Training camp is underway in Winnipeg as the Jets have been on the ice prepping for the start of the regular season. For most players, training camp is the time of year to get back on the ice and fine-tune their game so they can hit the ground running on October 4 against St. Louis.
For other players however, training camp is the time of year to audition for a spot in the Jets lineup. Not only are there spots in press box to fight for, but their are a few positions in the lineup that are up for grabs as well.
Over the next several days we will look at the biggest battles that are going on during the preseason and highlight which players have the edge for the start of the season. For now, we will give a quick overview of the matchups before we dive headlong into each one.
Battle One: One Man Armia
When Armia was dealt to the Montreal Canadians along with Mason, most people focused on the salary dump and not on the roster spot Armia took up. People seemed to forget that Armia was a valuable contributor in the bottom six who had 29 points last season.
The Jets need to fill this spot with someone similar to Armia because of the valuable versatility he provided. Armia could play well defensively while still being able to chip in offensively. He provided a nice balance in an important bottom six role.
Battle Two: Byfuglien’s Buddy
It seems that five out of six defense spots are already occupied. Assuming that Kulikov is good to go at the start of the season, it leaves only one spot up for grabs. Ben Chiarot has occupied it in the past, but Joe Morrow played impressively near the end of the season including scoring the game winner of the franchises first playoff win.
Battle Three: Second Line Centre
With Stastny leaving town, there is a big hole in the second line. Some people expect Little to move back into that role as he occupied it for the majority of last season but others would rather see Roslovic take the reins and build some chemistry with the other youngsters. If you followed my line combination series there were also some suggestions that Wheeler should move back to centre and occupy the role.
Either way, this is the highest profile spot that is up for grabs in the preseason.
Battle Four: Pressbox Spots
With so many Jets on the verge of making the team, there has to be a few casualties that will be sent back to the Moose. The Jets can only keep so many players in the press box and sometimes the extra playing time in the AHL can be more beneficial to the player. There’s a ton of players available as Petan, Lemieux, Dano, Appleton, and Vesalainen are all looking to stay in the NHL.
Battle Five: Bucky’s Backup
The final battle to preview is the backup role for the Jets. Obviously Hellebuyck is the starter, but there are two young goalies that want to be the backup. The Jets originally signed Brossoit for the role, but Eric Comrie will try to prove his worth after playing the last three seasons in the AHL.
We will break down each one of these matchups in greater detail throughout the next several days. Check back daily to see our take on the matchup that intrigues you the most.