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The Jets Draft: You Have to Know ‘Em to Love ‘Em

By Scott Taylor/Photo courtesy Game On Magazine

On a day when the Winnipeg Jets re-signed defenseman Ben Chiarot to a new two-year deal, the club selected seven more players in the final six rounds of the 2017 National Hockey League Draft in Chicago.

Chiarot, 26, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound lefthanded-shooting D-man from Hamilton, Ont., signed a one-way, two-year deal worth $1.4 million per season. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round (120th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft.

Last year, he played in 59 games for the Jets and had two goals and 12 points before suffering a season-ending upper body injury on Mar. 19 against the Minnesota Wild. He has played parts of the last four seasons with the Jets and has five goals and 30 points in 170 career games.

Meanwhile, at the Draft in Chicago, one day after selecting Finnish star Kristian Veselainen in the First Round on Friday night, the Jets made seven picks on Saturday.

Thanks to Scott Unger of the Winnipeg Jets for assistance with the players’ biographies:

Round 2

Dylan Samberg


Born Jan 24 1999 — Hermantown, MN

Height 6.03 — Weight 190 — Shoots L

The Jets selected American defenseman Dylan Samberg with the 43rd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Samberg, 18, tallied 28 points (10G, 18A) in 25 games with Hermantown High School, as he helped the Hawks win the Minnesota State A Championship. He started the season by racking up 12 points (5G, 7A) in 18 games for Team North in the Minnesota High School Elite League. He also had two points (1G, 1A) in six games with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the regular season and three points (1G, 2A) in eight playoff games.

Samberg is committed to play next season for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

Round 3

Jonathan Kovacevic


Born Jul 12 1997 — Grimsby, ONT

Height 6.04 — Weight 208 — Shoots R

The Jets selected Canadian defenseman Jonathan Kovacevic with the 74th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Kovacevic, 19, had 19 points (3G, 16A) in 36 games as a freshman with Merrimack College last season. The product of Grimsby, Ont. played three years of junior A in the Central Canada Hockey League with the Ottawa Jr. Senators and Hawkesbury Hawks, tallying 55 points (13G, 42A) in 103 games.

Round 4

Santeri Virtanen


Born May 11, 1999

Height 6.02 — Weight 194 — Shoots L

The Jets selected Finnish forward Santeri Virtanen with the 105th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Virtanen, 18, missed most of the season due to injury, but had six points (2G, 4A) in five games with TPS in the Jr. A SM-Liiga. Along with Jets first round pick Kristian Vesalainen, Virtanen helped Finland win a silver medal at the 2017 U18 World Championship with six points (2G, 4A) in seven games.

Round 4

Leon Gawanke


Born May 31 1999

Height 6.01 — Weight 186 — Shoots R

The Jets selected German defenseman Leon Gawanke with the 136th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Gawanke, 18, hails from Berlin, Germany, but suited up in the QMJHL last season for Cape Breton. In 54 games with the Screaming Eagles, he had 32 points (8G, 24A) during the regular season and added four points (1G, 3A) in 11 playoff games. He also had an assist in four games with Germany at the U20 Division 1A World Championship.

Round 5

Arvid Holm


Born November 11 1998

Height 6.04 — Weight 214 — Catches L 

The Jets selected Finnish goaltender Arvid Holm with the 167th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Holm, 18, played in 26 games with Karlskrona HK of the J20 SuperElit League last season, posting a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. He also had a 0.92 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in two games during the relegation round.

Round 6

Skyler McKenzie (Pictured Above)

Left Wing

Born Jan 20 1998 — Sherwood Park, ALTA

Height 5.07 — Weight 154 — Shoots L

The Jets selected Canadian forward Skyler McKenzie with the 198th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

McKenzie, 19, has played the last three seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Portland Winterhawks and was No. 6 overall draft pick. Cody Glass’s linemate in Portland. Last season he tallied a career-high 42 goals and 84 points in 72 games. He also had four goals and six points in nine playoff games.

Round 7

Croix Evingson


Born Aug 28 1997 — Anchorage, AK

Height 6.05 — Weight 210 — Shoots L

The Jets selected American defenseman Croix Evingson with the 211th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Evingson, 19, hails from Anchorage, Alaska. He played with the Shreveport Mudbugs last season, tallying 52 points (12G, 40A) in 59 games. His 40 assists and 52 points led all NAHL defenceman. He was named the NAHL’s Defenceman of the Year and selected to the NAHL’s All-NAHL Team, as well as the All-South Division Team. Evingson is committed to UMass-Lowell for next season.

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