Photo by clydeorama
Final Roster Cut-Down is Monday, with final waiver submissions due by noon eastern on Sunday. With the Jets’ final loss of the pre-season in the books, we have a weekend of speculation ahead of us.
After sending down Edward Pasquale on Wednesday, the Jets have 26 remaining in camp – 15 forwards, 9 defencemen, and 2 netminders. While we could wait and see whom the Jets choose, I think it’s a little more fun to stick our necks out and make some predictions.
Thursday’s night game against Boston included more minutes of analysts talking about how Trouba is ready for the NHL then the 24 he actually played. The only other player to get such a media push has been James Wright. I’m going to call them locks.
The team has 7 defencemen with one-way contracts plus Trouba, so I bet they start the year with 8 defenders and 13 forwards.
Postma has been given huge pre-season minutes, and had some positive verbal. To my eye, he remains the same defenceman – offensively capable, but not overwhelming so, big but not strong, a fine skater who lacks control and power, and a mistake time-bomb. His gaps are sloppy, his in-zone defensive play lacks awareness, and he does really basic stuff wrong too often – like which way to pivot off the offensive blue line (play inside to outside, Paul!). Postman-enthusiasts point to his impressive RelCorsi number (shot attempts for minus shot attempts against relative to the rest of team). In reality, defencemen who started 61% of their shifts in the offensive zone against easier competition typically do well at that. Tomas Kaberle almost doubled Postma’s RelCorsi under similar circumstances. That was a small number of games, though. How about Stefan Elliot? He was cut from a divisional opponent for a similar season. TJ Brennan? Cut from two teams last year. Peter Harrold? Yeah, you get the picture.
All of that said, it’s Zach Redmond who has the two-way contract, and if Trouba has his job anyway, I suspect Zach will be headed to Atlantic Canada. Then again, I’ve been whining about that since Postma was given a two-year, one-way contract in the summer. So maybe I just lack imagination.
At forward, Cormier is an obvious cut for contract as well as performance issues. I will note that against other AHL level players, Cormier looks much better than he did in his 30 minutes of NHL ice time last season.
This is where things get interesting – the final cut. There are a number of ways this could break, including the previously un-thinkable possibility that Scheifele goes down to the Rock. He’s been fairly flat in pre-season, and almost everyone has struggled to find a kind word about his performance. The skills are obvious, but he may have played his way into some more development time.
Prior to camp, I thought Halischuk may be at risk due to his two-way contract, but stellar penalty killing and a several memorable scoring chances mean he’s likely safe. And if so, it leaves Thorburn and Peluso as the obvious possible cuts as the most limited players on the roster.
Thorburn, Slater, and Tangradi had an effective (if sloppy) game again the Bruins, and it may have thrown a wrench in the team’s plans to supplant Thor with Peluso. Don’t get me wrong – one (bad) goal against Edmonton and a nice pass against Boston don’t make Thorburn an especially good player. And Peluso did get tons of minutes this pre-season, including on skill lines where he was an awkward mess but managed to take and make a few passes. Both are making NHL money this year (which Peluso was handed despite a resume that includes just 5 games last year after being waived by another team…). My gut tells me they stick with Thor due to experience and heart and yada yada yada… the team’s motto could be ‘We Fear Change.’
My bet for Chevy’s cuts: Redmond, Cormier, Peluso
If I Ran This Team…
Now the fun part – if I ran this team, who would I send down? You’re right, I would call up Petan to play with Petan and Petan if the world would conform to my fantasies, so I’m going with a modicum of pragmatism.
Honestly, I’d cut Trouba and Redmond on defence and go with 14 forwards. Maybe Trouba is ready. Maybe he’s Hockey Jesus. But why put him against St Louis and Chicago with a poor goalie and limited firepower for his first taste of professional hockey? What are we trying to prove? He’s 19 years old. Let him play in the AHL to start. Injuries are going to happen, and he can be the very first call-up, I promise Jets fans!
As for Redmond, I think he is likely the better hockey player than Postma even now. Still, he could stand to add to his foot quickness, and had a scary injury that kept him off the ice for a very long time. He’s not waiver eligible, and apparently there are teams interested in Postma. I’d set Postma up for the pump and dump with loads of PP time and sheltered even strength minutes and watch both Trouba and Redmond closely. If either exceed expectations or a decent offer comes in… well, you know the rest.
Cormier would be my forward cut. I’d also watch the waiver wire carefully with a mind for replacing all of Thorburn, Peluso, and yes, even James Wright. But then, that’s why I’ll never be a GM. Apparently every team needs tall people who spend half the game standing still looking lost and the other half skating parallel to the boards.
My Cuts: Trouba, Redmond, Cormier… and then trade Postma and make a waiver claim? I got caught up in the power.