January 16 2014 01:01PM
The Jets have made two unexpected roster management decisions since Paul Maurice was hired as the new Head Coach. We knew there would be changes, from lineup adjustments to structural changes. But in just a few days, the organization has altered course on two of its prospects formerly lost in the wind and it seems Maurice might be the reason.
Telegin was a former 4th round pick who beat his draft pedigree almost immediately with a jump in Junior scoring in his draft year +1, and again in his overage year. Andrey Osadchenko interviewed Telegin about his increase in scoring in the summer of 2011, and had a follow up interview on Jets Nation a year later.
What we learned was that the young man was working actively at developing his offence and that his increasing profile as a scoring player was due in part to opportunity and his chance to play an offensive game. He won a Silver medal at the World Junior Championships in 2012 and some began comparing him to Alex Radulov.
His first pro year fell flat of the hype, however, with just 10 points in 33 games before losing the rest of the season to a major concussion. His arrival at the Young Stars Tournament was unexpected as reports on his health were inconsistent, but he looked like an all-world talent in his return to the ice.
#52 Ivan Telegin: A welcome back game for Telegin that couldn't have gone better. Telegin's speed was on display all night as he pushed the pace, controlled the neutral zone, and took he blue line with ease. Not only his straight ahead speed, but his transition skating is elite at this tournament. He changes directions at speed and generates power through turns and pivots. Played in all three disciplines effectively. In one shift with 55 and 72, he took a crossing pass from Kosmachuk and put a one-touch pass into space for Scheifele that suggested he was not struggling with rust at all. Occassionally he tried to do too much himself, and looked to attack first and pass second.
The Jets' training camp and pre-season didn't have a lot of rhyme or reason to it from a fan perspective, and his strong performance came in extremely limited minutes. He was sent away to the AHL, but refused to report. The team suspended him, and it seemed like it was going to be another case of a lost Russian prospect, despite his years in North American Junior hockey.
In Osadchenko's interview from 2012, Telegin mentioned that his then fiance lived in Moscow and that his parents and family still lived in Novokuznetsk. Maurice mentioned in an interview about his time in Russia, and again in his opening press conference with the Jets' media that we misunderstand Russian players. He explained his growing sensitivity to what they go through to play hockey here.
A day after Maurice's hiring, Telegin's suspension was lifted and the team assigned him to the KHL.
After a strong training camp, Klingberg seemed like a possible bottom six option for the Jets. His massive frame (6'3", 205lbs listed), strong skating skills, and two-way play seemed like a reasonable bet to compete with James Wright, Eric Tangradi, and even later Chris Thorburn for a left wing spot at the end of the roster.
His 78 points in 165 games for the IceCaps has never inspired much hope for a bigger NHL role, despite his pedgree as a former 34th overall pick. He currently leads the team in plus/minus for whatever that's worth, and has 18 points in 33 games. Despite his draft position and on-ice qualities, Klingberg has only had 7 previous games of NHL experience, and there remains a question about whether he can be effective in the show.
With his entry level contract ending after this season, the orgnaization has to make a decision about Klingberg. Injuries to Kane and Halischuk, and a generally thin roster on the wing has given the team plenty of opportunity to bring Klingberg to Winnipeg, but it wasn't until after Maurice played Thorburn as a top-9 left winger for one game that the team made the move. No team would ever say it out loud, but we can wonder if Maurice said he'd like to see some other options.
It's a limited window for Klingberg to show he belongs. Traditionally, the Jets would put Klingberg on the fourth line and send him out for 6 or 8 shifts until that window closed. Evaluation would remain incomplete, as the team has done to handful of propsects before him. The next challenge is whether Maurice will give him a fair shake to see if he can deliver.
It's been a very short time since Paul Maurice took over the Jets bench, but these two decisions seem contrary to how the organization viewed Telegin and Klingberg even a week ago. With so many roster experiments in 2013, it's a wonder that neither of these men were given opportunities on the major club previously. We talk often of the 'common sense' lineup that Noel refused to ice. Is it possible Maurice is already moving toward that common sense?
Neither young men are Sidney Crosby, but for a team that speaks of the future and building from within, lost prospects from poor evaluation or poor asset management is unacceptable. We can hope that Telegin and Klingberg will be handled effectively in the coming months.