During the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Winnipeg Jets made four total selections. There were no draft-day trades made by general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who seemed just fine to stand pat where the team was at.
Chaz Lucius, C, USA U-18-NTDP (Round 1, Pick 18)
Nikita Chibrikov, RW, St. Petersburg-KHL (Round 2, Pick 50)
Dmitry Kuzmin, D, Molodechno-Belarus (Round 3, Pick 82)
Dmitri Rashevsky, RW, Krasnogorsk-VHL (Round 5, Pick 146)
The Jets were another team that focused on forward depth in this draft, with three of their four picks going towards forwards. Winnipeg prides themselves on their forward depth throughout the organization, so this isn’t necessarily a huge surprise.
Best Pick: Chaz Lucius
The Jets had Lucius fall into their laps at 18th overall, and Cheveldayoff had to be thrilled. Mocked by some to fall somewhere in the top-15, Lucius has all the skills to become a top goal scorer in the league. His offensive game is the best part of his game. He has a multitude of shots that he utilizes extremely well. When looking at some of the centers the Jets have developed into scoring machines, like Mark Scheifele, one could be hard-pressed to find a better pairing between this player and the organization.
Worst Pick: Dmitry Kuzmin
Kuzmin has the skills needed to make an impact in the Jets’ organization, but there are two main factors that will cause some worry in Winnipeg. The first main factor is his size. Kuzmin is lacking in that department, which is key to becoming an NHL defenseman. He stands at 5’10”, weighing 177 lbs. The second big factor is the lack of competition. In Belarus, Kuzmin didn’t face very much pro-level competition, although that wasn’t necessarily any fault of his own as he was scheduled to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). For now, Kuzmin lands here, but it will be intriguing to see what he can do facing pro-level competition.
Sleeper Pick: Nikita Chibrikov
Chibrikov is another player who fell thanks to the forward depth of this draft. He had the talent to be a first-round pick but fell to the Jets in the middle of the second round. Chibirkov is a great skater and has the makings of a great playmaker. In the Jets’ system, where the team’s wingers usually play that playmaking role, Chibrikov could be a great fit in the future. He may just be a little longer than some of his fellow classmates, as he is signed in the KHL for the next two seasons.
This class won’t be seen for a few years, with Lucius being a University of Minnesota commit, Chibrikov and Rashevsky in the KHL, and Kuzmin still having to face pro-competition. But this could be a class that fits perfectly into the Jets’ system. Winnipeg fans should be excited about all the four prospects the team selected in 2021.
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