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Photo Credit: NHL.com

Jets Line Dancing: The Young and the Restless

We are now into the third instalment of our Jets Line Dancing series where we are taking a look at 20 different line combinations in 20 days.

Each post has a different theme, with this one being the youth movement. The Jets have been one of the youngest teams over the past few seasons and if they promote from within, that will stay the same this year.

With pre-season recently starting and the Jets still without contracts for Laine and Connor, two of these options feature combinations without one or the other. I’m sure no Jets fan wants to see a team in action without these players but with the season only two weeks away, it might become a possibility.

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If Connor or Laine hold out, it really opens the door for a younger player to step in and make an immediate impact. Let’s take a look and see who might possibly make the opening night roster.

SCENARIO 7: Gustafsson Makes His Mark

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nik Ehlers Bryan Little Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp Adam Lowry Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault David Gustafsson Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 1/10
Fun factor: 5/10

David Gustafsson is likely the Jets’ best forward prospect behind Vesalainen (we had him as the 6th best Jets player outside of the NHL). Gustafsson is a defensive minded player who has already played professional hockey in Sweden for the past two seasons.

That means he understands the pro game and what it takes to play at a high level in that environment. In this scenario, Gustafsson slots in on the fourth line alongside Perreault and Appleton.

Including Gustafsson on the roster allows the team to be more defensive minded, an area where Winnipeg has struggled over the past few years. It also gives the Jets plenty of faceoff options with Copp playing on the wing beside Lowry.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that this combination will actually happen, but it might serve as a reminder that Gustafsson might not be as far away from the NHL as some people expect.

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SCENARIO 8: Here Comes Dr. Suess

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Patrik Laine Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Andrew Copp Bryan Little Jack Roslovic
Nik Ehlers Adam Lowry Kristian Vesalainen
Mathieu Perreault CJ Suess Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 2/10
Fun factor: 4/10

Here’s one potential option if the Jets are without Kyle Connor to start the year. In this scenario, Laine moves up to the top line and the rest of the lines get really interesting.

The second line includes a really interesting mix of styles with Copp alongside Little and Roslovic.

The third line would be fun to watch with the blend of size and speed between Ehlers, Vesalainen and Lowry. Perhaps Ehlers can find some chemistry with a different Finnish winger this season?

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Lastly, this line combination features the emergence of CJ Suess. After playing four seasons at Minnesota State University (Mankato), Suess was limited to only 26 games with the Moose last season. Although he didn’t post huge numbers (12 points in 26 games) he plays a very simple game that might work at the NHL level.

Suess is not really a prospect anymore as he turned 25 this year. However, Suess could provide a depth option at centre ice with his simple and dependable style.

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SCENARIO 9: Vesalainen Gets Big Minutes

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Kristian Vesalainen
Nik Ehlers Bryan Little Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault Adam Lowry Jack Roslovic
Gabriel Bourque Andrew Copp Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 3/10
Fun factor: 5/10

Scenario 8 included no Connor and this one includes no Laine. In this case, Vesalainen is gifted a top line position to start the year to prove his offensive ability. His power forward game could fit in nicely with Scheifele’s all around ability and Connor’s goal scoring prowess.

Having Vesalainen on the top line also allows Wheeler to move to the second line which gives new life to the secondary scoring. Little and Wheeler have played together for years, so reuniting them might pay dividends.

If Vesalainen is truly the best prospect for the organization, giving him a prominent role right from the start could bode well for the future. Giving him that role also becomes much easier if Laine or Connor are without contracts at the start of the season.

Check out the rest of the series

Part 1

Part 2