VANCOUVER—The Winnipeg Jets selected Finnish defenceman Ville Heinola with the 20th pick at the NHL draft on Friday.
The 18-year-old played 34 games with Lukko Rauma in Finland last season, scoring two goals and adding 12 assists. He added a goal and an assist over seven playoff games.
The Jets came close to missing out on the first round for the second year in a row after general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff dealt his team’s pick to the New York Rangers for centre Kevin Hayes at the trade deadline. The Jets got the pick back this week in a trade that sent defenceman Jacob Trouba to the Rangers.
Winnipeg also parted ways with Hayes, handing his negotiating rights to the Philadelphia Flyers this month in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. Hayes went on to sign a seven-year, $50-million (all dollars U.S.) deal with the Flyers.
While the Jets finished the regular season second in the Central Division with a 40-30-5 record, the team flopped in the playoffs. The Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues disposed of the Jets in six games in the first round.
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Last year, the Jets missed out on the first round after Cheveldayoff gave the pick to the Blues for Paul Stastny. The centre went on to sign a three-year, $19.5-million deal with the Vegas Golden Knights in free agency.
Winnipeg’s first pick of 2018 was David Gustafsson, 60th overall. The centre spent last year playing in Sweden and signed an entry-level contract with the Jets this month.
The Jets will have four more opportunities to add to their prospect pool, starting with the 51st pick on Saturday.