by Brandt Corbin
For 9 Winnipeg Jets, tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is the biggest game of the season, for a few of them maybe the biggest game of their career. Tonight’s performance will determine whether they’ll be with the big club to start the season while for some of these guys, this is their last chance to make a big league team.
Three re-guards fighting for #7
Three specific Winnipeg Jets are in tough, those three are defenseman Brett Festerling, Randy Jones and Derek Meech. Unless a trade is made, the top six is already set (Bogosian, Byfuglien, Hainsey, Oduya, Stuart Enstrom) these three are on the outside looking in. Despite Meech having a very strong camp, and playing the best hockey in his career, rookie Paul Postma has been better and all but earning the #7 spot.
Festerling must have the game of his life, reason being he and Meech both have a two way contract, meaning they do not have to go through waivers unlike Jones. If Jones clears waivers, he’s likely to be buried in the AHL all year long, because the team would have to put him through re-entry waivers.
Four spots open up front?
Excluding Tim Stapelton & Kyle Wellwood, I see as many as four spots are uncounted for up front going into tonight’s game. Six forwards tonight are fighting for the final four spots.
Janne Pesonen has one more chance tonight to prove he’s a top six forward. He’s on a line tonight with Alex Burmistrov & Nik Antropov.
Mark Scheifele has proved he’s talented and consistent enough to become atleast a third line center. His play along is the reason why I see Wellwood & Stapelton being expendable. He is slated to play with Evander Kane tonight.
Jason Gregoire will play alongside Kane & Scheifele tonight. He’s been inconsistent so far, good shift followed by a bad shift. It would be a shock to see him start the season with the Jets.
Ben Maxwell’s play has slowly been improving thus far. His downfall is the numbers game. With Scheifele and Slater ahead of him, his chance of making the team will be as a 13th or 14th forward.
Patrice Cormier & Troy Bodie have played identical games. Both have size and have used it in the off-season, both lead the Jets with 2 fights each. The only problem with these two forwards, other teams are not intimidated by them. Both in Nashville and in St. John’s the Jets were pushed around from beginning to end, too often. The team’s best players have been ran at and eventually will be injured.
In my opinion this is where David Koci comes into the equation. I’m not going to sit here and say he’ll make the team, but it’s 50/50. Koci has the “loose cannon” reputation, when he’s on the bench you won’t Chris Neil and Zach Stortini running around as often. If they do, you’ll have a dance with Koci or he’ll run at your best player. Now I’m not saying guys will stop running around, but it will happen allot less often than the past week.