Injuries to key players isn’t stopping the Jets from propelling forward. As it stands now, the Jets are second in the Central Division while sitting four points behind the division lead. Despite having Mathieu Perreault, Bryan Little, Kyle Connor, Joel Armia, Shawn Matthias, Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers out of the lineup, the Jets are 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Much of Winnipeg’s recent success has to be attributed to the performance of the team’s recent call-ups from the Manitoba Moose. The Moose call-ups have filled in the gaps for the Jets quite nicely and have have combined for 14 points in team’s last 8 games.
The reality is, Winnipeg’s call-ups are playing well enough that some of them may have earned the right to stick around longer than a brief stint. Many of them have shown they deserve to stay for the long term, but will any of them be kept on the Jets roster even once the Jets injury woes settle down?
Obviously the Jets injuries aren’t going to all heal simultaneously. Progressively the Jets call-ups will return back to the Moose as the injured Jets slowly are integrated back in to the lineup. But not all of the call-ups should be sent back down.
How could you send down Andrew Copp? The Michigan Alumni has done everything that he needs to do to show he belongs to stay with the Jets. Copp was Winnipeg’s fourth line centre last year, before being demoted to the Moose to start out this season. Since getting another chance with the Jets, Copp has showed that he deservers to regain his title as the team’s fourth line centre. In his last eight games, Copp has notched four points and has continued to display his solid penalty-killing ability.
Along with his own strong play, another reason Copp could earn his stripes back is due to the poor play of Alexander Burmistrov. Over the last few years, Burmistrov has shown to be an ineffective player in the Jets top-nine and now he’s starting to show he can’t even do much in a fourth line role. All the more reason to give Copp his spot back.
It’s not just Copp that you could make a solid case for.
Marko Dano’s display of grit and skill has gelled nicely in the Jets bottom six. When the Jets acquired Dano last February, he showed that he could be a competitive player at the NHL level in the final stretch of the Jets season. Dano didn’t get as much opportunity during his pit-stops in Columbus and Chicago, but a fresh start with a young and exciting team like Winnipeg could be just the place for Dano to find his game.
During his recent call-up, Dano has carried over the momentum he sustained last year and has recorded five points in the Jets last 10 games. Obviously an argument is going to be had that Dano should be re-assigned to further develop his offensive game. But I’d counter that with the fact that Dano has shown he can play at the NHL level and his offensive game can still develop further while learning on the fly with the Jets. Besides, the 21 year-old has 77 NHL games under his belt, he’s no stranger to the NHL game.
It’s happening a year later and on a different team, but Marko Dano is finally making things happen.
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) November 13, 2016
Nic Petan is playing very well in a top-six role and I honestly can say he truly deserves an NHL spot. There is a really solid case to make for keeping him around. Petan has five points in his last five games and he’s been consistent in the face-off circle while winning 58.3% of his draws. That’s pretty valuable for a team that’s currently sitting at the bottom of the league’s face-off win percentage at 45.5%. The crafty centreman is a valuable playmaker that seems to be developing some chemistry with Blake Wheeler while adapting to playing down the middle at the NHL level.
Reasonably, who could the Jets keep with a full healthy lineup?
What the Jets should do is keep Andrew Copp and Marko Dano for the remainder of the season. To make that possible the Jets would send down a defenseman and place Alexander Burmistrov on waivers for the purpose of re-assignment. But I’m not the one making the decisions and there’s a big difference between what the Jets should do and will do.
While Nic Petan deserves to stay, when the missing pieces of the Jets top-six return, there just won’t be a spot for him in a top-six role, where he belongs to play. I think Nic Petan undoubtedly is a Jet at the start of next season, but with a full healthy lineup for this current season, he may not be able to stick.
The Jets could swing a trade to free up a spot for a young forward. Drew Stafford is starting to lose his purpose in this lineup and a young gun may be better suited for the lineup than Stafford. If the Jets elect to pull the trigger on a deal like that it could also benefit them in a few ways. The Jets will likely let Stafford walk in free agency and if they were to trade him they’d receive a draft pick instead of letting him walk for nothing. Plus, his could give a prospect an opportunity they deserve. The Jets could get a decent return for Stafford when the deadline nears as contending teams could be calling Kevin Cheveldayoff to add some veteran scoring.
Looking onward to next season, with the way the current expansion draft format is aligned there is a really good chance the Jets could lose a decent forward. That would also open up a spot for a young forward to jump in to the lineup, but that’s still a ways away.
There’s chances down the road for these guys and many more Moose to come in to the lineup, but opportunities continue to arise for some of the Moose, they’ll be ready.