Photo Credit: NHL.com

Vesalainen Assigned To Moose

The Winnipeg Jets have assigned Kristian Vesalainen to the Manitoba Moose.

This move comes as no surprise as Vesalainen has struggled in the early going. After recording his first NHL point in his first NHL game, Vesalainen was held pointless for the next four games. Despite playing in each of the first five games, Vesalainen struggled to get ice time as he averaged under seven minutes per game with his best game topping out at 8:14 of ice time.

After being held pointless for four games, Paul Maurice decided it was time to make a switch in the lineup and give Brendan Lemieux the nod instead.

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Although the general consensus is that Vesalainen would benefit from playing in the AHL, it’s peculiar timing given that Dano was just waived a few days ago. Should the Jets have sent Vesalainen down instead of Dano the first time and saved losing a player?

While this is certainly a valid question, there are a few reasons why the Jets made these transactions in this specific order.

First of all, the Jets were likely doing Dano a favour by waiving him. It was clear that Dano was not going to be playing much this season. The Jets would rather be developing Lemieux or Vesalainen and when neither can be in the lineup, Petan is waiting in the wings should the need arise.

All three players were likely ahead of Dano on the depth chart so it didn’t make sense to keep Dano around. If the Jets have no use for him, they might as well let him go and give him a shot with another organization. Chevaldayoff likely did his homework as well and realized the trade value of Dano was so little that he might as well be waived.

The second reason the Jets performed their moves this way is due to their schedule. Both the Moose and the Jets are playing at home this weekend which allows them to run with only 22 players if they choose. They don’t need the extra bodies around because if an injury were to occur, they would still be able to recall anyone they at a moment’s notice, without any travel. This is one of the main benefits of having the AHL team in the same city as the NHL team.

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In this case, both Vesalainen and Lemieux are still able to play meaningful hockey this weekend and the Jets are able to save a few dollars on the payroll. It’s a smart tactic by the organization to maximize players value while minimizing team expenses. The intention is likely to get Vesalainen some big minutes with the Moose before recalling him next week as the Jets hit the road.

Of course, Vesalainen won’t necessarily be recalled on Monday, but all signs are pointing that way early.

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The last thing to note is that the Jets now have an empty spot on the roster. With the defense coming under fire in the last few games is it finally time to #freeniku?

This is a longshot at best, but I’m sure most fans would welcome the luscious locks to the team.

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  • Vesalainen needs time to play on the smaller ice surface of North America arenas. He’s not far away from sticking with the Jets. Both Poolman and Niku would be better options on the Jets defense than Morrow and Kulikov but the Jets won’t move them up unless there is injuries.