JN AirMail: The Defense Still Has ‘Em Questioning

JetsNation AirMail is where we ask for your questions, you either @ them to us on Twitter, send them to us on Facebook or even old school electronic mail them to us and then we answer them here!

This week Cassie, Kyle, Sean and yours truly break down just what is going on with Blake Wheeler and his confidence, we try to figure out which Finns are going to Finland and we talk about Tobias Enstrom for a bit.

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Art: Vesalainen, almost assuredly yes. Niku? I’m not so sure. I made the argument he should be up on the main roster now, but to be honest I wasn’t even thinking Finland trip. Would the Jets – if they don’t feel he’s ready – call him up for two token appearances in his home country, or would they want to keep him away from all that and just have him focus on developing in the AHL for the time being?

Cassie: I believe Vesalainen will and Niku will stay behind. Unless there is a massive shake up on the defence, I believe Niku is staying with the Moose for now.

Kyle: I agree with Art and Cassie. The Jets won’t call Niku up specifically to go to Finland so I believe it will be the same lineup as always barring an injury.

Sean: Clean sweep. Vesalainen yes, he had a great weekend with the Moose and I expect he finds his way back into the NHL roster. Niki’s only coming if someone gets hurt and they need him.

Art: I would have liked to had seen the Jets keep Toby, but at the same time it depends on what he was asking for. If he was looking for a deal over 3 million, that’s something I feel the Jets just couldn’t do unless they had a plan to move Kulikov or Myers out (or a desire to do as much). Enstrom wasn’t as bad last season as people thought, but he was starting to age regress as well and fought all kinds of injuries. As soon as he was sat for game five against Vegas in last year’s playoffs, the ship had sailed and both the team and Toby were ready to move on. It happens.

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Cassie: I believe it was the right time to move on from Toby. The way he was treated at the end of the season probably was indicative of where the organization felt they were with him. He was great last season but longevity does come into play. Don’t get me wrong, I love him and think he’s the better option than what we have currently, but I think it was the right time for him to move on. I think the problem arises when nothing was done by the organization to actually address the need that he left in his wake.

Kyle: Once the damage was done in the playoffs, it was clear Toby wasn’t coming back. If that situation never occurred I think Enstrom would have been a welcome addition. While the age and injuries were definitely a warning sign, he could have provided some solid minutes instead of Morrow or Chiarot. The key would have been contract details given his age and injury history. The Jets might not have wanted to sign Toby just because of how tight their cap situation is.

Sean: Toby Enstrom is where my head and heart have always disagreed. While not completely against Toby like some were, I thought he was done in the NHL. Enstrom did have skill and was a great puck mover but I thought he got pushed around a fair bit and for the money he was making his time in Winnipeg was done.

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Art: I don’t think he’s “terrible” at developing talent, I just feel like the real problem is that PoMo has never had a team where it was very possible to roll all four lines and he’s still leaning on his top lines a bit too much. This past weekend with the Jets sending down Vesalainen to get more playing time and Perreault and Roslovic voicing frustration, I’m hoping it’s a little bit of a wake up call to Maurice and the coaching staff to do a better job at balancing out the lines which is the one thing he’s really struggled to do so far.

Cassie: I’m going to agree with Art here. I think it’s a case where PoMo hasn’t had team deep enough to worry about rolling 4 proper lines. His line combos could use some work, but I think his utilization of players is where the problem lies. This might not be a case where he’s bad at it, but more so a case of him having to figure it out for the first time.

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Kyle: I think during games Maurice does whatever gives him the best chance to win. I also believe that a lot of the development comes during practices and off-ice time as well. People would likely complain if Maurice played each line for 15 minutes each. It’s tough to find the balance between playing the top talent and getting everyone in the game. As far as development is concerned, I think it’s more of an organizational thing rather than a head coach thing.

Sean: While it hasn’t always been pretty the Jets have points in 6 of 8 games this year. Yes I’d like to see that line get more ice time but it’s tough for me to argue with what Maurice has done so far. To answer the bigger question, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey, Nik Ehlers and even to an extent Mark Scheifele all came to Maurice very young and are successful. I think he’s done a fine job with young players

Art: I’m sure the captain and coach have already talked about it if Wheeler has publicly expressed his frustration. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t feel like Wheeler and Scheifele are meshing as well as they did last season. I myself have been wanting to see a bit of a shakeup with the lines the last couple of weeks, but the Little/Laine/Ehlers line is starting to show signs of life themselves and you’d have to be a bit crazy to break up the TLC line right now. I think how they do this week – the two games against Toronto and game in Detroit – should give us an idea of where the Jets should go from here with the top line, but I’d lean towards breaking it up and trying to get Wheeler going other ways.

Cassie: The way Wheeler has been talking and looking, it feels as though he may be playing through something, either something physical or mental. There is a good chance that whatever it may be is affecting his play and how he views where he should be at. I think PoMo should break him off the top line and try and do something else to get some production out of him. It’s not a “demotion” but just a way to shake whatever is rattling around loose. If he is playing injured, then he probably should just sit out until he’s healed. This is the time of the year where you can get away with taking time to yourself to make sure you’re ready to go later in the season. Maybe see where the team is at after the Finland trip as well. There is a decent break right afterwards and that could be much needed healing time.

Kyle: I agree with everything stated above. Sometimes a player just needs a lucky bounce or a good game to get them back to normal, especially if it’s a mental issue. I’m not too worried yet as the Jets just need a few things to go their way to get back to normal.

Sean: There is a ton of proven talent on that line, give them time and let them work it out, I have no doubt they’ll be okay.

  • Poolman should be brought up before Niku but I would like to see both of the with the Jets before the end of the season. Vesalainen should also be promoted before the end of the season at the expense of either Copp or Tanev. Not bringing back Enstrom was a good decision as he just couldn’t handle playing against bigger, faster and more skilled opponents. Its time to give Roslovic a chance between Ehlers and Laine as he may be the catalyst to get them going offensively. Little between Perreault and Lemieux would give the Jets a great 3rd/4th line that would make match-ups against the team a nightmare. I don’t expect much as Maurice moves slowly when it comes to his young players.