The Winnipeg Jets were bitten by the injury bug, and it spread throughout the locker room, leaving seven names on the injury list. For the first time in the short history of Jets 2.0, however, it hasn’t resulted in a complete implosion. Call-ups from the farm have held the fort and the coaching staff will soon be faced with some more decisions as sick bay begins to empty out and the injured veterans begin to return to game shape.
We won’t be seeing Bryan Little or Shawn Matthias for some time yet, as they are on injured reserve until at least the end of November. Likewise, Joel Armia is out long term (reports say 6-8 weeks with an MCL injury), but veteran forwards Drew Stafford and, more pressingly, Mathieu Perreault are getting ready to return shortly, as is defenceman Mark Stuart, who skated with the team on Thursday. Also skating on Thursday was newly re-signed Jacob Trouba, who may get to see his first action of the season tonight against Colorado.
In recent memory, a return of veteran talent would be welcomed enthusiastically by the Jets’ faithful but in this new era of forward depth, decisions are going to have to be made about who gets to play, who has to watch from the press box, and who gets sent down to the AHL to play with the Moose.
Read on as we dive in to the options in front of Paul Maurice and my thoughts on what he might (or should) do.
Last night in Phoenix the Jets iced the following forward lines against the Coyotes:
Three of those players (Nic Petan, Andrew Copp, and Marko Dano) were injury call-ups. Each of those guys has made a strong argument to stay with the big club. Copp was named first star against the ‘Yotes, scoring the opening goal and being hard on the puck all night. That gives him 4 points, with goals in back-to-back games after registering a short-handed goal against the Stars in Tuesday’s 8-2 win. Nic Petan has also looked stellar, leading the team in CF% after four games. He has three assists in those four games including a beauty to Blake Wheeler as the power-play was expiring last night. Not to be outdone, Marko Dano has an assist and two goals (one of which was the tying goal to finish the comeback against the Capitals on November 3rd).
With Perreault and Stafford set to return in the next week or so, can the Jets justify sending any of these guys back down to the Moose? This team has appeared to gain some steam over the last three or four games and rocking the boat may not be the best move. This isn’t terribly surprising, though, as Stoller predicted here that we’d see good things out of Copp during this call-up. If I’m being fully honest and forthcoming, I’d like to see Drew Stafford, a pending UFA, dealt away for some defensive depth, but, realistically speaking, I don’t see management doing that at this time.
Gary Lawless reported a week ago today that the Jets were shopping Alexander Burmistrov and rightfully so. In 14 games played this season, Burmistrov has yet to score and has added only 2 assists. If the kids are playing this well, there probably is no room for Burmi, who started the season as a healthy scratch before the injuries set in.
Hearing #nhljets are gauging trade interest on F Alex Burmistrov
— gary lawless (@garylawless) November 4, 2016
The other guy who started the season watching from the pressbox who should be returned there is Chris Thorburn. After another one of those curiously timed, poorly executed staged fights, that accomplishes absolutely nothing. In 10 games this year, Thorburn had gotten on the scoresheet a grand total of zero times. His only tangible contributions have been the ‘fight’ below with Luke Schenn and another staged debacle with Chris Stewart of the Minnesota Wild back on October 15. Neither fight has been credited as a win by Thorburn by hockeyfights.com.
Schenn: “I’m barely hanging on, help me.”
Thorburn: ‘Hey, me too, it might be our last chance, lets go!”
— Scott Campbell (@NHL_Campbell) November 11, 2016
It seems fairly apparent, at least to me, that there is no room for Burmistrov and Thorburn when Perreault and Stafford are healthy. Things will get further muddied when Bryan Little and Shawn Matthias are ready to go. I made the argument here a couple weeks ago that Kyle Connor could use some seasoning with the Moose, and I stand by that assessment. The flashes of brilliance are there, but he’s not quick enough to the puck. His situation looks a lot like Nic Petan’s from the start of last season (though he’s got much higher-quality linemates than Petan did). There is no doubt that Connor is skilled but things may be moving a bit fast for him currently. He should still get some time to adjust, though, as there are still a few weeks before the Jets should need to cross that bridge.
In the meantime, let’s hope these kids get to stay up and show what they’ve got as the Jets celebrate a depth unlike anything we’ve seen in the last five years.