Highly touted Harkins not upset to fall to Jets


Jansen Harkins, of the Prince George Cougars, suited up for Team Orr during the CHL Top Prospects game in 2015. (Peter Power/CP)

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Harkins family knows how to be patient at the NHL Draft.

Jansen Harkins was selected in the second round by the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, slipping to 47th overall, below his projected draft position.

Harkins’s father Todd was drafted 44th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1988 and went on to play a brief NHL career before moving on to the IHL and Europe. The senior Harkins is now the general manager of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, where his son played his junior hockey.

“He kind of prepared me a little bit,” said Jansen Harkins. “There’s nothing you can really do to prepare for this moment. Throughout hockey he’s always been there for me and really supportive. My whole family is. I’m really fortunate to have them.”

The 18-year-old Harkins had 20 goals and 59 assists for Prince George last season. He also had three goals and two assists for Canada at the under-18 world championships.

Most projections had Harkins going in the first round, including NHL Central Scouting which had him ranked No. 15 among North American skaters.

“It’s one of those things where sometimes there’s players that are ranked a lot higher throughout the different rankings that for whatever reason fall in to your lap,” said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Saturday. “He’s a skilled centreman, obviously, over a point a game in his draft year in the Western Hockey League. Good two-way player, real smart, good puck distributor.”

Harkins believes that landing with Winnipeg was a fortunate break and insisted that he never let his expectations get the better of him.

“You can’t expect to go in the first round because anything could happen,” said Harkins. “But I was pretty optimistic to the fact that I thought I would be. It was a tough night, but obviously this is probably one of the best days of my life.

“I’m excited to get going with the Jets.”

Winnipeg took three centres with its first three picks.

On Day 1 of the draft the Jets selected six-foot-one Kyle Connor 17th overall before taking six-foot Jack Roslovic eight picks later. Connor played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League. He led the USHL with 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) last season and has committed to the University of Michigan for 2015-16.

Roslovic ranked fourth on the U.S. under-18 team with 25 goals and 52 assists in 2014-15. He’ll be playing for the Miami University RedHawks next season.

“We feel we’ve added a lot of skill to the organization through the course of the two days here,” said Cheveldayoff. “Certainly added a lot of depth at centre, a little bit on the wing.”

Winnipeg drafted left-winger Erik Foley in the third, right-winger Michael Spacek in the fourth and centre Mason Appleton in the sixth.

The Jets drafted two players in the seventh, selecting Finnish defenceman Sami Niku 198th overall and centre Matteo Gennaro at the No. 203 spot.

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