by Brandt Corbin
When Kevin Cheveldayoff and Craig Heisinger were put in charge of the Winnipeg Jets it was made rather obvious that one of their missions were to make the team tougher to play against. The signings of Vancouver Canuck forwards Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien proved that point. But, with Rypien’s sudden passing, out goes one of the teams toughest player. Does the team regroup and rethink about the approach? Or do they turn to other options? What about plan b, c or d be?
Plan A> Free agents/ PTO
I see three free agents who at this point (mid-August) would accept a PTO (Professional Tryout Offer). All three have huge size and aggression.
a) Brad Winchester is a large forward who has some skill, arguably more than Rypien. Winchester is a 6’5 228 pound left winger, his career best numbers were 2008-09 he scored 13 goals and 21 points in 64 games.
b) Troy Bodie is a younger forward same kind of size as Winchester. He’s played in 107 NHL games scoring 6 goals and 11 assists.
c) The third journeyman forward is Aaron Voros. He is coming off of a 3 year deal that earned him 1 million per season. His career highs are 8 goals & 16 points in 2008-09.
The next question about those three is this. Are they an upgrade over current Winnipeg Jet Chris Thornburn. Is the team looking for a “enforcer” who knows his role? Do the three players mentioned above want to be the “designated tough guy”. Having to scrap the Matt Carkner’s, Eric Godard’s or Trevor Gillies every night is not overly appealing. Then again they might have to scrap every other night if they want to play in the NHL.
Plan B> Colton Orr
Some of you are stunned while others are scratching their heads, but hear me out on this one.
Only reason I’m mentioning Orr’s name, is the Leafs also signed fellow tough guy Jay Rosehill to a guaranteed 1-way contract. That contract for Rosehill almost ensures his spot on the Leafs 23 man roster. Does this make Orr expendable? Yes/No, but Rosehill over his two years so far, has shown the Leafs brass he can be a fulltime enforcer. The risky thing about the Jets taking on Orr is this. Is he 100% from last year’s concussions? Last thing you want is a fighter not wanting to fight.
Orr of course would be a hometown boy. Playing for the gets would likely become a dream come true for Orr.
Plan C> Claim Guillaume Desbiens on waivers
One would assume Guillaume Desbiens would not make the Calgary Flames unless he beats out Pierre-Luc Leblond and/or Tim Jackman for the tough-guy job. Desbiens has a history with both Cheveldayoff and Heisinger, the forward played two seasons with the Chicago Wolves (with Cheveldayoff) and three seasons with the Moose (with Heisinger). The common theme in this off-season, bring in players who they are familiar with, so this acquisition is not out of the question. The winger from Alma Quebec is starving for one more chance to make the NHL, he has 13 games played with the Vancouver Canucks.