Sami Niku has been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose after being with the Jets for the last month.
Details on Sami Niku's reassignment to the @ManitobaMoose.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) December 14, 2018
Although Niku was with the team for just over a month, he only slotted into five games. He barely graced the stat sheet in those five games and had no points while only averaging 11:33 TOI. He finished his five games with two shots and a -2 rating. The highlight of his call up was the game against the Islanders when he played a respectable 19:11 and had a hit and two blocked shots.
It could be argued that Niku deserved more games than he played. His smooth skating and great passing ability would be welcome among a Jets defense that struggles to clear their own end at times. Unfortunately for Niku, the Jets stayed healthy for a few weeks after he was first called up. It wasn’t until November 29th that he played his first game, nearly three weeks after initially reporting to the Jets.
The time with the big club likely helped Niku in a number of ways. Being able to practice against stronger competition is very important. It’s much different competing in drills against Scheifele and Laine compared to Suess and Spacek. The physical side is important, but so are the mental aspects of the game. It’s important to learn the differences between the AHL and NHL and see how the top performers on the Jets go about their business every day.
There certainly could have been some good mentoring from the veterans like Byfuglien and Myers even when Niku wasn’t in the lineup.
For now, Niku needs to keep logging heavy minutes with the Moose to stay in game shape and continue progressing as a young defender. All the tools are there for Niku, it might just take some time before he sticks with the big club. That time might come as early as next season if he keeps progressing along his career path.