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Connor, Copp, Malott: Three skaters to watch as Jets visit Blackhawks on eve of Trade Deadline 2022 (6:00 pm CT, TSN 3)
By Thomas Hall1 year ago
Less than 24 hours away from the Mar. 21 trade deadline, the Winnipeg Jets are preparing for a crucial showdown in Chicago against the rebuilding Blackhawks.
As things currently stand, this franchise sits six points behind the second wild-card seed in the West, which is controlled by the Vegas Golden Knights – who’ll return to Canada Life Centre on Tuesday. Before then, this club will attempt to secure two vital points while facing one of the NHL’s bottom feeders.
Unfortunately, the Jets will be without forward @Adam Lowry, who entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol Sunday morning. Given the way he’s performed lately, there’s no question this line-up will miss his presence, especially on the penalty kill.
Looking ahead to which players will be available for this contest, let’s explore three skaters worth keeping a close eye on during this final meeting of 2021-22 between Winnipeg and Chicago.
Last Game: One assist, six shots, 26:19 minutes
With the Jets needing a victory Sunday, this club will undoubtedly be hoping for continued success from forward @Kyle Connor, who enters this matchup as one of the hottest players in the sport.
Enjoying a remarkable recent stretch, the 25-year-old is currently riding a six-game point streak, where he’s posted five goals and 11 points – including three multi-point performances. Thanks to these results, the 6’1″ winger has matched his single-season career highs in goals (38) and points (73), and has accomplished this impressive feat in nine fewer games compared to the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign.
While positioned on Winnipeg’s nuclear line, which also consists of @Pierre-Luc Dubois and @Nikolaj Ehlers, Connor figures to remain a lethal offensive threat every time the puck hits his stick.
Last Game: One shot, 13:57 minutes
After much speculation about whether forward @Andrew Copp – and to a lesser extent, @Paul Stastny – would be held out of Sunday’s tilt in Chicago, interim coach Dave Lowry confirmed both of his impending free agents will be available at the United Center.
In particular, there’s a very strong chance this could potentially be Copp’s final game with the Jets as it appears his trade talks are nearing a breaking point. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday, negotiations involving the 27-year-old are beginning to intensify, with the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and the New York Rangers acting as front-runners.
Since Lowry isn’t available, Copp skated at centre during his team’s morning skate and is expected to occupy that spot against the Blackhawks. There, he’ll be able to showcase his versatility as someone capable of playing multiple positions.
If this indeed proves to be his final contest, let’s hope the former fourth-round selection displays a quality performance.
Last Game (AHL): Three shots, +1 rating
Signed as an undrafted free agent last season, forward @Jeff Malott has primarily spent his young professional career with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, but now, the 25-year-old is set to make his NHL debut in Chicago.
Thus far, the 6’4″ winger has registered 32 goals and 48 points across 80 AHL games, 46 of which he’s played in 2021-22. The Burlington, Ontario, native might not be much of a playmaker, but if he’s provided a scoring chance, most of the time he’s taken full advantage of it.
While positioned next to forwards @Dominic Toninato and @Adam Brooks on the Jets’ fourth line, Malott will aim to make an immediate impact in a depth role.
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