2015 NHL Draft: Winnipeg Jets draft review

By Patrick Allen

 

Mason Appleton - Winnipeg Jets - 2015 NHL Draft

Photo: The Winnipeg Jets sixth round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, forward Mason Appleton of the Tri-City Storm, was one of four USHL players chosen by the Jets in that draft (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

 

 

 

Erik Foley, LW, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
3rd round, 78th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 185

Despite being a modest 5’11 Erik Foley doesn’t let his size stand in the way of playing an agitating and relentless style of hockey.  

“I like to think I am a power forward, I like to use my speed and my strength, win pucks in the corners, but I can mix in some skill with that, I can put pucks in the net,” said Foley.

Foley has been able to make up for his lack of ideal size with his lead by example work ethic; one NHL scout went as far to suggest that if he weren’t a hockey player he would be leading a Navy Seal team.

Next season Foley will be playing at Providence College, where he looks forward to playing under coach Nate Leaman, and helping the Friars defend their 2015 NCAA Tournament Championship.

Foley spoke with the media at the NHL Draft after he was chosen by the Jets, with some of that conversation being captured in this HF video.

Michael Spacek, C, Pardubice HC (Czech Republic)
4th round, 108th overall
Height: 5-11 Weight: 187

Spacek is a 5’11 Center from the Czech Republic. Coming into the draft Spacek was rated #75 by ISS and #5 by NHL Central Scouting for European skaters.

Last year he played for HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech league and also represented his country at the 2015 World Juniors in Montreal and Toronto, Canada. While with the men’s team, the teenager put up a respectable 12 points in 40 games. Spacek is a player whose skating and skill has gotten him to the professional level, but who needs more strength and determination to make the next step.

Spacek will need to continue developing his overall game in the Czech Extraliga before being ready to try and make the jump to North America, but the talent is there to make this a reasonable upside pick.

Mason Appleton, C, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
6th round, 168th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 193

The Jets continued the trend of drafting college-bound players out of the USHL with this pick. Wisconsin native Mason Appleton was in his second year of eligibility, but could develop into a solid depth center for the organization. Appleton had 40 points in 54 games last season playing for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.

Falling below a point-per-game as a 19-year-old definitely means that Appleton will need to continue improving the offensive side to his game if he wants to have any chance at an NHL career. He is committed to play for Michigan State next year, and should find the extra year of junior development helpful in his transition.

Sami Niku, D, JYP (Finland)
7th round, 198th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 176

Surprisingly, Niku was the only defenseman selected by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. A native of Finland, Niku split his time last year between JYP-Akatemia of the Mestis league and JYP of the Liiga. He also represented Team Finland at the 2015 World Juniors.

Niku fell a bit farther in the draft that most had originally thought. Projected to be either a 5th or 6th round pick by some and ranked #71 by ISS, the Jets snagging him in the seventh round could prove to be a very beneficial late round pickup for the organization.

Niku is a player whose ability to read play is highly-regarded by scouts. He brings high-level passing and skating and, though he needs to bulk up, should be productive in a larger role with JYP next season.

Matteo Gennaro, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
7th round, 203rd overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 187

In his second year playing for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL, Matteo Gennaro registered 31 points in 72 games, double his total from his rookie campaign. The Jets will definitely be looking for Gennaro to increase his point totals next year in Prince Albert and continue to develop an offensive game to go along with his above average size and strong skating abilities. If he can tap into some of the opportunistic scoring of his cousin, former Edmonton Oiler playoff hero Fernando Pisani, Gennaro could be a huge steal.

It is worth noting that Prince Albert struggled last season and that Gennaro was in the team’s top ten scorers. With Gennaro among others continuing a positive development course, the team should improve. He represents a decent depth pick, a player who has several tools and could yet find a way to combine them all in an effective way.

Follow Patrick Allen on Twitter via @HFPatrick

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