Brian’s Super Late and Completely Past the Point of Relevancy Draft Grades

So yeah, the draft happened a month ago, but I didn’t have a platform to air my thoughts out until recently. I have plenty of thoughts on this year’s draft, mostly the Jets. I have some players on other teams that I wanted to talk about as well, but I’ll save that for a separate piece.

David Gustafsson (WPG, 2nd round, 60th overall)

Love this pick. Plain and simple. I don’t know how to put it in any more words than that. David Gustafsson looks to be a stellar player and could have a Kristian Vesalainen-like breakout season this year with HV71.

I think he stays one year in Europe and comes to North America after this season, following the same development path. Long term I see Gustaffson down the middle on either the second or third line, depending on how Paul Maurice (or any possible future coach) sees Roslovic. Maurice has shown signs of wanting Roslovic on the wing, and if that’s the case, Gustaffson as the second line centre is far from unrealistic.

Gustaffson is absolutely the best pick of this draft, and is the most likely to make an NHL impact, and potentially soon.

(Video Courtesy of Jets Prospects on YouTube)

Potential: 2nd line C

Grade: A

Nathan Smith (WPG 3rd round, 91st overall)

Probably the most confusing pick of the draft for the Jets. Nathan Smith is an overage player out of the USHL, which has yielded decent results thus far, but nothing mindblowing for an overage player. Smith lead the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in points with 47 in 51 games, which isn’t particularly eye-popping. The scouts must see a ceiling in Smith that I don’t.

Smith is headed to Minnesota State, where Jets prospect CJ Suess spent the past four seasons.

I think there were better options at 91, but I trust the USHL scouting more than any other scouts in the Jets’ system, so they get the benefit of the doubt for this pick, and am not gonna question them too much.

(Video Courtesy of Jets Prospects on YouTube)

Potential: Bottom line forward

Grade: C

 

Declan Chisholm (WPG, 5th round, 150th overall) and

Giovanni Vallati (WPG, 5th round, 153rd overall)

There is a 99% chance Chevy has Twitter and has read our lust for left handed defensemen. In the fifth round, Chevy gave us what we asked for, selecting two more to add to an ever deepening left side with Declan Chisholm and Giovanni Vallati.

The once-barren wasteland of left handed defensemen is now a flourishing paradise. In addition to young stalwart Josh Morrissey, the Jets have Sami Niku waiting in the wings amongst a few others in Dylan Samberg, Croix Evingson, Logan Stanley, and now the two OHL players, Chisholm from Peterborough and Vallati from Kitchener. It’s safe to say that there is finally depth on the left side. With Morrissey and Niku being locks in the long term, that leaves one more left side spot for the latter five players.

Chisholm is a more shutdown type player, he’s the lone player filling that slot. All the other D are more known for their offensive acumen, but Chisholm is a more old school breed. That’s not to say that Chisholm is just a big body with no offensive skill however. Chisholm tallied 20 points in 46 games for the Petes this past year.

(Video Courtesy of Jets Prospects on YouTube)

Three picks came later is Vallati. Teammate of Stanley, Vallati finished second in points by a defenseman, (26 points in 65 games), behind the 2016 draft pick Stanley.

Scouts seem give Vallati the edge between the two, getting a higher average rating via EliteProspects.com due to the more offensive nature of his game.

While playing games that are a near opposite, I view these guys about the same in regards to their development ceilings, so it was easier to just lump their grades together into one. Each could develop into NHL regulars, possibly reaching second pair. If I had to pick one, it would be Vallati making the larger impact due to his offensive skill on the junior level. With how the game is changing, scooping a player like Vallati in the fifth round could potentially be another Niku-like steal for the Jets.

Potential: Top 6 D

Grade: B

Jared Moe (WPG, 6th round, 184th overall)

The lone goaltender selected by the Jets in the draft, coming out of the USHL, Jared Moe posted an impressive .919 SV% in his 32 games for the Waterloo Black Hawks. Moe’s save percentage was good enough for seventh in the league, behind fellow Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin sitting at fourth who had a .921.

Moe is an intriguing prospect, but my only long term concern for him is if he’ll get his shot. The Jets system has their long-term starter in Connor Hellebuyck, and many possible suitors for a backup. Berdin, Arvid Holm, Eric Comrie, Jamie Phillips, and now Moe are all vying for that spot. My prediction is that Berdin winds up with the backup role, leaving Moe to potentially grasp the Moose starting gig.

Potential: NHL backup goalie or AHL starter

Grade: B

 

Austin Wong (WPG, 7th round, 215th overall)

With their final pick, the Jets took what can be best described as an “agent of chaos”. No matter where Austin Wong ends up, he’ll be a fan favorite. A speedy, hard hitter with a decent scoring touch. Wong can be loosely compared to Brandon Tanev or JC Lipon.

If Wong hits the level of Tanev or Lipon, it’s excellent value for the Jets. Potentially another seventh rounder to join the Sami Niku club. Wong’s biggest downside is his habit of taking penalties. Wong tallied 235 penalty minutes in 55 games last season with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers, a number that somehow overshadows him scoring nearly a point per game.

The Jets have no positional need for depth wingers with many options already on the Moose, but adding another agent of chaos like Tanev, Lipon, or Brendan Lemieux never hurts.

 

Potential: 4th line / depth energy winger

 

Grade: B-

 

Overall thoughts:

The Jets have had a bad track record in even-year drafts, at least relatively. This year was arguably their best draft in an even year. Despite no first round pick, and no clear blue chip prospect (even though I love Gustafsson) like a Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers or Jacob Trouba this year, I give this class the top-to-bottom edge because each pick looks to be “meh” at worst. Something we can’t say about the aforementioned years.

But adding another higher ceiling talent, via a trade up would have really upped my excitement. The Jets are definitely efficient, but with the position they’re in, I would have loved to see a home run swing from Chevy and the gang. Overall, it was absolutely a solid draft, but in reality only one pick got me really excited, being Gustaffson.

Grade: B-

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