Every month throughout the NHL season we’ll be updating you on the development of key Winnipeg Jets prospects with up-to-date stats, videos, analysis and scouting reports.
Connor Hellebuyck entered the season as one of the Winnipeg Jets’ top prospects. Today, he’s the their starting goalie.
There was all kinds of buzz around Hellebuyck, not only because of the goalie’s 6-foot-4 frame and tremendous ability, but because he plays a position that has represented a bit of a black hole for Winnipeg in recent times.
Hellebuyck won his first four starts and has posted a .931 save percentage in 18 games since his November call-up from the AHL was necessitated by an injury to Ondrej Pavelec. If that small sample size represents what the Jets can expect from Hellebuyck for the next 10 years, Winnipeg’s crease conundrums will dry up fast.
As for players at other positions, the Jets — widely considered to have one of the best prospect pipelines in the league — have a number of intriguing kids working their way up the ranks. There’s even another goalie in there, too, just in case.
Kyle Connor: LW/C, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)
Season to date: 19GP | 15G | 16A | +22
Draft: First round, 17th overall, 2015
Connor is absolutely tearing up it up during his debut season with the Wolverines. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder leads all freshmen in scoring and his 1.63 points-per-game is the fourth-best mark in the nation. The 19-year-old has managed all that while taking just one minor penalty.
Connor has essentially stepped into the offensive role vacated by Detroit Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin after the one-and-done Wolverine turned pro at the end of last year. Longtime Michigan coach Red Berenson has lauded Connor for his shot and nose for the net.
Given Connor’s height and touch, it’s understandable if Manitobans are starting to salivate just a bit. Despite his impressive stats, Connor wasn’t able to crack Team USA’s roster for the World Junior Championship in Finland.
Check out the Michigan native’s speed and hands on this breakaway goal (second highlight, No. 18).
Eric Comrie: G, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
Season to date: 24GP | 9-12-3 | 2.81 | .915
Draft: Second round, 59th overall, 2013
Comrie is making a decent transition to the AHL, considering he plays for a bad team.
The 20-year-old has seen his workload increase since Hellebuyck’s call-up and, for the most part, Comrie has responded well to the challenge. Comrie isn’t huge at 6-foot-1, but he certainly has a long enough frame to fit the minimum standard for a puckstopper these days.
Comrie, the half-brother of former NHLer Mike Comrie, has a strong mind for his position and a competitive spirit that should propel him forward. His hard work has helped bury doubts tied to hip surgeries Comrie had a couple years ago while he was still with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.
Chase De Leo: C, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
Season to date: 35GP | 11G | 9A | -12
Draft: Fourth round, 99th overall, 2014
Like Comrie, De Leo’s development as a rookie AHLer must be viewed through the lens of Manitoba being one of the league’s worst outfits.
De Leo, a Californian, is second in team scoring and leads all Moose with 11 goals. He played major junior alongside fellow Jets draftee Nic Petan and registered 165 points in 139 games during his final two WHL seasons with the Portland Winterhawks.
The Jets can afford to bring De Leo along slowly and, ideally, the team would give him another AHL season with a better version of the club next year.
In addition to Petan, De Leo also has a history with Comrie. The Moose teammates played together as kids in California (Comrie spent some time in both Canada and the U.S.), and faced off in a huge Canada/U.S. New Year’s Eve tilt at the 2015 World Juniors.
Also, this would seem to be the De Leo family cat. His name, appropriately, is Jet and his evil long-lost brother is named Mr. Bigglesworth.
Jet is a little grumpy I'm leaving back to Winnipeg tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/0vabxVtjmP
— Chase De Leo (@Dels9) December 28, 2015
Jack Roslovich: C, Miami (Ohio) University (NCAA)
Season to date: 20GP | 9G | 9A | -4
Draft: First round, 25th overall, 2015.
Like Kyle Connor, Roslovich was selected in Round 1 by Winnipeg last June. And like Connor, Roslovich was left of Team USA’s WJC club, though the latter will get another crack at making the team next year. (Connor won’t because he’s a late birthday and turns 20 in 2016.)
Roslovich is a right-shooting pivot who checks in at 6-foot-1. He spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program and his freshman season with Miami is going swimmingly.
If you don’t believe us, check out this beauty.
Josh Morrissey: D, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
Season to date: 35GP | 2G | 7A | -3
Draft: First round, 13th overall, 2013
The offensive-minded blue-liner has had a rough transition to the AHL. But while the numbers aren’t there yet, Morrissey’s talent didn’t just evaporate. The 20-year-old will likely benefit from another season of minor-league seasoning before we see him with the big club.
Nic Petan: C, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
Season to date: 21GP | 2G | 13A | -12
Draft: Second round, 43rd overall, 2013
Petan started the season in the NHL, but after one goal in 14 outings, the Jets sent him to the ‘A.’
Despite the fact he’s bagged just two goals, Petan’s 0.71 points-per-game is the best mark on the Moose. Don’t be surprised if he makes the Jets next fall and sticks.
Here’s a mic’d up Petan mingling with his old Portland Winterhawk teammates a couple years ago.