Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 28 2015, Page 20

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 28, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE B5 S UNRISE, Fla. — Jansen Harkins had to wait... and wait... and wait. And yet for a hockeycrazed kid who grew up in a hockey- crazed family, there is no better thrill than hearing your named called out and pulling on a team jersey. Even if it comes on Day 2 of the NHL draft, some 47 picks in. “ It’s exciting,” Harkins said after the Winnipeg Jets used their third pick of the draft, halfway through Saturday’s second round, on him. “ You wait pretty much your whole life for this day. I know this is going to get harder, but this is the start of my NHL career and I’m very happy with Winnipeg and hopefully I can prove them right with their pick. “( Friday) was tough. You can’t really expect to go first round, but I was pretty optimistic and thought I would be. It was a tough night, but obviously this is probably one of the best days of my life and I’m excited to get going with the Jets.” Harkins had 20 goals and a club- record 59 assists in 70 games last season en route to winning the Dan Hamhuis Award as MVP of the Prince George Cougars. His father is Todd Harkins, a former professional hockey player who also serves as the Cougars general manager. Jansen Harkins described himself as a two- way centre, a guy who grew up idolizing current Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler. He had been ranked considerably higher on most mock drafts, but — like Kyle Connor who slipped to the Jets at No. 17 in first round Friday — he was available when the Jets’ turn came in the second round Saturday. Harkins was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Vancouver and has dual citizenship. He played for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last summer, and plans on growing his game further with another Western Hockey League season in Prince George. His dad isn’t the only family member with the Cougars. His older brother, Nicklas, is the assistant equipment manager and a picture of perseverance — he has the rare genetic disorder mucopolysaccharidosis, which undermines physical development. Harkins’s father played just 48 games in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers before heading to Europe. His uncle, Brett, also played in the NHL and Europe. “( His dad) started me off with hockey, but I was fortunate my parents never really forced me or anything like that,” Harkins said. “ To be able to play hockey at this level and continue, you have to have the passion and a love for the game and enjoy it. He kind of let us figure that out for ourselves ( his younger brother also plays) and so far it’s been working out. “ It’s the competition that I love,” he said. “ The end goal of winning a Stanley Cup is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was very young. This is just another step. To hopefully one day make the NHL and lift the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal.” ed. tait@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ WFPEdTait winnipegfreepress. com WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2015 B5 NHL Draft S UNRISE, Fla. — They mined Finland and the Czech Republic and found a potential gem in Western Canada. But the Winnipeg Jets’ work at the 2015 NHL draft was all about their tapping the talent pool down south. The Jets made eight selections over the sevenround draft Friday and Saturday and took four Americans ( three of them in the team’s first four picks). And they paid particular attention to scouting the United States Hockey League as all four Yanks — first- rounders Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic, third- rounder Erik Foley and sixth- round selection Mason Appleton — spent time in America’s top junior league. The Jets also selected two Western Hockey Leaguers on Day 2 — centres Jansen Harkins of the Prince George Cougars ( second round, 47th overall) and Matteo Gennaro of the Prince Albert Raiders ( seventh round, 203rd overall) — along with Czech winger Michael Spacek ( fourth round, 108th overall) and Finnish defenceman Sami Niku ( seventh round, 198th overall). The tallies, then: four Americans, two Canadians, one Czech and one Finn; four centres, three wingers and one defenceman. “ We’ve added a lot of skill to the organization throughout the course of the two days here,” said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “ Certainly, we added a lot of depth at centre, a little bit on the wing. Maybe not as much on defence as we had maybe set out and planned to, but when you’re at the table that’s how some things fall. “ And when there’s players scouts are passionate about drafting, those are the ones you draft. We had great meetings throughout the year and our guys enjoy putting our lists together. We encourage a lot of passion for different players and I keep on telling them, ‘ Don’t draft a guy just because he’s on someone’s list, draft him because you want him to be a Winnipeg Jet.’ ” Harkins, like Connor in the first round, was a player who may have “ fallen” to the Jets. Projected as a first- rounder by most draft analysts, he dropped to No. 47 before he heard his name called by the Jets. “ It’s one of those things where sometimes players ranked a lot higher throughout the different rankings, for whatever reasons, fall into your lap,” said Cheveldayoff. “ He’s a skilled centreman who had over a point a game ( 79 points in 70 games) in his draft year in the Western Hockey League. A two- way player, real smart puck distributor who is going to get stronger and become real solid player.” The Jets used their third- round pick ( 78th overall) to select Foley, a left winger with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL. Foley ( 5- 11, 172 pounds) had 27 goals and 27 assists in 55 games last year as a rookie. He will attend Providence College ( Rhode Island) in the fall. “ There’s a lot of relief having your name called. I’m just happy I could cherish it with my family,” said Foley, who spoke to the Jets three times before the draft. “ I knew they liked me so I wasn’t surprised when I went to them. “ I’m a power forward. I like to use my strength and my speed and win pucks in the corners, but I can mix in some skill with that and put pucks in the net.” Foley’s older brother, Bruce, now a personal trainer, was an excellent football player in high school who had scholarships to Ohio State and Michigan State, but did not meet NCAA eligibility standards. “ I kind of looked at that as motivation,” said Foley, “ that he had the chance and now I have a chance to do something for the family. I want to live up to his name and take it from there.” Spacek has been playing in the Czech elite league with Pardubice and has suited up for his country at the world junior tournament. The Jets hope he can join a Canadian junior team this fall so they can better monitor his development. “ I’m a good skater, great vision and the passing plays are my strengths,” Spacek said through a translator. Mimicking stickhandling and shooting with his hands, he added in English: “ And shooting.” Appleton, who played for the Tri- City Storm in the USHL and is heading to Michigan State in the fall, was selected in the sixth round ( No. 168). “ He’s someone our scouts really liked in the later rounds,” Cheveldayoff said. “ We were kinda hoping he’d still be there when we went to pick.” “ I’m a two- way centreman, big body, that likes to make hard plays and go to the net hard and is reliable in both zones,” Appleton said. “ Winnipeg is one of the teams that is highest on me. Ever since the Fall Classic, which is the first two games of the USHL ( season), I’ve stayed in steady contact with them throughout the season.” Niku, the lone blue- liner selected by the Jets, does fill an organizational need as a left- handedshooting defenceman. Ranked 71st by International Scouting Services, he spent last season with JYP, both at the junior level and in the elite Liiga, while also playing for Finland at the world junior championship. “ He’s a real smooth- skating defenceman who can move the puck and someone people thought would go a lot higher,” said Cheveldayoff. “ He was here at the draft and it’s difficult to be picked in the seventh round as a European. We feel real good about where we drafted him and what he could be as a player.” The Jets’ eighth and final pick was used on Gennaro. He started slowly for the Raiders, but had 25 of his 31 points from January through to the end of the regular season. “ He had a real, real strong second half this year,” said Cheveldayoff. “ He plays a strong two- way game and with the good size ( 6- 2, 184) combination we project the second half of the year will be what he continues to be as he develops.” ed. tait@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ WFPEdTait LARRY MACDOUGAL / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Jansen Harkins scored 20 goals and 59 assists in 70 games last WHL season for the Prince George Cougars. O say can you see... Jets like Americans Four of eight Winnipeg draft picks from USHL By Ed Tait MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES ‘ We’ve added a lot of skill to the organization...,’ Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff says. Winnipeg finds Day 2 surprise Highly touted WHL centre Harkins slips to Jets in second round By Ed Tait ‘ This is just another step. To hopefully one day make the NHL and lift the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal’ B_ 05_ Jun- 28- 15_ FP_ 01. indd B5 6/ 27/ 15 8: 34: 33 PM

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