The Winnipeg Jets have recalled defenceman Julian Melchiori from the Manitoba Moose, the team announced Saturday.
After veteran blueliner Toby Enstrom sustained a concussion earlier this week, the Jets found they needed more insurance on the blueline. Therefore, they decided to take Melchiori, the 6-foot-5, 214-pound defender who has only played five games with the Jets this season.
In those matchups, he failed to register a single point and was a minus-2. Also, in his limited time with Winnipeg, he didn’t appear to be the strongest defender on Winnipeg’s backend but managed to post seven hits and seven shot blocks in his short time up with the club. Additionally, he is scratched a lot of the time and doesn’t get the opportunity to play full-time as often as he does.
Melchiori appears to thrive more at the AHL level, and through 40 minor league games this season, he has two goals and eight points and is a plus-7. By the same token, his stay-at-home style of play appears to be more effective at the lower level.
Now that he is getting another call-up, there is a lot the 25-year-old can do his best to prove that eventually, he’ll have the skillset required to make that jump to the next level.
Adding edge and consistency
When it comes to Melchiori’s performance there are many ways in which he can grow into his position. While he plays more of a defensive-minded game, he could do more to start the rush or even join the team on the breakout.
If Melchiori can use his size and speed to add more to his offensive drive, he can additionally put more power into his shot. Also, he has proven his ability to move the puck, so he should be making more passes and plays to help the Jets on the forecheck. If he can add a bit more of an offensive edge to his game, it would add to his overall value, and possibly help him improve during his stint in the NHL.
Adding more offensive edge to his game would help Melchiori add to his overall value, and help him improve and stand out while he is up with the big club. If he ever hopes to cut the opening night roster, Melchiori needs to make a change and add more consistency and edge to his game. A lot of that starts with improving in those areas where he doesn’t necessarily thrive.
Stepping into the stay-at-home role
In addition, a lot of Melchiori’s struggles happen when it comes to controlling the puck. The best defencemen in the NHL are the ones that are able to hold onto the puck. As evident by stay-at-home types like Brooks Orpik and Adam Larsson, taking good care of the puck is what makes these players so valuable to have in the lineup each night.
Melchiori has not been as careful with the puck and has had four giveaways in five games this season. In his short time with the team this year, his relative Fenwick is at a -8.5 for this season, and he averages at least 15 minutes a night. This means, in his limited ice time, the Jets are more than likely to be in their zone, playing defence.
Considering his size, potential and mentality, Melchiori needs to do more to look after the puck and maintain control. He has the ability to win tight battles and use his physicality to his advantage, so he should not be giving away the puck that often. This means that he must work on his passing, and avoid poor plays that lead to him being stripped of the puck.
There is plenty of room for Melchiori to grow. The former 2010 draft pick is still developing and has the time to step back and reevaluate his game and overall ability. If he wants to be a stay-at-home defender with a full-time gig at the NHL level, he’ll have to learn to make the most of what he has, and that is a perfect, big frame, puck-moving potential and skating ability.
Additionally, considering all of the things that make Melchiori one of the Jets’ top call-up blueliners, he should be able to make that transition to the NHL and carry over all of his skill. This means that he should be adding more consistency and effort to his game, and working to improve in each stride. If he just takes the time to work on himself, he will be ready for full NHL campaigns sooner rather than later.