The Winnipeg Jets Have No Roster Space

Do The Winnipeg Jets Have Room for Prospects? — 

First off, I will need to give you my definition of prospects.  Basically it is any player under 25 years old not playing on the big club.  That includes professional players playing for the St. John’s IceCaps and the Ontario Reign, as well as the many amateur prospects playing in the WHL, OHL, QMJHL, NCAA and so on. 

What brought on this question? 

Well, it started with the signing of Chris Thorburn and Adam Pardy by the Jets and the signing of Zach Redmond by division rival, Colorado Avalanche.  I’ve always been of the belief that the bottom pair/depth defenceman as well as the fourth line/press box dwellers are interchangeable/replaceable.  Especially on teams that haven’t seen post season play in almost a decade!

When I was looking at the Winnipeg Jets depth chart and possible positions available I kind of shuttered.

For a team that needs a change it really didn’t leave any roster opening for new comers.

Hypothetical lines based on last years final game line-up:

1. Ladd/Little/Frolik*

2Kane/Scheifele/Wheeler

3O’Dell?/Perreault/Byfuglien

4Tangradi/Slater/Thorburn/Peluso  

1. Enstrom/Bogosian

2. ???????/Trouba

3. Stuart/Postma – Pardy/Clitsome 

1. Pavelec/Hutchinson

It seems to me that the Winnipeg Jets have four “bottom pair” defencemen under contract and four “fourth liners”.  I’m not going to get into goaltending because it’s been done to death.  It is what it is.  For now! 

Based on the improvements the Winnipeg Jets Central Division rivals have made this off season by trading or UFA signings, the question I need to ask is:  Does this team, as currently constructed, look like a team that’s going to challenge for a playoff spot?  

Even the most optimistic Winnipeg Jets fan should be concerned.  

So, counting Frolik (still unsigned), that makes 21 players under contract.  If I’m an Eric O’Dell, Carl Klingberg, Patrice Cormier, etc, I’m thinking that Zach Redmond probably made the correct decision in moving on from the Jets organisation.  Where is their opportunity here?  There were a couple more that moved on but Redmond was the best of the bunch so we’ll concentrate on him.  Was Zach Redmond the first of many to read the writing on the wall?

Right now it looks like Michael Hutchinson will be the only player to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.  Based on his stellar play in the final part of the AHL season and the IceCaps playoff run, you would hope he would get a good look.  Jets fans certainly won’t forget the three games he played at the end of the season for Winnipeg. He look confident and poised.

Jets-Bruins-8

Michael Hutchinson             photo by Shawn Coates

 

What happens if some kid in camp looks good and deserves a good look?  Maybe 2013 1st round pick Josh Morrissey grabs a spot or Guelph sniper Scott Kosmachuk challenges for a job.  Hasn’t Eric O’Dell earned a shot in Winnipeg?  For O’Dell it’s either Winnipeg or bye-bye because he’d never clear waivers to be sent back to St. John’s.

I know this sounds a little pessimistic but I want to see players from St. John’s and all of our prospects have equal footing at main camp. The team should be selected based on “ability” not “loyalty” or “contract status”.

Time for Maurice’s stamp

This will be Coach Paul Maurice’s first Winnipeg Jets training camp and a lot of fans will be interested to see if he is his own boss or following orders.  We don’t know for a fact that ex-Jets Coach, Claude Noel, had outside influences making some of his decisions but it was whispered a few times over the last three years.

It’s one thing to live and die with your core but the bottom end of this roster is still a mess.  Not that I have anything against Chris Thorburn but, his re-signing just didn’t make any sense.  Do we need Peluso and Thorburn?  

The optimistic part of me will say it’s still very early in the summer and that the Winnipeg Jets have plenty of time to get their roster in order.  

The not so optimistic side of me would say what have you seen that would lead you to such optimism?  Well, I’m putting my faith in Paul Maurice.  I’m hoping he can breath new life into the Jets organisation and start moving forward.

I know the Jets mantra of “Draft and Develop” has become a buzz word in Winnipeg.  All teams try to draft and develop.  That is only part of building a team.  Going into year four, the Winnipeg Jets have two players they have drafted and developed, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.  That’s not a lot especially when you factor in that it doesn’t look like they have left much wiggle room for new players. Maybe, they give Eric O’dell the third line left wing spot and the roster is done.  

Do you think that will be enough?

 

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Comments

  1. patti dawn swansson says

    Well said, Mitch.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Thanks, I’m probably overstating the obvious. I have to admit I’m very confused on this teams vision right now.

  2. Darryl Manchulenko says

    Nice piece…without a doubt Chevy has painted the team/coach/prospects into a tough corner. Maurice might be the only one, by virtue of his 4 year contract, to set a few things right on this back end of the lineup.

  3. Thesawch says

    I too don’t understand the vision the jets are going . Each month goes by I loose a little confidence in Chevy. If we don’t make the playoffs and don’t end up with 1st or 2nd draft pick Chevy must be fired. Another top 10 pick won’t cut it for me. I too have the feeling that no matter how well some prospects do at camp they won’t make the team just like 1 or 2 players last year in my honest opinion.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      agreed …. leave some room for development on your roster especially when the “message” is draft & develop. I understand you want your key prospects to play big minutes wherever the end up but there was no need to load up on the 4th line & then sign Pardy and let Redmond go.

  4. Terry Sharman says

    Good article, Mitch. I love Thorburn but couldn’t understand his signing. Pardy I get, but at some point we need to take a chance on what our system has to offer. Was really disappointed to see Redmond go & don’t understand Postma sitting in the press box game in & game out.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Thanks Terry …. Postma was on a 1-way deal and had the unfortunate injury/illness so that hurt his development. We still don’t know what we have in Postma. He still has upside IMO.

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