If you were Paul Maurice, who would you have as your six defensemen to open the season with?
While I won’t present pairing combinations – I did that at the start of this month as we were getting ready for camps to open – what I would like to talk about is who makes this team out of camp. Who are the six defensemen the Jets go with, who gets press box duty as the seventh and maybe even eighth defensemen on the roster to at least start the season. What I did was break the jets defensemen into five groups from those at the top who you can write their name in pen for the opening night lineup, to the guys who will without question be attending Moose training camp.
In a way, you can think of this as something similar to the Prospect Pyramids that were really started by Steve Dangle and have grown in popularity. This is like that, but more as just a pecking order of Winnipeg Jets defensemen. Of course, your opinion may differ on certain players and you’re certainly welcome to sound off in the comments below , or on either our Twitter feed or Facebook page.
The “Locked In” – Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey, Jacob Trouba
These are your top guys. Despite his pre-season struggles, Jacob Trouba along with Josh Morrisey is the team’s top pairing. Dustin Byfuglien has looked pretty good in his games and he’s already eating up more minutes than any of us are comfortable. These are the cornerstones of the Jets defense.
The “In, But Really Should They Be?” – Tyler Myers & Dmitry Kulikov
Collectively these two have a Salary Cap hit of over nine million this season, and yet they really should be at best the Jets third defensive pairing. Still, Paul Maurice continues to with his TME (Tyler Myers Experiment) by putting him on the left side of the ice and hoping he’ll adapt to playing on his off-side and possibly line up with Byfuglien on the second pair. Kulikov just needs to worry about staying healthy, something he is still struggling with in this pre-season.
The “Outer Fringe” – Ben Chiarot & Joe Morrow
So far we’ve mentioned five players who are either locks for the lineup, or at that very least sure bets to make it. That leaves one more spot on the opening night lineup along with one or maybe two press box spots. Joe Morrow has shown a bit of offensive flair this pre-season which isn’t a surprise, but his work in the Jets defensive end is still a bit of a sore spot. Ben Chiarot is probably the most physical player in this group and has a great shot, but his on-ice decision making lacks.
The “Long Shots” – Sami Niku & Tucker Poolman
Some Jets fans would argue these two have more talent than the previous group mentioned and maybe more than Myers or Kulikov. Niku for sure has NHL already offensive skills, but his play in his own end has drawn criticism from the man himself. Tucker Poolman has had a tough camp with some bad games but the coaching staff may feel that it’s just him shaking off some summer rust and will give him a pass based on his work last season.
The Moose – Luke Green, Logan Stanley, Nelson Nogier & The Rest
Enjoy the AHL guys.
So what do you think JetsNation? Again, not looking so much for pairs here (although feel free to share them) but based on what you’ve seen, what does your group of defensemen look like on opening night for the Jets? Is there a player who you didn’t think would make it who should be included now, or who you had penciled in but don’t see them making the cut?
As always, we want your feedback and opinions!