Bulls in the OHL this year).
At 6'0, 188 pounds, Copp is not an opposing figure when it comes to size at the centre position, but scouts like his leadership skills having been named an alternate captain for U of Michigan this season and also being a very athletic player – also playing his fair share of football as a quarterback.
It doesn't hurt either that him and Jacob Trouba are best friends. Last season, both played together at Michigan and Copp had a slow start as a walk-on to the team and finished with a torrid 19 points in is final 22 games to finish his rookie season with 21 points in 38 games – seventh on the team.
Copp draws into an American lineup that includes the likes of Fitzgerald, Stefan Matteau, Adam Earne, and Ryan Hartman – a real gritty group that really defines the American teams over the past years of World Junior competition. Copp could be called upon to play a big role just as he is doing with Michigan. Look for Copp to become much better acquainted with Jets fans this Christmas season.
Jan Kostalek – Defense – Czech Republic
Jan Kostalek is not the most well known draft pick in the Jets pile of defense prospects, but he has made enough noise with his defensive game this year in QMJHL to make the Czech World Junior team.
The lanky 6'1 Kostalek has already reached his point totals from last season in Rimouski (18 points) in only 30 games – one goal, seventeen assists – despite having a -2 rating versus a +17 rating from last season.
Kostalek is on the top defensive pairing for the Oceanic and was also part of the Czech World Junior team in 2013. He has taken part in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and has mixed reviews on his upside as a potential NHL player in the future.
For the amount of defensemen in the Jets system, don't figure for Kostalek to become Jacob Trouba status anytime in the next three to four years. If he sticks in North America, he will likely be taking the longer route to the NHL if he can get there.
But for now, watch the lanky defenseman, who does have good puck moving ability, and see what you think.