Could Nikolaj Ehlers see some NHL action this season?
It’s unlikely, particularly following the Halifax Mooseheads’ 4-3 overtime victory on Friday. That win – in which Ehlers managed three points – gave the Mooseheads a 3-2 lead in their current postseason series against the Shawinigan Cataractes. Jets general manager. Whatever the likelihood, Kevin Cheveldayoff was in Halifax to watch Ehlers play on April 1 (we originally thought the Mooseheads account was just kidding), and the Jets would appear to be pondering the possibility, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman.
Here’s what Friedman said about Ehlers’ status during the Headlines segment on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast:
Kevin Cheveldayoff was in Halifax this week to watch (Ehlers) play. His Mooseheads have now jumped ahead 3-2 in the series, so all of this might be moot, it led to questions of would the Jets call him up if his season ended? They haven’t made that decision, but they still have two (non-emergency recalls).
The Jets wouldn’t need to use any of their American Hockey League non-emergency recalls to get Ehlers on the roster once the Mooseheads’ season is over. Ehlers is signed to an entry-level contract that is at risk to slide this year, so he’s the Jets’ club’s 90-man reserve list. Once his major junior season is over he’ll have the status of a loaned player whose season has ended, and be eligible to be added to the NHL roster directly without the use of a non-emergency recall.
It would appear unlikely that Ehlers would head to the American Hockey League, seeing as how the St. John’s IceCaps are going to miss the playoffs by a wide margin.
Could Ehlers help the Jets this season? Surely the hot shot Danish-born speedster – who has managed 100 points in 51 games in QMJHL action this season – would be one of Winnipeg’s 12 best forwards on skill alone (sorry Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn), but he’s not exactly cut out for bottom-six duty. On a team deep enough that they’re playing bona fide top-six forward Jiri Tlusty on their fourth line at the moment, adding Ehlers would seem a bit redundant.
Redundancies can be useful in the NHL postseason of course, especially with the black-and-blue style Paul Maurice’s Jets employ. You could also make the argument that Ehlers could benefit from simply being around NHL players as something of a black ace down the stretch and into the postseason.
Expecting him to play any sort of role in Winnipeg this season still seems unlikely in the extreme though.