The Winnipeg Jets have a plethora of defenseman on their roster, as well as in their system. We will look into the top 5 defense prospects that the Jets have under their control. Some you may have heard of, some maybe not. While not all these players will reach the Jets, some may end up on the Moose or even be traded in some big club deals. Let’s take a look at what is in their cupboard

5. Artemi Knyazev

Artemi Knyazev is the fifth ranked D-man on this list because he just has not shown much promise at threatening for an NHL job. Being 23, he is starting to enter the phase where he is no longer a prospect and he is what he is. Knyazev was acquired by the Jets for Leon Gawanke in the summer of 2023. When acquired, the talk was he may be better than Gawanke. While both of them are playing over seas now, you have to think the Jets do have a better chance of getting value out of the deal.

Knyazev has shown he can play at the AHL level. He is a great two way defender and a great skater. While playing in 141 AHL games he has accumulated 61 points while being a solid defender. He was on struggling teams in the Barracuda and Moose the last two years so the plus minus really do not paint a good picture of his play. While the Jets were hoping to get a quality defensive prospect, it is looking more like he will be a depth defenseman at best. He is still only 23 so there is time for growth but he would have to break out to pass players on the depth chart.

Does He Make It To The Jets: Slim to no chance. At this time you probably will see him in the navy but there will be a Moose on the front of the jersey. He may get a shot with injuries to the Jets, but it is unlikely. More than likely he ends up staying over seas.

4. Simon Lundmark

Simon Lundmark is a great defender. He currently is on the Moose and has been for the past two seasons. While he has not put up great offensive players he has chipped in here and there. Lundmark has been a solid defender for the Moose. He does everything well defensively, but he lacks the shining star quality. The type of player you won’t notice, but in this situation it is a good thing. Every scout has said his positioning is elite. When being a defender that is the best compliment you could get. Even some NHL players do not have people say that about them.

When it comes to his place in the organization though he has some players he will have to jump over to crack an NHL roster. The Jets back end is in a bit of a log jam, so much that they have Nate Schmidt, Logan Stanley, and Colin Miller rotating in and out of the lineup. While it is a great problem to have for the Jets, it is not so great for Lundmark. You have to think that he may look for a NHL job elsewhere down the line if he can’t get on the Jets blueline

Does He Make It To The Jets: Look to 2027 to start seeing his name in the conversation. At that point, he will have been fully developed, and it will be a matter of if he can win a job from someone else in the organization.

3. Dmitri Kuzmin

The Winnipeg Jets 2021 3rd rounder has been doing well in his first year of pro in North America. Dmitri Kuzmin has been playing games in the AHL and ECHL this year. He has shown that he is still figuring out his place in the pro ranks. Kuzmin definitely does not belong in the ECHL as he lights it up when he goes down there. He does struggle a little when in the AHL, but you could call it learning. While in the ECHL he has 7 points in 21 games, in the AHL he has played 14 games and racked up 3 points. He is obviously a good prospect that just needs development.

Kuzmin is not afraid to pinch down to extend the offensive zone time. He loves to play loose and take chances. While at this time it may cost his team when he does, you can see that he will learn when and where to do it. Josh Morrissey has gone through the same learning curve as Kuzmin is going through right now. Not saying that Kuzmin can be another Morrissey as he just has more skill than Kuzmin, but not a bad role model to look up to.

Does He Make It To The Jets: Maybe, he could be moved in a deal as he is years away. 2028 is when he should be ready to step up though. If he continues to develop the way he is, he should be a solid second paring, offensive minded, defenseman.

2. Elias Salomonsson

Salomonsson is a the best defensive defenseman prospect the Jets have. He was drafted in 2022 and you could argue that he should have went sooner. Elias Salomonsson was one of the smoothest skating defensemen in the draft. With his size and skating ability, he could be the shut down defenseman that Jets need. Well the problem is that he will, for starters not be ready for quite some time, so they will have something to look forward to. He has room to grow, literally, as he is only 19 years old!

While he is currently playing over seas, you could see him make the leap to North America this year to play for the Moose. If he is not here by the end of the season, he should make his debut for the Moose next year. Salomonsson will be a welcome addition to the Moose blueline as Heinola should be on the move next year so the Moose will need defense. You can never get enough of big strong defensive minded defensemen.

Does He Make It To The Jets: 99.9% yes. When is the question. He will most likely not be rushed as the Jets have a tendency of overripening their prospects so look for 2027 at the earliest.

1. Ville Heinola

VILLE HEINOLA!! Heinola has arguably been ready for a couple years now. He made his NHL debut back in 2019 and has been developing in the AHL for the most part ever since. Rick Bowness said after the training camp that Heinola had earned a spot on the Jets roster. Unfortunately for him though, he was injured in the final preseason game. He has been waiting in the AHL for his shot to solidify an NHL job. This year has just not been the year for him, from the injury he suffered to the Jets just not having injuries on the back end, knock on wood.

Heinola is the offensive defenseman that the Jets have been wanting. Morrissey has broken out as a number 1 defenseman in the last year offensively which has made the Heinola’s insertion into the lineup less necessary. Compared to a couple years back when the Jets D-core would not put up any points, the Jets backend has been contributing. Heinola has proven in the AHL that he can put up points consistently. He just creates offense where ever he goes. The excitement in Jets land for his arrival is warranted and should be fun to watch when he gets to the NHL.

Does He Make It To The Jets: ASAP! He will be the first call up from the Moose. He may be up for the Jets this year and for the playoffs as an extra as the Moose are more than likely not making a deep playoff run this year. If not this season, Heinola will be in the NHL next year whether that be on the Jets or another team. The man can only have so much patience.


If their is one place that needs improvement for the Jets it is defense prospects. The fact that Artemi Knyazev is number 5 on the list shows the lack of depth that the Jets have when it comes to prospects. They should address this in the upcoming drafts, but they also do have some unsigned players that may turn into promising pieces as well. All in all the Jets have some good prospects, but no one that knocks your socks off. Should be fun to see some of these players in the future!

Make sure you check out the Jets Goaltending Prospects Report article and stay tuned for the Jets Forward Prospects Report as well as other NHL content on Area 51 Sports Network.