The Winnipeg Jets have decided to send a couple of top prospects from their minor league club to the WHL. Brad Lambert and Chaz Lucius are headed to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Portland Winterhawks, respectively. This is huge news for the junior clubs, who get to add difference-making talent for their stretch drives.
Lambert, 19, was the 30th overall selection in 2022 and made quite an impact in the preseason before eventually being assigned to the Manitoba Moose. Despite having played two seasons of professional hockey in Finland before coming to North America this year, Lambert has struggled in the AHL, scoring just two goals and three points in 14 games. Those frustrations continued at the World Juniors where he was only able to record a single goal for Finland, even in his third go-round at the tournament.
Still, he should be a dominant player for Seattle as he moves back to junior hockey. The experience he has in Finland and at the AHL level will only serve to make him more effective in the WHL, and Lambert is joining an incredibly talented club that has its sights set on a Memorial Cup.
To do that, they’ll have to get past the Winterhawks, though, who may be adding the more effective player of the two. Lucius, 19, was the 18th overall pick in 2021 and just showed how good he could be at the World Juniors, recording five goals and seven points for the U.S. squad. That comes after 12 games with the Manitoba Moose, his first taste of professional hockey after one season of college hockey. It’s not very often you see the NCAA->AHL->CHL route for prospects, but Lucius is going to get an opportunity to play huge minutes and help a Winterhawks team that is just a few points behind Seattle for first place in the Western Conference.
These assignments could be game-changing moments for both franchises, who recently saw the third-place Kamloops Blazers (hosts of this year’s Memorial Cup) send a huge package to the Everett Silvertips for Olen Zellweger. It’s an arms race in the WHL, and it should make for outstanding hockey down the stretch.