JN AirMail: Trying To Figure Out Ehlers; Is Vesalainen Here To Stay?

A one and one start to the season hasn’t eased the worry Jets fans have about some players that have been a concern for a while. The biggest of these worries might be Nik Ehlers who played just 10:31 in the game against St. Louis and while he had a few more minutes worth of ice in Dallas, was held to just one shot on goal and looked very ineffective.

The uncertainty around Ehlers right now has fans wondering if he may be in Paul Maurice’s dog house, or even a possible trade target.

Speaking of trade targets: Nic Petan’s name comes up as always as someone Jets fans are concerned about.

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We round up today’s fan Q and A segment by talking about Kristian Vesalainen and if the Jets are just keeping him around for a month or so…

Kyle: It’s going to be tough for everyone to get minutes if they are spread across four lines. One of the problems over the first couple games was the amount of penalties taken. Because Ehlers doesn’t kill penalties, his use is very limited. Couple that with the fact he doesn’t play on the top power play unit and it amounts to little ice time. I don’t think he is in the doghouse, but there might be games where a certain line isn’t playing well and only gets 10-11 minutes.

Art: It would make things so much easier is he had any kind of chemistry with Bryan Little or Patrik Laine. A big part of the problem is that two of your four lines are set with the top line of Wheeler / Scheifele / Connor and then a third (or fourth depending on your opinion) line of Tanev / Lowry / Copp.. So that doesn’t leave much room for Ehlers who simply doesn’t mesh that well with the guys we’d all like to see him play with, and is drastically underutilized in a bottom six role.

Sean: I don’t think Ehlers is at all in the dog house, at this point he just finds himself as the odd man out. Scheifele and Lowry’s lines are set and we’ve seen time after time that he doesn’t fit with the second line, combined with the amount of time on the penalty kill it just hasn’t worked out for him thus far. It will be a big challenge for Paul Maurice to get him more involved, and they will need him as he is one of the more underrated guys on this team.

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Kyle: I am becoming less optimistic about Petan staying with the organization. If he doesn’t prove his value this season, I think he might get traded. Otherwise, if he gets sent down, there is a strong possibility that he will get claimed, which might honestly be the best way to wrap up his saga with the organization.

Art: It wouldn’t shock me at all to see him traded as part of a package later this season. I’ve said for a while now that for whatever reason be it valid or not, Paul Maurice just doesn’t see a place for him in the lineup beyond limited fourth line type minutes with players who do not complement Petan’s ability. Part of the other problem is the Jets lineup of course and if you put in Petan, who do you take out? You can’t stick him with the Lowry line because that’s not his game, so subbing him for Tanev or Copp I don’t think is the answer. Does he come in over Roslovic or Vesalainen?

Sean: I don’t see any opportunity for Petan in Winnipeg.

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Kyle: That’s a tough question. It would be nice if that were a possibility, but the team has to come first. If Vesalainen still isn’t producing or playing well then it doesn’t make sense to keep him around just because of the NHL Global Series. The other thing to consider is that Laine will be the star of the show regardless of where Vesalainen is, so it doesn’t really matter.

Art: Paul Maurice the other day said something about Krisian that was a bit eye opening for me..

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This is the kind of talk Maurice was using when he talked about Patrik Laine in his first season. This whole “he’s not where I want him to be at, but he is and will get there” type vibe which you may note is missing when he talks about someone like a Nic Petan or Marko Dano. To me, that’s an indication that Veselainen is here for the season even when he slumps a bit. I think PoMo and the Jets have really high hopes for him and see that the best way for him to develop – much like Laine a couple of seasons ago – is stay in the NHL and take his lumps.