Losing Patrik Laine isn’t an easy thing to adjust to. Expectedly, Winnipeg misses Laine dearly in many facets. He’s missed on the teams top line, on their power play, in clutch scoring opportunities, you name it.
Rotating Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault up and down the lineup isn’t going to replace Laine’s scoring. Those type of tweaks will continue to equal mediocrity, a style of play the Jets have grown accustomed to. With no timetable for Laine’s return, the Jets will have to continue to scramble to find an offensive boost in the mean time and that’s proven to be no easy task with the current roster of players they have.
Not much to report on Patrik Laine today. Maurice said he continues to improve, but has not skated yet.
— Sara Orlesky (@saraorlesky) January 17, 2017
The Jets need to construct their lines better and insert more scoring throughout their lineup. Thinking outside the box, what about the idea of Kyle Connor, the Jets first round pick in 2015, getting another stint with the Jets?
Hear me out:
Kyle Connor’s start to his NHL career was a bumpy ride. He started the year out in a top-six role and accumulated three points in his first 10 contests. Not terrible, but not great. Growing pains are to be anticipated with a 20 year-old making the transition from the NCAA to the NHL. Connor has NHL-ready speed and skill, but his play away from the puck and hockey IQ needed some brushing up at the NHL-level. After stints in the press box, trips to the teams fourth line, followed by an injury and a weak offensive input ( 4 points in 19 games) the Jets sent Connor down to the Moose for more fine tuning.
Since joining the Moose, Connor has responded well to a more development-centric environment. He’s had more time to handle the puck, which has seemingly done a great deal to Connor’s confidence. Going from leading the entire nation in points to a fast paced and physical league like the NHL can bring on many challenges, such as playmaking at the pro level as opposed to college hockey. Connor wasn’t equipped to play at the NHL level right off the bat and giving him time to play with the Moose and get plenty of minutes on the teams top line and power play unit is exactly what Connor needed.
“It’s tough when you get sent down.” Connor said after his first game with the Moose.” “But you need to look at it as an opportunity to work on your game and make the most of it so you can get back with the big club.” Connor has worked on his game and worked on the areas he needed to work on. With the Jets needing an offensive spark, should they give Connor a shot?
The Jets have had a lack of secondary scoring throughout the season. With Laine out as well, the Jets need to maximize the offensive talent in their lineup, in any way they can. Which means a move like placing Nic Petan on the teams fourth line isn’t going to improve the teams lack of offense, rather, prevent it from reaching it’s full potential. On the other hand, giving Connor a shot with speedy players such as Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele, could very well rejuvenate Connor’s game and provide the Jets with a much needed scoring spark.
A big pro to having the Manitoba Moose across the hallway from the Jets is how quick and effectively they can implement call-up stints. Having the farm team locally reduces stress on a player during a call up, creates less travel and makes it much easier for the Jets brass to keep an eye on their developing talent. With the Moose at such close reach, a quick examination of Connor’s progress is harmless and something that is easily do-able.
This is something we’ve seen with the Toronto Maple Leafs through the course of their rebuild. Rewarding their farm team players from the Toronto Marlies for their strong play by giving them a chance at the NHL-level. Connor has had a taste of NHL-action before, but it may be time to give him another shot.
On the other side of the coin, why would calling up Connor be a poor idea?
Connor entered the NHL with great promise and hype. This pre-season praise was met with subpar play and a sort of wake up call that Connor just wasn’t ready yet. There’s no rush to get Kyle Connor back in the NHL game and it may be best for his development to play the remainder of the season with the Moose. Ovrrippening the Michigan native in the AHL and re-evaluting his NHL-level talent at next years training camp presents the safest move.
There’s no repercussions in giving Connor another look in the show and that’s why I believe they should give it a shot. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. But if he is in fact ready, the Jets could use his speed and skill in their top-nine, as soon as possible. There should be a sense of desperation for a Jets team that is one run away from being back in the playoff picture.
If the Jets want to climb up in the standings, they’ll have to score above the league average. The Jets are currently averaging 2.70 goals per game ( ranking them 15th in the league ) and if the Jets want to salvage their season, they’ll need to increase their scoring. What’s the harm in seeing if Kyle Connor could help the Jets score more?
What do you think Jets fans? Should the Jets re-call Kyle Connor? Let us know on twitter @NHLJetsNation