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JN AirMail: Gettin All Defensive Up In Here

AirMail is back in it’s regular Monday morning slot just in time for the start of pre-season and we’re all about the defense today as we have questions about Sami Niku, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey.

A reminder, if you ever have pressing questions to ask us, send us a message on our Facebook page or through our Twitter account with the hashtag #JNAirMail.

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Cassie: I think he gets in when there is an injury and makes his case then. If I were to harbor a guess, the team is mostly set and it’ll be a situation a la Connor for Niku.

Kyle: Niku’s odds aren’t the greatest. As much as it would be nice to see Niku get that experience, his contract terms make him the easy one to get sent down. On the other side, being the youngest defensemen of the bunch, he will ikely benefit the most from playing with the Moose, compared to someone like Tucker Poolman.

Brian: While I absolutely love Niku, based on what we’re hearing out of camp doesn’t leave me much hope that he’ll be in the lineup to start the year. With Maurice doubling down on the idea to move Myers to the left, it definitely hurts Niku’s chances of cracking the lineup, even though I think he would be an interesting and potentially good partner for Byfuglien. As Cassie said, an injury looks to be the best chance for Niku to see a spot open up.

Sean: It appears to me that Niku will be the odd man out to start the season, especially with Myers working on the left side. I would guess he is the first call up and will get his shot at that point.

Winston: I’m a big Niku fan, but I believe he has some work ahead of him in his zone before he’s ready for NHL work. His one NHL game last season was quite the rollercoaster. He scored a goal and looked great in the offensive zone but often looked out of sorts in his own zone. He put up 43.3% Corsi and a 33.3% percent scoring chance playing mostly with Dustin Byfuglien. It’s hard to gain too much from one game but it doesn’t really scream “I’m ready” to me. I would guess he starts with the moose and will likely get some games in this year due to injury. If he can clean up his defensive zone play I could see him becoming a top 4 defender as soon as next season, but probably not this year unless he blows the doors off.

Art: I get the feeling the Jets really like Niku but might not see him as NHL ready quite yet. That of course might change if two things happen in the pre-season: 1, the Myers on the left side experiment proves to be ill-advised (which is very likely) and 2, Niku absolutely lights it up in his games and forces Paul Maurice’s hand. I would think Jets fans though should maybe recall the story of Kyle Connor who started his season last year in the AHL even though he looked ready for the NHL right out of the gate. I feel like the Jets may do the same thing with Niku.

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Art: Consider your question officially answered. Not that we had anything to do with it…

Or did we?

Jets Sign Josh Morrissey To Two Year Deal

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Cassie: If they can’t get a contract figured out after January hits, then I think we’re looking at trying to get the most return for him as possible. I just don’t look forward to another season of trade proposals and trade talk surrounding him.

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Kyle: I don’t think the Jets are going to trade Trouba during the season. If the Jets are poised for another playoff run, they might as well use Trouba as their own rental player. The same goes for the following season as well. If they can find a deal to help the club that’s great, but if the Jets really are contenders then they will need him in the lineup.

Brian: I think the Jets are in a “play it by ear” situation with the Trouba camp right now, as they don’t want to jump the gun on a trade when a long term deal could be worked out. However, I think that if talks don’t come to fruition once an extension can be negotiated starting in January, they’ll make some calls to see what the interest is on the trade market, and see what sort of return they can work out. I would much rather see Trouba in a Jets jersey for many years to come, but I’m just not sure how realistic that is.

Sean: I honestly have no idea what Trouba and his team are thinking at the moment. From a team perspective I have been a proponent of trading Trouba for a while now. His skill is undeniable but I don’t think he is committed to Winnipeg long term. His value is high and I would be hopeful the Jets may be able to find a trade partner in a one for one type scenario

Winston: As was so eloquently stated, no one truly knows what Trouba is thinking except him and his agent. Here’s hoping he lifts the Stanley Cup as a Jet this June and Jets fans will be able to cope with whatever happens.

Art: I gotta believe the chances Trouba is traded this season are slim and none unless things go super sideways for the Jets and it looks like they are going to miss the playoffs altogether. As for Trouba himself, I remain optimistic that he’s genuine in his expressed desire to stay in Winnipeg and his statement last week of that they had multiple long term options available and are going to re-visit them next summer (for the record, they can’t sign a new deal at all until January 1) give me hope that he and his group see a way to work things out and keep him as a Jet for a long time.