November 22 2013 06:10PM
After a mostly poor showing in his first three NHL games this season, Zach Redmond has been re-assigned to the AHL IceCaps. His surprising but brief debut a year ago left many with high hopes for his season, but contract considerations and injury kept him off the NHL roster and off the ice for most of the year.
The move comes after Mark Stuart successfully took part in today's physical practice and was cleared by trainers for the game against Minnesota Saturday afternoon.
Is Redmond's opportunity over?
Finally Getting a Chance
We discussed the impact of injury and timing to Redmond's shot at an NHL job. There was a brief window of opportunity early in the season, but his own knee injury kept him out of contention. The team took Ellerby off waivers and it seemed like he might have missed his train.
But things got worse for the Jets. Redmond got his chance to play against Calgary and Chicago after injuries hit right handed defencemen Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, and Jacob Trouba, as well as switch-hitter Mark Stuart.
In the off-season, I suggested that Zach Redmond may already be a better hockey player than Paul Postma, with whom he was in competition for an NHL job, and who already has twice as many professional games under his belt at the same age. But by pre-season, it seemed Redmond's skating was more impressive in memory than reality, and he did little to convince anyone he should get an NHL shot. Non-waiver eligible, the team sent him away.
With Jacob Trouba skating with the team, and Mark Stuart cleared by the training staff, Redmond is once again the odd-man out. Yet, Melchiori remains with the Jets, making six left-handed defenders on the active roster. With Bogosian and Postma on the long-term IR, the team still has a problem with balance.
How Did He Do?
A mixture of awkward play and bad luck means it's hard to write a positive review of Redmond's first three NHL games of the season. In fact, games against Minnesota, Calgary, and Chicago were just his 3rd, 4th, and 5th games of the season at any level, so perhaps we can blame conditioning and knee strength for some of his struggles.
We saw with our eyes a player who was at odds with his edges, making slow pivots and hesitant decisions. The team gave him a healthy zone start advantage, almost 4 minutes of powerplay time, but less than 36 total minutes through three games and almost exclusively with Adam Pardy.
Nevertheless, through his first two games he was a positive corsi player and was on the ice for 10 shots for and 8 against at even strength. He also hadn't been scored on. It's not an All-Star resume, but it was a solid showing from the third pairing.
But against Chicago, things went down hill in a big way. Lit up for 2 goals against, Redmond played the fewest even strength minutes among Jets defencemen but still managed to be on for 10 shot attempts against and just 2 for in 10:44 of 5 on 5 time. Redmond joined Al Montoya on the list of players who had their hopes dashed and minutes slashed as a result of playing Chicago.
Redmond wasn't the reason for that loss to Chicago, and a three-game skid can hardly be blamed on the defender who played the fewest minutes. But that's just Redmond's luck. The team wants to shake up the roster, and he remains the most vulnerable to shake loose.
Will He Be Back?
It seems strange the team would bring back a left-handed defenceman and send away one of just two right-handed ones from the roster. No doubt, the Jets want Redmond to see more game action and get his legs under him.
At the same time, Trouba's nearing return will no doubt mean a ticket east for Melchiori as well, and give the team 4 defencemen capable of playing the right side. Only further injury to the right side of the Jets defnce before Bogosian or Postma are ready will give Redmond another opportunity.
Mark Stuart Returns
Mark Stuart took part in a physical practice today, the second time since being placed on Injured Reserve on November 1st. His hip injury actually game in a game on October 18th, when he crashed into the net in the Jets' 4-3 SO win over St Louis and could not return. He did, however, play four more games before being placed on the injured list.
Surprisingly, Stuart was a better defender in those four games while injured than we had seen from him earlier in the year. His more limited range forced him to make more conservative decisions. We saw his corsi numbers go up and his chances against go down. He wasn't beaten for an even strength goal in any of those four games. Still, his last game - again against St Louis - was by far his worst of that series.
It's hard to know which player fans can expect to get back, as Stuart's irratic decision making and extremely poor puck skills had him ranked 3rd worst in the entire NHL for corsi percentage before the injury. Saw what you will about corsi numbers, but Mark Stuart was spending all his time in own end defending shots against. That's a recipe for losing.
As much as Zach Redmond struggled to make a positive difference, it's not obvious that Mark Stuart will be an improvement.