JN AirMail: Closing It Out

AirMail time!

You have questions, Rob, Kyle and myself have answers. This week we talk about Matt Hendrick’s future, Dmitry Kulikov’s present, help pick out a jersey for the game against Ottawa and look at what the Jets should do for the last few games of the regular season.

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Rob: Yes, I think Hendricks’s career with the Jets is about to wrap up. There are too many good prospects coming up the pipeline and at least one, Brendan Lemieux, can bring the same toughness as Hendricks but with far better offensive capabilities. Then too, the Jets may look for another cheap fill-in during free agency. This may be an unpopular opinion, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Jets kicked tires on local boy Ryan Reaves, who is a UFA next year.

It’s funny, I bumped into someone from Edmonton at a sports dinner in Regina the other day, and he started asking me about the Jets and Hendricks. His opinion was the Oilers were a far worse team without Hendricks. I know it’s not a popular opinion around here, but it’s worth acknowledging that there’s a sizeable portion of Oilers fans who feel Edmonton is worse off without him. While I don’t agree, the opinion is out there and it makes you think. But I digress. I do think Hendrick’s time in Winnipeg is soon to be up.

Kyle: I agree with Rob, this is most likely Hendrick’s last season with the Jets. It worked out very well considering the injuries and how well he played throughout the season. There is not much room for him next season and he is also going to be one year older. If he does get brought back, it will be in a very limited role. Also, how would that sit with some of the younger players that are trying to crack the lineup? Surely Lemieux and Petan and Dano all think they have more to offer on the ice than Hendricks. Maybe the Jets bring in another veteran presence, but I think it would be someone with a bit more on-ice skill.

Art: I’d like to say that I agree with Rob as well, but I’m not so sure. I think the Jets have loved having him in the room and honestly he’s performed better than I think most of us expected (which isn’t hard considering most of us didn’t expect anything) … I wouldn’t be all that shocked if they gave Hendricks a minor league contract if he still wanted to play. I think the players like him, I think TNSE likes him. Being that the AHL and NHL club are in the same city, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was given a shot with the Moose next season.

That said, yes, his time with the Jets is done.. Or at least it should be.

Rob: Scheifele. Face of the team, as far as I’m concerned

Kyle: Can’t go wrong with either choice, but for sake of argument, I will go with Wheeler because he wears the ‘C’.

Art: Ya gotta go with the Captain.

Rob: I believe he is disappointed, as we all are, but hopeful for a bounce back from him next year as UFA’s rarely settle in flawlessly in year one. Then too, he must be pleased with the fact that his homegrown players haven’t missed a beat in the absence of his UFA signings.

Kyle: I don’t think the most recent injury makes Chevy disappointed in the signing. I think he would be disappointed if any one of the regular players went down at this time of year. For the most part this season Kulikov has been quite good. When all the defensemen are healthy, Kulikov and Myers can dominate as a third pairing. Whether or not you want to pay that much money for a third pairing is another story. The recurring injury may be a problem, but I think we have to wait another year before we can say it is a really big problem.

Art: I am positive Kevin Cheveldayoff signed Kulikov knowing full well what his injury history was and at least having it in the back of his mind that re-injury could happen. Then again, Kulikov wasn’t brought in to be a key part of the Jets defense and to this day I still think he was brought in as insurance in the event that Tyler Myers didn’t come back fully healthy which when I think about it, seems odd that your “insurance” would also be a guy coming off a major injury – but no one said Chevy was a conventional thinking GM.

Either way, I am sure he’s more disappointed on behalf of Kulikov than he is disappointed in signing Kulikov. As Kyle mentioned, he was having a pretty decent season all things considered and it had looked like his back issue was a thing of the past.


Rob: Get the young kids in, sure, but go into the playoffs hot. Let the players chase some statistical bests (Laine may still be hunting 50 goals and Wheeler 90 points). Let Tucker Poolman and maybe even Sami Niku have some kicks at the can, but keep playing competitively to go into the playoffs on a high note, rather than stumbling in.

Kyle: Most teams definitely want to come into the playoffs with momentum, which means having a few good wins to close out the season. That being said, it is important to heal up all the bumps and bruises when possible. It looks like Comrie will play a few down the stretch which is a good move. Maybe Scheifele or Lowry take a game off depending on how they are feeling. Other than that, it is business as normal and you play to win and garner as much momentum going into the postseason.

Art: I don’t know that with the Moose ramping up for what is hopefully a deep playoff run for themselves as well that you’ll see any of the kids from the AHL team join the Jets for this playoff run until the Moose are in fact out. As for what the Jets do? Well if it is 4-5 games, then I think you give Eric Comrie a couple of turns in goal in that stretch and otherwise go on with business as usual.

The last four games for the Jets are visiting Ottawa, visiting Montreal then hosting Calgary and hosting Chicago… That is three, maybe even four non-playoff teams the Jets get to close their season out against. Four teams that will be “playing for next season” and they will be essentially meaningless games for both sides. In other words, I think it’s a very ideal situation for the Jets to go into the playoffs with.

  • The last 4 games the Jets should bring up Niku, Lemieux and play them with Poolman and Comry. It would be good for them to experience some NHL action as some of them will be on the Jets roster next year. I agree rest players like Scheifele, Ehlers, Wheeler, Buff, Stasny, Helly and Morrissey.