WINNIPEG - The exercise known as the NHL Draft Lottery didn’t yield any jumping-up-the-board results for the Winnipeg Jets.
In a week where the head coaching vacancy had taken centre stage after Manitoban Barry Trotz became available, the Jets found out they will hold the 14th overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, which is scheduled for Montreal in July.
The Jets still have an opportunity to add a second first-rounder near the bottom of the draft as part of the conditions attached to the Andrew Copp deadline deal with the New York Rangers.
However, the Rangers are down 3-1 in the opening round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so they’ll need to win three consecutive games just to keep their season alive and would need to win seven more contests for the Jets to turn one of those second round picks they acquired in the deal into a first.
Given where the original selection falls near the middle of the first round, the Jets are expected to have a wide variety of styles of player to choose from.
As much fun as it is to try and stare in the crystal ball and predict what positional need the Jets might target, that’s not how this scouting staff has operated since 2011.
During the 10 previous drafts, the Jets have chosen eight forwards and four blue-liners in the first round, with three of the past four first-rounders coming at the forward position.
Even with a number of defencemen being on the verge of either claiming a spot outright or battling for an NHL job, that doesn’t mean the Jets will do anything but choose the player that is at the top of their draft board.
For the sake of context, some of the recent 14th overall picks include forward Dylan Holloway to the Edmonton Oilers in 2020, defenceman Cam York to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2019, forward Joel Farabee to the Flyers in 2018, defenceman Cal Foote to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017, defenceman Charlie McAvoy to the Boston Bruins in 2016 and forward Jake DeBrusk to the Bruins in 2015.
Last summer, forward Chaz Lucius fell to the Jets at 18th overall after several teams bypassed him partly due to games missed the previous season due to injury, while Cole Perfetti was still on the board for them with the 10th overall selection in 2020.
With all of that in mind, here’s a quick look at some of the players who could be available when Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff steps to the podium inside the Bell Centre on July 7:
RW Jimmy Snuggerud, US National Development Team Program, USDP (56 GP, 24 G, 39 A, 63 P, 32 PIM), 11th among North American skaters according to Central Scouting.
A budding power forward who is used in all situations and has committed to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers program for next season, he’s showcased an ability to produce offensively but also brings a physical element that rounds out his game. He’s coming off a strong showing at the IIHF U18 World Championship (three goals, seven points in six games while playing on a line with Logan Cooley) and is the son of former NHL forward Dave Snuggerud, who played 265 games with the Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers. Being a right-handed shooting right-winger with size is a bonus and would add organizational depth to a position that could use some.
D Denton Mateychuk, Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL (65 GP, 15 G, 51 A, 64 P, 15 PIM), 14th among North American skaters according to Central Scouting.
The Dominion City product is an offensive blue-liner who is heavily involved in the game. After producing at a point-per-game pace, Mateychuk has his team in the second round of the WHL Playoffs against the high-octane Winnipeg Ice. Known for his leadership, Mateychuk turned heads at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Kitchener, Ontario.
D Owen Pickering, Swift Current Broncos, WHL (62 GP, 9 G, 24 A, 33 P, 39 PIM), 15th among North American skaters according to Central Scouting.
Another Manitoban (who hails from St. Adolphe), Pickering isn’t on this list because he’s a local but because of the blend of size (6-foot-5, 179 pounds) and skill that he brings to the table. Pickering recently represented Canada at the U18 World Championship in Germany (chipping in two assists in four games) and is known for his smooth skating ability.