Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports
The Winnipeg Jets will be without prized prospect Nic Petan, 20, on Saturday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at the MTS Centre.
Petan, who has mostly played fourth-line minutes for the Jets with occasional stints of power-play time, will miss the contest with an undisclosed illness. He’ll be replaced in the lineup by journeyman Patrice Cormier, still just 25-years-old, who is a Thrashers holdover from the Ilya Kovalchuk trade of yesteryear.
While Petan is a key part of Winnipeg’s future, he hasn’t been all that effective on the fourth line this season. He’s flashed moments of offensive brilliance, particularly on the power play, but the fourth line has been at its best without him in the lineup frankly.
With Cormier drawing in to centre Chris Thorburn and Anthony Peluso, the Jets’ fourth line will have its most traditional ‘energy line’ look of the year. Thorburn and Pelsuo have actually performed relatively well in the very, very limited burn that Jets coach Paul Maurice generally doles out to his fourth-forward group.
It’ll be interesting to see how Cormier fares in a fourth-line role. Though he hasn’t generally played centre, his face-off winning percentage has been very good in extremely limited action for his career. And frankly the fourth line can’t play that much worse than it has…
“It’s going to be fun,” Cormier told Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, speaking on the subject of drawing back into the lineup. “Obviously, I still work for that and want to play in this league.
“I’d usually be more nervous, but I’m just excited,” Cormier continued. “You never know when your next chance is going to be.”
I’d suspect that Cormier will have to play pretty damn well if he hopes to supplant Andrew Copp at the club’s permanent fourth-line centre – Copp, by the way is going to skate on Monday and appears to be getting close to a return. Playing well enough to remain with the Jets as a depth forward while Petan is returned to the American League seems like a more realistic goal for Cormier, though.
The fact is, based on his usage and performance so far, Petan may be better off helping the Manitoba Moose get going once he returns to full health, rather than wasting away at the end of Winnipeg’s bench.