JN AirMail: February 29, 2016

Art Middleton
February 29 2016 12:42PM

AirmailPlane

Happy Leap Year Day everyone! That's a thing right?

This week we look into Bryan's little skate with a fractured back, have a definitive word about which goalie will end up gone and look at which Jets will be playing international hockey in September for the World Cup.

Nick asked: Why did the Jets let Bryan Little skate in a practice and then a day later shut him down with a fractured vertebrae? Wasn't that a huge risk?

A huge risk? Not really. It's more like 'not ideal' that he spent some time on the ice with that kind of injury. The T6 vertebrae is located pretty much in the middle of the spine so there was no risk to his head or neck and given that there doesn't seem to be a need to go to the extreme of surgery he should be fine with some rest and rehab.

As for why it happened - and by 'it' we mean the fact he went back in the ice we mean and not how the injury itself happened - I admit I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but outside of being stiff and sore there might not have been any other indications that he had something to the degree that he had. He did wear a yellow non-contact jersey and even though there was reports that he bumped around in that practice, I don't believe there was any more risk to him getting hurt any further than there would have been in any other regular life situation.

Ross asked: If the Jets don't move a goalie at the deadline, will they after the season ends and if so, who?

We can eliminate Connor Hellebuyck from this discussion for sure. I would assume Miachel Hutchinson is the guy who will end up gone as his trade value is likely higher thanks to a much more agreeable contract and youth on his side. Ondrej Pavelec before this season started maybe had some value for a team looking for a starter, but the injury and the very sub-par play since his return from injury likely means the Jets will run with Pavs next season unless they can convince another team to take on 4.75 million worth of what may end up being backup goalie.

Stop laughing. If the Leafs can trade David Clarkson, there is hope for any horrible contracted player to be traded...

But in the meantime, don't get to attached to Hutch. If for no other reason that 'm sure the Jets still believe in Pavelec (how else do you explain how he was just handed back the starting goalie role without even a conditioning stint even with Hellebuyck playing as well as he was)

Paul asked: Which Jets do you see be playing in the World Cup coming up this fall?

We'll start finding out names for rosters tomorrow and I suspect if Jets fans want to cheer on players in the eight team tournament in September, they won't be rooting on anyone on Team Canada, Sweden or Finland.

I think we can assume that Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien are near locks for Team USA. Wheeler will be in a mid-6 forward role while Buff should get plenty of playing time as a top 4 defenseman as well as power play time. Ondrej Pavelec should make Team Czech Republic but will get a nice view of Petr Mrazek playing all the games from the bench. Alex Burmistrov is a long-shot (we mean long) to make Team Russia but his odds (and have we mentioned how long those odds really are?) will be helped at least a little bit by the fact that the KHL may be shutout of playing in the tournament.

As for the two "mashup" teams in the tournament. Team Europe will be made up of players from countries not named Russia, Finland, Sweden or Czech Republic and one has to think Nik Ehlers has at least an decent chance to make that team. Team North America could be a very interesting club in the tournament and the Jets should have up to three guys on that roster with Mark Scheifele who would likely be moved over to the wing, Jacob Trouba (although this past season may have taken him out of the discussion) and Connor Hellebuyck who could very well be that team's starting goalie and will battle John Gibson for time int he net.

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My name is Art Middleton and I too like hockey and sports and video games and social media and writing about all four of those things. You can follow my half-insane fanboy rantings on Twitter: @GameTimeArt
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