Building from within is a theme for the Winnipeg Jets organization.
The Jets are not an organization that will go out and sign the best free agents available. They're not a team that will trade their entire core away for a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent during the deadline. They're a team that builds through the draft and every round of it.
While teams are looking to fill out their prospect pool in the latter rounds, the Jets are looking for the next best NHLer. The Jets don't have many household prospects in their system, and outside of two or three, you probably haven't heard of some of them.
You can bet that the Jets' scouts and draft team know what they're doing, however. And soon enough, the Jets will get recognition for the talent they find.
My latest edition of the Jets' top 10 prospects saw a few players skyrocket towards the top, while others have started to fall. First up, number 10.
Number 10 is always a tough choice. There are a few prospects I could have slotted here, but I’m going with Jets prospect and Tri-City Americans defenseman, Zachary Yuen.
Yuen was a fourth-round draft pick in 2011. He's spent five years in the WHL with the Americans and has really been an impressive piece to their organization.
Yuen isn’t known for his offensive capabilities, but he’s a mainstay on defense. He’s a solid defenseman, he's never out of position and he always has his head in the game. Sometime down the line an opportunity will arise.
Patrice Cormier is still on my list, even though I could have kept him on the outside looking in. He’s gotten a few opportunities in the NHL, but hasn’t done anything to be mainstay, even on the third line.
Granted, Cormier is still young and still developing, but sooner or later that time runs out. It would still be too premature to state that his time has run out. However, I don’t know how many more chances he’ll have before the Jets give up on him.
I’m a big fan of Cormier and will root for him to find his game. Can he still become an impact player at the NHL level? Certainly. But at where he stands now, I don’t know if he can make the Jets roster.
Lukas Sutter was a second-round draft pick, 39th overall in the most recent NHL entry draft. The name sounds familiar, right? That’s because there’s another (and probably many more to come) Sutter that will be playing in the NHL some day.
Much like many of the other Sutters, Lukas isn't known for his offensive production. He was drafted to be a defensive center, one that you play against other team’s top lines.
Sutter would have been a little bit higher on my list, but he’s underperforming in the WHL this season. He has a hard task trying to live up to the other members of his family, but he’s poised to do it.
Carl Klingberg has fallen down my list. He was once ranked around three, and many lists have him in their top five. Not on mine.
Klingberg has gotten a chance to play in the NHL on two different occasions; both times he didn’t do anything notable. Klingberg’s a tall forward who can use his size to his advantage. He’s skilled enough to play in all three zones and play a shutdown style.
He's young and still needs some time to develop his game. I question if the offensive upside will ever be there for him to become a second line winger in the NHL. At worst, he’ll be a third line defensive guy.
Spencer Machacek has been waiting a very long time to get a chance to play in the NHL. After two failed opportunities in Atlanta, Machacek took advantage of his 13-game stint last season.
Machacek scored twice, assisted on seven others, and finished his call up as a plus-eight player. He surprised many with the offensive production, but the back checking and defensive abilities are something he was born with.
Machacek isn’t going to be a regular NHLer for his offensive skills; he’ll be a regular for his tremendous two-way skills. Last year’s call up gave a lot of fans hope that he can become a steady third-line wing in the NHL.
The Jets are gifted with offensive defensemen, and Paul Postma is another that can be added to the list.
Scoring goals was never an issue for Postma. He’s done it at every level including the WHL and AHL—two leagues where he’s put up monstrous numbers from the blue line. Now, the time is ticking for him to get extended playing time in the NHL.
This year would have been a perfect opportunity for him to step up, but with the NHL potentially locking out, Postma is going to have to wait it out. He certainly has the skill to put up goals in the NHL, but only time and opportunity will tell.
You probably don’t know much about him, or may not have even heard of him until now. Scott Kosmachuk was drafted by the Jets in the most recent draft, going 70th overall. Kosmachuk skyrocketed up my rankings and now sits fourth on my list.
Kosmachuk is an extremely gifted goal scorer, and is someone I’d keep a close eye on. The Jets need a player like him, and you bet they’re hoping he turns into one of the biggest steals of all time.
Kosmachuk is currently playing in the OHL with the Guelph Storm. He was a 30-goal scorer in 2011-12, and he’s on pace to score around 35 this season. Kosmachuk is only 18 years old. He won’t make the Jets' roster for some time, as it will take a few years for him to grow and fully mature as a hockey player.
He’s a goal scorer. He’s fun to watch. He’s extremely gifted and has a ton of hockey sense. Keep a very close eye on this young kid as he continues to grow. Can he score 50 in the OHL some day?
His name alone makes you think he has a career in the NHL some day. Ivan Telegin sits at number three on my top 10 list. This may be a surprise to many, but the young Russian forward has some hidden skill that could one day become unleashed in the NHL.
The Atlanta Thrashers drafted Telegin in the fourth round in 2010, a selection that could prove to be a huge steal. Telegin spent time in the OHL in Barrie with another Jets prospect, Mark Scheifele, before making the St. John’s IceCaps roster this season.
Telegin scored 35 goals in his last season with Barrie. He's simply a sniper and has a knack for scoring goals. He’s adapting to a more professional level in the AHL, but when he hits his stride, I’m sure more people will start to know his name.
He currently sits at number two, but he’ll be the Jets top prospect before you know it. Jacob Trouba is a highly-touted defensive-defenseman who has potential to become a franchise defenseman.
Trouba is a hitting machine and has outstanding defensive skills. He's known for his aggressiveness and physical play in the defensive zone. All signs point towards Trouba becoming the Jets' franchise defenseman for years to come.
He’s currently playing in the NCAA with the University of Michigan, where the maturation and growing process is crucial. The Jets will have to be patient and wait out the time it will take for Trouba to become NHL-ready, but the wait will be well worth it.
Without any doubt, Mark Scheifele ranks atop the Jets’ prospects on every list out there.
The former eighth-overall pick has potential to become the center that the Jets never had. He's a complete center with skills in all areas. Offensive, defense, special teams, Scheifele has ability to do everything and more.
The anticipation and excitement for Scheifele's arrival is high. It’s been a year since he was taken in the 2011 draft, but his road to the NHL will come sooner rather than later.
Scheifele is developing into a true leader. In the OHL, Scheifele currently ranks amongst the top five in points and is leading the Colts to an unforgettable season as they sit in first place in their conference. To say he's tearing up the OHL would be an understatement.