Jets F Adam Lowry Stepping Up At Perfect Time During Contract Year
By Thomas Hall3 years ago
Following an unpredictable off-season, the Winnipeg Jets entered this season with plenty of depth up the middle of their forward group, although they couldn’t have possibly predicted that their top three centers would hit the ground running during the first month of the season.
With forward @Bryan Little’s playing days likely behind him, the Jets needed to acquire a second-line center to play alongside wingers @Patrik Laine – who’s since been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets – and @Nikolaj Ehlers in 2021. Bringing back a familiar face, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff reacquired center @Paul Stastny from the Las Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for defenseman @Carl Dahlstrom and a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick.
Once newcomer @Pierre-Luc Dubois enters the fold, this club will become even deeper regardless of which player lines up in the middle on the second line. Along with some incredible depth in the top six, they also feature one of the top third-line centers in the league in @Adam Lowry, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Though Lowry is known for his defensive capabilities and has never posted 30 points in a single season, the 27-year-old has taken his game up to another level during the final year of his three-year, $8.75 million contract that was signed back in 2018. Increasing his offensive output, he’s currently on pace to shatter his previous career-highs in goals (15) and points (29) by the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Through seven games this season, the 6′ 5″ forward has averaged a career-high 16:32 minutes of ice time per game, producing four goals, seven points, two power-play points, 0.57 goals per game, 1.00 point per game, 18 hits, 15 shots on net, three takeaways, one block and a 47.2% faceoff percentage.
In comparison, the left-hander averaged 14:58 minutes of ice time and generated four goals, 10 points, 0.08 goals per game, 0.20 points per game, 137 hits, 112 shots on net, 31 takeaways, 22 blocks and a 53.8% faceoff percentage over 49 games last season.
While Lowry has been making a strong impact in the offensive zone so far this season, it’s even more impressive his performance in the defensive zone hasn’t suffered due to his recent surge, as he’s still made it a priority to clear the front of the net for his goaltender and to intercept pucks from his opponent as well. Showcasing these exact traits on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers, the former third-round pick moved forward @Jesse Puljujärvi out of the eyesight of goaltender @Connor Hellebuyck several times in the third period, allowing him to make numerous key saves.
Even though he’s slightly struggling in the faceoff circle right now, the seventh-year pro has created a faceoff percentage above 50% in each of his last four seasons, meaning there’s a strong chance he’ll turn things around in that department very shortly.
Considering Lowry is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, it’s entirely possible he’ll want to explore his options on the open market and discover how other organizations view him, which he has the right to do. But if he continues scoring at a high level, there’s no question the veteran center will garner plenty of attention next off-season.
From Winnipeg’s perspective, they’re expected to own just under $20 million in cap space during the 2021-22 campaign, however, the front office will be tasked with signing defenseman @Neal Pionk, who’s set to become a restricted free agent, to an extension. With Stastny’s contract expiring at the end of this season, it’ll also be crucial for management to locate another top-six forward before next season opens.
So if Lowry’s demands reach beyond the Jets’ ideal price point, they may be forced to make the difficult decision to let him walk, although that’d certainly leave a massive hole on the third line – a vacancy that could prove to be challenging to fill.
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