Taking stock of the kid corps

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Kosmachuk leads crop of  Jets’ prospects who could join IceCaps next year

They’ll get shots at making the parent Winnipeg Jets at the big club’s training camp in the fall, but most of the youngsters on the St. John’s IceCaps’ roster during these American Hockey League Calder Cup playoffs can reasonably expected to be back with the IceCaps in the fall.
Adam Lowry, JC Lipon and Brenden Kichton, who all have played every game for the IceCaps this post-season, will be entering the second years of their NHL entry-level contracts (ELCs) in 2014-15. So will be defencemen Julian Melchiori, who hasn’t yet seen action in the playoffs because of injury, but looks like he will be available, if needed, for Friday’s Game 6 of the IceCaps’ Eastern Conference semifinal against the Norfolk Admirals.

Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmahuck, seen here during a pre-season game, turned 20 in January and he’s already signed by the Jets, meaning he’s ready to turn pro later this year, likely with the IceCaps.

St. John’s leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading in to that contest at Mile One Centre. On Thursday, the IceCaps and Admirals shared a charter flight back to St. John’s from Norfolk, Va., where the Admirals extended the series with a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night.

Forwards Austen Brassard and Ryan Olsen, along with goalie Jussi Olkinuora, have been among the extra bodies for St. John’s in the playoffs and also fall into the likely-to-return category. So does netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who hasn’t officially been on the IceCaps’ roster, but was around the team before joining the United States entry at the world hockey championship, being played in Belarus.

Brassard and Olkinuora have finished the first years of their initial pro deals, while Hellebuyck and Olsen — who have just wound up their college and major junior careers, respectively — will see their ELCs kick in next season.

But they are not the only ones still involved in post-season action — or who are at least close to it — pegged to play for the IceCaps in 2014-15.

If you’re following the 2014 Memorial Cup, beginning Friday night in London, Ont., you should take note of right-winger Scott Kosmachuk of the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm, the lone Jets’ prospect competing in the Canadian major junior championship tournament.

Kosmachuk turned 20 in January and he’s already signed by the Jets, meaning he’s ready to turn pro later this year, likely with the IceCaps.

See KOSMACHUK, page C2

Winnipeg’s third-round draft pick from 2012, Kosmachuk put up impressive numbers in Guelph this season, with 49 goals (second-most in the OHL) 101 points (third-highest in the league) and a plus-52 rating (tied for third overall) in 68 regular-season games, In 20 playoff games, the six-foot, 189-pound Toronto native added 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points, third-best in the league.

The Storm begin their Memorial Cup schedule Saturday night against the Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

Notes: The Jets have a number of other players signed to entry-level contracts, but who will not be age-eligible to play in the AHL next season. They include smooth-skating defenceman Josh Morrissey, who has suited up regularly for the IceCaps in these playoffs; teenage goaltender Eric Comrie, who is on the IceCaps’ playoff roster; Western Hockey League forward Axel Blomqvist, signed as an undrafted free agent; and forward Nic Petan, who played for Canada at the most recent world junior championship and finished second in WHL scoring this season … Petan came close to playing in the Memorial Cup, but his Portland Winterhawks were knocked off by the Oil Kings in a seven-game WHL final … There is a slight IceCaps connection on the Oil Kings, in that Edmonton’s lineup includes left-winger Edgars Kulda, younger brother of former St. John’s defenceman Arturs Kulda, who played in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League this season …

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Organizations: IceCaps, Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League Oil Kings Kontinental Hockey League

Geographic location: Norfolk, Va., United States, Belarus London, Ont. Guelph Toronto Canada Edmonton

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