Winnipeg's all-time draft team: Best Jets plus Thrash mettle - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Winnipeg's all-time draft team: Best Jets plus Thrash mettle

The Jets' all-time all-drafted team blends the Atlanta Thrashers with Winnipeg's second NHL incarnation. Think of it this way: Scheifele and Laine are joined by the likes of Kovalchuk and Heatley.
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USA Today

USA Today

It's called the Winnipeg Jets' all-time all-drafted team, but it doesn't include the original Jets franchise and half the team is comprised of Atlanta Thrashers selections.

The background: the original Jets relocated to Phoenix and became the Coyotes in 1996, so Winnipeg's draft picks from 1979 through 1995 are part of Arizona's all-time all-drafted team. Meanwhile, the Thrashers closed shop in Atlanta and moved to Winnipeg in 2011, so their draft picks from 1999 through 2010 are part of the current Jets' all-time all-drafted team.

A few more quick things to keep in mind: since Winnipeg's all-time all-drafted team is only made up of players drafted since 1999, it's not a huge pool to draw from compared to some of the NHL's older teams. Also, there was a reason Atlanta relocated – they weren't a good team, and that's partly due to poor drafting. Finally, when you consider the fact that players drafted in the past four or five years haven't had a chance yet to build up an NHL body of work, that limits the Jets' all-time all-drafted team even further.

All of which is to say, while this team has undeniable star power at the top, there are definitely some depth issues, especially down the middle and at right wing. In fact, Patrik Laine is the only natural right winger drafted by the Jets/Thrashers to make the all-time all-drafted team – the three other "right wingers" were shifted over from their natural forward position to fill in. That's because the second-best right winger ever selected by Winnipeg/Atlanta is Patrick Dwyer, whom the Thrashers picked 116th overall in 2002. He scored 42 goals and 93 points in 416 career NHL games. He is not on the all-time all-drafted team.

Got it? Great. Let's get into it.

The first line is a goal-scorer's delight, with Mark Scheifele between Laine and left winger Ilya Kovalchuk. It's basically three guys with 50-goal potential, though Scheifele will likely have to sacrifice some offense in the interest of backchecking. Someone has to play a little defense on this line, after all. He's certainly going to pile up the assists, though, passing off to the booming one-timers of 'Kovy' and Laine.

On the second line, it's Bryan Little with Dany Heatley on the left side and left-winger-turned-right-winger Nikolaj Ehlers. This sets up as a pretty traditional second unit: Little is slotted properly in a supporting role, Heatley is the shooter and Ehlers has the moves and mindset for a top-six spot.

Big, physical Adam Lowry centers the third line, with natural center Andrew Copp moving over to right wing and Kyle Connor on the left side. This is the checking unit, with Lowry and Copp grinding it out while Connor uses his speed and shot to provide offense.

The fourth line features Jack Roslovic down the middle, and while it's a bit of a stretch to put him on an "all-time" team considering he only has 180 NHL games to his credit, it shouldn't be too long before he surpasses the scoring totals of other candidates such as Jim Slater (584 games) and Derek MacKenzie (611 games). Evander Kane skates on the left side – this team is loaded at left wing, with Kovalchuk, Heatley, Connor and Kane – and 1999 No. 1 pick and original Thrasher Patrik Stefan at right wing. Stefan, for all his shortcomings, did produce a bit of offense and was a decent two-way player. And, well, that's good enough to make the Jets' all-time all-drafted team at this point.

The defense corps isn't stacked with stars, but it's solid. Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey reunite on the first pairing for a mobile, all-around duo that brings a healthy dose of physicality. The second pairing has smooth-skating offense in Tobias Enstrom and big-body defense in Braydon Coburn. On the third pair, it's an in-your-face twosome with Ben Chiarot and Zach Bogosian, and Bogosian contributes offensively with his point shot.

The crease is in good hands with Connor Hellebuyck as the starter and Kari Lehtonen backing him up. We'll go with Ondrej Pavelec as the emergency backup.

Here’s a look at Winnipeg/Atlanta's all-time all-drafted team. The 20-player lineup is based on players’ entire NHL body of work.

CENTERS
Mark Scheifele (7th, 2011)
Bryan Little (12th, 2006)
Adam Lowry (67th, 2011)
Jack Roslovic (25th, 2015)

RIGHT WINGERS
Patrik Laine (2nd, 2016)
Nikolaj Ehlers (9th, 2014)
Andrew Copp (104th, 2013)
Patrik Stefan (1st, 1999)

LEFT WINGERS
Ilya Kovalchuk (1st, 2001)
Dany Heatley (2nd, 2000)
Kyle Connor (17th, 2015)
Evander Kane (4th, 2009)

DEFENSEMEN
Jacob Trouba (9th, 2012)
Josh Morrissey (13th, 2013)
Tobias Enstrom (239th, 2003)
Braydon Coburn (8th, 2003)
Ben Chiarot (120th, 2009)
Zach Bogosian (3rd, 2008)

GOALIES
Connor Hellebuyck (130th, 2012)
Kari Lehtonen (2nd, 2002)

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