Wednesday, August 15, 2018

31 Teams in 31 Days - Winnipeg Jets

This is the end my friend!

1. Logan Stanley - Kitchener Rangers
Solid year for Stanley, improving his offensive output and helping the Kitchener Rangers reach the Western Conference finals. The hulking defender is a major defensive asset because of his size, physicality, and mobility. Keeps you at bay with his reach off the rush, but if you do manage to get behind him, he'll punish you physically along the boards. Hands down, one of the meanest one on one defenders in the OHL. Just very difficult to defeat in one on one battles. And because he's pretty mobile for his size and has those long strides, he can get to loose pucks quickly and start the breakout, either with an exit pass or a rush. Actually was fairly aggressive in leading the rush this year, pushing the pace and gaining the offensive zone. Once he gets those feet moving, he's hard to separate from the puck in the neutral zone. Has really worked hard to become a quality two-way defender. I still don't know how much the offensive ability will translate to the NHL level as I think his puck skill is only average. But the progression he showed this year was promising. Next year he'll turn pro and will look to establish himself as a top 4 defender at the AHL level immediately. He'll need time to adjust to the speed of the pro game, especially when it comes to positioning defensively and handling forecheckers. But he's on the path to becoming a solid top 4 NHL defender. 

2. Giovanni Vallati - Kitchener Rangers
The Jets likely saw a lot of Vallati while watching Stanley this year. Entered the season as a possible first round candidate but a very slow start to the year, combined with a lack of progression offensively, pushed him down draft lists. However, he remains an intriguing prospect because of his mobility on the back-end. Vallati is an effortless skater who is extremely fluid, something that helps him defend off the rush, track down loose pucks, and may one day help him become a factor offensively. At the beginning of the year, Vallati looked to be pressing offensively, trying to make an impact on the score sheet. As such, turnovers were an issue and we saw him chasing the play a lot. But his game settled down in the second half, where he showcased how much of an impact he can have in his own end (was a +7 in the playoffs). Next season, Vallati will be a top 2-3 defender for the Rangers and will be given every opportunity to play a larger role offensively. Would be great for him to gain confidence in his ability to be a puck rusher. Also want to see him play with greater physical intensity in the defensive end, at least more consistently. I'm going to say Vallati ends up with around 35 points next year and takes a step forward in the right direction.

3. Declan Chisholm - Peterborough Petes
Bit of a polarizing prospect heading into this year's draft. Came into the year pretty highly touted, but struggled on a poor Peterborough Petes team that likely put too much pressure on him to be a key factor given his age and experience. He also missed two months with an ankle injury. What you've got with Chisholm is a potential puck mover with above average mobility and puck skill. Definitely shows potential as someone who can lead the rush and quarterback a powerplay. But lots of areas need to improve. Offensively, his point shot and confidence with the puck will need to improve. Ditto for his decision making in the defensive end. Had some trouble with turnovers this year. Defensively, he's going to have to get stronger and increase his intensity level in his own end. Just not a very effective player in the corners or in front of the net right now as some of the bigger forwards in the OHL can overwhelm him. I say all this of course, as one of the analysts who had him ranked lower in their rankings. I don't have a ton of confidence in Peterborough improving much next year, and if they have any chance, it will be on their younger players to take massive steps forward. I would expect modest improvements, maybe into the 30+ point mark offensively. His Draft +2 year may be that big one where we see a big jump. 

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