Best available player or reach, forward or defenseman, trade the pick or keep it— these are just some of the strategies NHL draft teams have to decide upon before the draft clock begins to wind down on them.
How will Kevin Cheveldayoff and the rest of the Jets’ organization go about their strategy come draft day? As opposed to last year, we’ll see quite a few changes on how the Jets proceed.
Last year, the Jets reached on Mark Scheifele with their first-round pick, about 10-15 spots higher than his average projection. Dale Hawerchuk and the Barrie connection to Winnipeg may have swayed Cheveldayoff’s decision. Taking Scheifele over the likes of stout rookie Sean Couturier could be costly. If Scheifele doesn’t pan out, it could prove to be a huge set back in the development of this team.
This year, the Jets should be content with drafting the best available player, preferably, the best available defenseman in the first round— a strategy or theme that should dictate the rest of their draft—especially if someone unexpected falls to them in the first round just like last year.
As far as position goes, the Jets main focus has to be on a defenseman. However, they can’t afford to stockpile defensemen throughout the entire draft and forget about their other positional needs.
The Jets have to make solid selections each round and focus on more than one position. Furthermore, the Jets should be looking to draft players that suit their organization for the long run.
Sure it's nice to have a player who can come in right away and contribute, but that's not usually the case with prospects. And in reality, that's not at all a concern for the Jets and shouldn't be a factor in any decision.
Drafting for next season isn’t the goal. Drafting for the future is. So the Jets have to be content with a player that might not be NHL ready for another three seasons. It's all apart of the rebuilding process. If keeping a prospect in the juniors better suits the player, then that decision has to be made.
One strategy that would be unfitting to the Jets would be to trade away a pick or picks. A goal that the Jets have focused on and have to continue to rely upon is the fact that building through the draft is the key ingredient to building a contender.
This seems to be the model for success for the Jets going forward because the organization has been outspoken about building from within.
The draft is a key date for many teams and has been for the Jets for quite some time. Their drafting strategy has to guarantee them the best success in the long run.