Like father, like son.
You may have heard of Jackson Keane’s dad, Mike. Currently the Assistant of Player Development for the Winnipeg Jets, played in over 1100 games in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, winning three Stanley Cups in the process. His son, Jackson, is very similar with his style of play, using his speed and feisty energy to get into the heads of opponents.
Jackson was drafted by the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, but despite going in the fourth round of the 2012 WHL Draft, Keane decided to take his chances with the college route instead. Keane played with the Winnipeg Monarchs during his bantam years before making the jump to the Winnipeg Wild of the Manitoba Midget League for the 2012-13 season. During the campaign, Keane really proved to be a dominant goal scorer at that level, finishing third in league scoring with 31 goals to go along with 45 points. His play earned him a spot with the Winnipeg Blues, a Manitoba Junior Hockey League team that once held home to Tyler Arnason, Garnet Exelby, Ryan Garbutt and Sheldon Kennedy.
Despite being born in Denver, CO, Keane played his minor hockey in Canada and thus made him eligible to play for Team Canada in the past. During the 2013-2014 season, his first with the Blues, Keane represented Canada West at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, putting up three points in five games while in a limited role for the most part. This season, Keane saw action with Canada West again, but was only able to record a single assist. The point count was misleading, as many people believe Keane was consistently one of the better players in each game, even though his team finished dead last when it was all said and done.
Keane is small at just 5’9, but he’s still super quick and won’t shy away from throwing the body. He’s also been getting better with his play away from the puck, as evident with Team Canada at the World Junior A Challenge earlier this season. Keane is keen on making smart plays in the offensive zone, which was one of the reasons why he was named CJHL Prospect Game player of the match for Team West last month.
Keane is expected to play another season of junior before heading off to the University of North Dakota for the 2016-2017 season. A project player, Keane will need a few years of seasoning before making an effective jump to the pro game. His dad, Mike, had a very similar route to this point as Jackson, having played for the Winnipeg Blues during his Junior A career. This time, however, Jackson is on the radar of NHL scouts while Mike went undrafted many moons ago, later joining the Habs on a free agent deal. The same could happen to Jackson, but regardless, he can only go up from here.
Steven is a junior hockey reporter for the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and also focuses on international hockey for his website, TheHockeyHouse.net. You can follow Steven on twitter @StevenEllisNHL.