The Winnipeg Jets came into the 2013 NHL Draft with a lot of picks and a lot of prospect holes to fill. With 10 picks, including three in the first two rounds, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was able to add offensive skill, mobility, and a much needed boost to the goaltending depth chart. That he was also able to get offensive punch from the blue line and a spectacularly talented scorer in the second round came as particularly interesting bonuses.
With their first pick, the Jets looked west for a smooth skating defenseman with high-end offensive instincts and abilities. Morrissey has led all Prince Albert blueliners in scoring for the last two years, despite being among the team's youngest players. On a Raiders team that struggled to generate offense, Morrissey scored a respectable 47 points (15 goals and 32 assists) in 70 games.
Morrissey plays an effective two-way game, even if his work in the defensive zone needs refinement. He utilizes his speed in variety of ways to gain position, out-maneuver opponents, or recover from mistakes. Once he gains the puck, Morrissey is adept at pushing it up ice. He can skate the puck through the neutral zone or find an open teammate for a breakout pass.
Morrissey really shines in the offensive zone. From the point, he presents major problems for defenders. Morrissey uses his acceleration to capitalize on any space a defender gives him, or uses his stick work and puck-handling ability to create his own space. Morrissey can also find an opening with a crisp pass or faked shot. When he shoots, he has a hard wrist shot and a snapshot with a short, quick windup that is difficult to predict. He will play at least another year in the WHL, but should soon be ready for a shot at the NHL roster.
Hockey's Future shot video of Morrissey at the 2013 NHL Draft. You can view his extended remarks in this HF video.
Nicolas Petan, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
2nd round, 43rd Overall
Height: 5'9 Weight: 165 lbs
In the middle of the second round, the Jets again went out west and found a player with offensive firepower unrivaled by all but those at the very top part of the draft. Petan is a pure scorer, a player who helped drive the juggernaut Portland team to a WHL title and who more than tripled the output of his previous year. Portland's top line of Petan, Ty Rattie (STL) and Brendan Leipsic (NAS) finished as the WHL's top three scorers, with Leipsic and Petan tied for the league title with 120 points each. The small but deadly center scored 46 goals and 74 assists in 71 games and on many nights he was the line's offensive catalyst.
Petan possesses the type of innate offensive ability that has him always in a position to score or generate a play. No matter where he is in the offensive zone, Petan seems to have his feet properly placed and his stick readied for a tip-in, a sharpshooter's one-timer, or an agile one-touch pass to an open line mate.
As with any smaller player, Petan will have to prove that he has that special ability that can set him apart from others and help him to navigate the larger NHL players and still make an impact. Petan's instincts and hockey sense, matched with his above-average skating and explosive scoring potential, look to be special enough to get him a crack at a Jets roster in the near future.
Eric Comrie, G, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
2nd round, 59th Overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 170 lbs
Later in the second round, the Jets took their third of five players from the WHL. In Comrie, Cheveldayoff selected a player who may be the most talented netminder of his draft class, but who missed the vast majority of the season with a hip injury. He had two minor surgeries in February to correct the bone issues in each hip, and spent the rest of the season healing in rehabilitating. Playing his first season as Tri-City's starting goaltender, Comrie posted a .915 saves percentage before the dual surgeries shut him down. Comrie brings outstanding technique, quickness, and competitive intelligence to the position. In workouts prior to the draft, Comrie showed little after-effects of his surgeries, and appears to be ready for another season of major junior hockey. If he recovers and continues to develop, Comrie could become the best goaltender of the draft.
Lodge looks and plays bigger than he is. He plays an offensive game from the half-boards in, and is most effective near the net where he can use his strength, stability and his quick hands to find loose pucks and make plays. He is good on the cycle, and is a sound possession player in the corners. He uses his body well to shield the puck or push off defenders, and does the hard work to score goals. Although strong on his skates, he is not a fast player, nor does he play with a physical edge. Lodge could become, however, an excellent complementary player who can help win games by leading possession play and making the best use of the smallest openings.
J.C. Lipon, RW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
3rd round, 91st Overall
Height: 5'11 Weight: 196 lbs
NHL teams passed on Lipon in his first year of draft eligibility, so he went back to the WHL and tried again to make his case that he is worthy of a draft pick. In 61 games this season, Lipon scored 36 goals and finished the year with 89 total points and 115 penalty minutes. As tough as they come despite his 5'11 frame, Lipon was able to prove that he is more than just a tough guy, and that he is capable of carrying a team and putting the puck in the net. However, as a 19-year-old playing against mostly younger players, his point totals can be a little misleading.
Andrew Copp, C, Michigan Wolverines (CCHA)
4th round, 104th Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 187 lbs
The Jets took another overage player in the fourth round, the former US National Team player and current Wolverine Andrew Copp. With 21 points in his freshman year for Michigan, Copp fit in well on a team with several NHL prospects, including fellow Jets prospect Jacob Trouba. Although he started slow, 19 of Copp's 21 points came in the 22 games he played to close the season. He plays in the dirty areas and as a former quarterback for his high-school football team, Copp is not shy about physical play. He will be an alternate captain next year for the Wolverines.
Kostalek left his native Prague prior to his draft year after being selected 10th overall by Rimouski in the CHL's import draft. The agile defenseman scored 18 points in 48 games for the Oceanic, and also played for the Czechs at the Under-18 World Championships. He brings good skating and defensive awareness to the Jets, and although he needs to continue to cut down on mistakes and become more consistent, Kostalek looks like a solid choice in the fourth round.
Hockey's Future shot video of Copp and Kostalek at the 2013 NHL Draft. You can view their extended remarks in this HF video.
Poolman is a 20-year-old defenseman with good size. He scored 28 points in 64 USHL games last year for Omaha, and will be joining the University of North Dakota this fall (where his father has been strength and conditioning coach for over 15 years). Poolman is a project player who may be equally as likely to become a solid, two-way defenseman or a career minor-leaguer. He is solid and tough in his own end, and will have plenty of time to develop in one of college hockey's premier programs.
Brenden Kichton, D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
7th round, 190th Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 192 lbs
Kichton was passed over in his original 2010 draft class, then selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, then later released back into the 2013 draft after failing to agree to terms. The Jets used a late pick to take a chance on the 21-year-old blueliner who now has five years of WHL experience. Over the last three years with Spokane, Kichton has exhibited high-quality offensive skills with 62 goals and 178 assists in 206 games, and he has led all WHL defensemen in scoring in each of those three years. Kichton has adequate size at 6'0 and 192 pounds. His turbulent relationship with the Islanders countered his leadership and offensive prowess make Kichton an intriguing prospect. If the Jets can help him progress and reach his potential, Kichton could become the most productive late-round pick of the draft.
Marcus Karlstrom, D, AIK U20 (SuperElit)
7th round, 194th Overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 187 lbs
Four picks later, the Jets again chose a defenseman, this time from the Swedish junior leagues (the only European the Jets selected in 2013). Karlstrom led his Under-18 conference in points by a defenseman (10 goals and 22 assists in 22 games), and played five games in the Under-20 league. He is another project player who will have time to gain experience in Sweden before coming over to North America.