by Brandt Corbin
With training camp being seven weeks away, barring a change in philosophy, most of the top six forwards are edged in stone. Ladd, Antropov, Kane, Wheeler and Little are in, Fehr and Burmistrov will fight for the final spot. How would one sit back and grade the top two lines? One would assume it will be at least status quo compared to last year, but one would assume they’d be much improved. The main reason being Wheeler and Little would be entering their prime, with Kane not far behind. If Winnipeg wants to contend now, they’d be better off getting another top six forward, mainly because they’d be two/thirds there way to a good third line with Fehr and Burmistrov.
It would take a minor miracle for Slater, Rypien, Glass and Thornburn not to be in the opening night line-up (all have one-way NHL contracts.) The four forwards are all aggressive and feisty, the same way the team’s leaning towards playing next year. Center Tim Stapleton is the other forward currently with a one-way contract. His status may not be as safe, mainly because his diminutive status, plus his five goals in 45 games isn’t overly appealing.
Bring in vets are give the kids a chance?
Think about the early 1990’s. That is when the Detroit Red Wings gave Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and Kurt Maltby a chance to be an NHL regular, do you think it paid off? The Winnipeg Jets are in the same spot, they’ve got a number of kids knocking on the door. At the same time, there are a load of veterans who remain unsigned. Some of them at this time are seeking a low one way contract, and as time goes on, some will be be happy a tryout offer.
Would you rather see kids like Patrice Cormier, Kendal Mcardle, Carl Klingberg, Spencer Machacek, Aaron Gagnon or Riley Holzapfel get a really long look. Or would you rather see vets such as Chris Clark, Ethan Moreau, Mike Grier, or Jarko Ruutu get a chance, possibly bumping out one of the rookies?
My personal belief is this, the Jets are more than one or two players aware from being a Cup Contender. Those older players are without contracts for a reason. Not only are they on the back nine of their playing careers, the question has to be asked can they keep up with the pace of todays NHL? Are the kids going to make more mistakes on a nightly basis? Of course they are, but the rewards are going to be much higher with them in the line-up. For all we know, Klingberg could be a top six forward by the all star break, Machacek could be another Maltby in the making, and who says Cormier cannot be another Keith Primeau.
Take the chance and give the kids a break. Let them start reaching their potential, for most of those previously named (prospects) what's another year in the AHL going to prove? And by chance the kids struggle early, half of the vets named earlier will be unsigned come November 1, so go and sign one then.