By Andrey Osadchenko
The Winnipeg Jets weren’t projected to make it to the play-offs this year. And although Winnipeg has only managed five wins in their first 14 games, they’re still only four points away from the 5th spot in the conference. The battle for the post-season has become a little tougher recently however with Tobias Enstrom, Eric Fehr, Ron Hainsey and Derek Meech out. Here’s a look at three guys that should be considered the most likely to get a nod.
Position – Defense
Height – 6’3
Weight – 196
Current stats – 2+6=8 points, ‘-3’ in 10 games
A Red Deer native has a WHL-ish size, Postma is not your everyday normal stay-at-home defenseman from out West. The former 7th round pick spent his junior career in Swift Current and Calgary, establishing himself as an excellent offensive d-man. He’s currently in his third pro season and there’s a reason to believe that it’s going to be big one for him. As a junior, it took Postma several years to emerge as a viable offensive option, with his most productive season coming in 2008-09 when he scored 23 goals and 84 points in 70 regular season games (followed by 5 goals and 13 points in 18 play-off match-ups).
That year he lead all WHL defensemen in goals, assists, points and plus-minus. He struggled somewhat in his first year as a pro but still managed to put up some decent numbers for a rookie – 15+14=29 in 63 games. Last season brought his points total to 45 in 69 games. The hope is Postma’s pro career follows a path similar to his junior experience.
He’ a very good skater for his size and his only real shortcoming is that he may be careless with the puck from time to time. He doesn’t get physical often, not that he needs to – he positions himself well, while his skating allows him to compete with just about anybody. If the Jets want to boost their powerplay, Postma is the guy. With Tobias Enstrom sidelined with broken collarbone, Paul is probably the Jets’ best bet.
Position – Left Wing
Height – 6’3
Weight – 205
Current stats – 6+1=7 points, ‘+2’ in 11 games
Klingberg is 20 years old and in his second season in the AHL. Scouts have anticipated great things from Klingberg for a long time now, so the fact that the Thrashers picked him in early in the second round back in 2009 wasn’t shocking at all. Before coming to North America he spent a full season with Frolunda in the Swedish Elitserien. Even though he played on the 4th line averaging just 8 minutes per game, Klingberg found a way to score 6 goals and get 13 points in 42 games.
Carl has size and skill to go along with an offensive spark. Obviously he’s still young and lacks experience but shows excellent hockey sense, ability to fight in front of the net and skating. It comes as no surprise he’s currently a leading scorer for the IceCaps and should be considered as the #1 call-up among the forwards.
Position – Defense
Height – 6’2
Weight – 195
Current stats – 0+2=2 points, ‘+2’ in 9 games
As of Thursday the Jets were tied for 4th worst in goals against with 39 in 12 games and are 22nd in PK with just 78.8%. That definitely calls for a reliable defenseman and 23-year-old Latvian should be seriously considered. Arturs has a big frame and doesn’t shy away from using it. He also possesses a hard slap-shot that will be handy on the powerplay. Besides, Kulda has already had some taste of The Show, having played 6 games, in which he picked up 2 assists.
As for other valauable experience, it’s fair to assume it was the season of 2009-10 when he played for the Chicago Wolves on the same defensive pairing with the legendary Chris Chelios. That season he had 6+19=25 points and was +47. However, he struggled last season without the aging legend and was only -1 after 69 games.
The Jets need to do something about their defense and Kulda might just be the answer. Some scouts argue that when it comes to Arturs speed is an issue, but it sure didn’t look like it this season.
(Andrey is the Nations Russian correspondant. Follow him on twitter at here)