Every week or so, I have a few thoughts. This week I briefly at the new schedule and the development camp, wonder at some more roster upgrades, and try to find a silver lining in Justin Bourne rating Winnipeg the 28th best place to play in the NHL. A smattering of my synaptic output below.
The Development Camp has ended and all week I’ve had Scheifele’s and Lowry’s dancing in my brain while I wander around Prague and Stockholm (I know, poor me). Our friends over at Arctic Ice had Ryan Blight (@arby_18) at the camp this week, and he provided some great daily recaps. Definitely check him out on twitter and their site.
- A great deal of talk of the overall depth at this year’s camp. It’s music to the ears, and helped in no small part by the addition of 10 skill-first players in this year’s draft. Knuckle draggers and lesser lights slow practices down.
- As Ryan Blight notes, most of these players are between 2 and 5 years away from making an impact, and the team now is poor at best. While the roster has been managed this off-season to add up to $64M and 23 (or more) bodies already, we should keep in mind that prospects are assets for trading as well as developing. We won’t see 23 NHL quality players come out of the 47 players who attended the camp this year, and as Craig MacTavish is doing in Edmonton right now, there comes a time when a team has to clean the cupboards to make their team better. When is that day for the Jets?
- My belief is that they are still aiming at another two years of ‘rebuilding’ before they start turning the corner. They have the goalie in place to take a run at Connor McDavid. Will we see a rift with some of the Big 3 in this arbitration round that leaves the team hobbled in 2014/15?
The last time I suggested the roster was finished (not good, just full), Burmistrov left for the KHL a few hours later. So instead, let’s talk about how to continue to improve the roster, shall we?
- Former 6th Overall pick Gilbert Brule is making a comeback. I watched him with the Oilers – he’s a gritty, quick player with a heavy shot and reasonable offensive instincts. He claims to be in shape and re-focused. He could be a near-ideal 3rd liner with Frolik, can play centre or RW, and might even look good on a vertical line with Jokinen as he will go to the net for those floating wristers and can do puck retrieval as well. He could be a physical Kyle Wellwood.
- The roster has somewhat settled in terms of money and number of bodies, but the middle six still remains a bit of a question mark to my eye. Hemsky is still available and could be important powerplay player who would give the team enough depth to move Setoguchi to a 3rd line role on paper (obviously he will move around a bit with injuries and streaks etc) and give Frolik a fighting chance to score. That would let Noel run three full lines and sort of ignore his mostly useless 4th line.
- Also possibly available from the Oilers is Nick Schultz as the Oil just keep adding defencemen. The Jets blue line crowded too, but bad. Schultz would instantly become the speedy partner of Bogosian on the second line, and while his offence is limited, his skating makes him an ideal swarm defender and his first pass is adequate – certainly better than anyone outside the top 4 on the Jets. It would mean Trouba would start in the AHL (as may be the case regardless), with Clitsome and Stuart on the 3rd pairing and some combination of Postma, Kulda, Redmond, and Pardy in the press box.
- What would it take to get him? Likely a draft pick at this stage, as the Oilers have a crowded NHL roster and are shedding bodies rather than accumulating them. The 2nd moved for Setoguchi would have done it. Perhaps the Oilers would consider a 3rd for the sake of their jumbled and crowded roster, or perhaps they would take a 2nd in the Connor McDavid draft. One thing the Jets lack are prospects who aren’t due to turn pro, as their 2013 draft included a number of over-agers.
- Of course, with three pending arbitration cases, my hopes for a twist in the off-season agenda might be a case of being careful what I wish for.
- Former Jets still unsigned: Ron Hainsey, Nik Antropov, and Kyle Wellwood. Obviously the team no longer has money for Hainsey, but I’m on record as saying I think both he and Wellwood remain useful pieces for this team in transition. They’re not Ray Bourque and Daniel Briere, but they’re better than some of the options the Jets have currently.
Winnipeg ranked 28th most desirable NHL market by Justin Bourne
Check out his article here from the perspective of a UFA player.
Specifically, the Jets are filed under the heading ‘What are my KHL options?’ and I think we know the answer for at least Alex Burmistrov.
Bourne is careful to note the passion of the fans as a plus, but still puts Winnipeg behind Florida and Phoenix (okay, they have sun, I guess?), Buffalo, and the Islanders. Ugh.
The thing with these rankings is that they are Always about winning most of all. Is Pittsburgh a nice city? Something tells me it’s not the 5th nicest on the continent (that something being a joke at their expense in Arrested Development). Detroit at 11th?…
So chin up, Winnipeg. Have faith that after 2 more years of being awful, we might land Connor McDavid and suddenly become ‘a young, skilled team’ and a desirable place to play. (Somewhere in Calgary, Book of Loob is shouting, "2 years!? I said we could do it in 2 weeks!")
The New Schedule
And the paralyzing fear begins…
(We’ll have a more in-depth break down of the new schedule out shortly.)
The Jets open against the new look Oilers on October 1st. I’m really looking forward to this game because either the Oilogosphere will widely pronounce their new team direction and front office group an abject failure upon losing, or call it a dynasty upon winning. Things are tense in that city after losing for so long. If we’re really lucky, Dustin Byfuglien will try this power move:
- The Jets are tied for the fewest back-to-back games in the league with just 10. We looked at how Pavelec did in those back-to-backs, and it was horrifying. So maybe this is a bit of good luck for the Jets.
- Just as a reminder, the Jets Division (now revealed to be called the Central) also includes: Chicago, Minnesota, St Louis, Columbus, Nashville, and Dallas. 29 of our 82 games come against those teams. Mercifully, Chicago is the team we only play 4 times (the rest are played 5 times each).
- So once again, Winnipeg has a favourable schedule given its placement. Still, the teams the Jets will face are much better than last year, and we have to be doubtful that the Jets are up to the task.