Jets line combos begin to take shape ... What about the D pairs? ... Petan shifts to wing — for now — to aid hopes of making the team ... Morrissey enjoys experience at Worlds
News and notes on the Jets
It’s more than sheer speculation, but it’s important to remember the start of the regular season remains several weeks away.
With the arrival of the first actual on-ice sessions at Winnipeg Jets training camp (on-ice fitness testing doesn’t count), many were wondering if head coach Paul Maurice might be tipping his hand on how things might look in terms of line combinations and defence pairings this season.
As is customary, it’s important to not read too much into Day 1, but you can’t completely ignore it either.
“I know one thing, the lines are never set in stone. They’re going to move over the course of the year,” Maurice said. “Part of this is training camp. We’ll move them around a bit, there’s not a lot of time — nine practices, seven games, and then the puck drops, so we won’t overexperiment. I’ve got a pretty clean idea right now who the top-six forwards are.”
With plenty of debate over how the top-six should look, Saturday’s sessions featured Patrik Laine playing on the left side of the first line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
“That’s where we started. At the end of the day, there’s still going to be movement in those six guys,” said Maurice, referring to his top two lines. “We’re going to move them around just to make sure they don’t get stale, but I’ll give this a run here for a while.”
Maurice isn’t worried about the perception that the Jets should be spreading out the goal-scoring beyond the top unit.
“You’ve got two guys who can really skate and lug the puck and you got a guy who can finish and I know he’s a 36-goal guy and the report will be I loaded up one line, but I put a 19-year-old with two veterans and one of those guys (Scheifele) is 24,” Maurice said. “In terms of experience on the ice, I like the idea of (Laine) playing with those types of veteran guys that can skate a lot.”
Bryan Little started with Mathieu Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers, while Adam Lowry was with Kyle Connor and Joel Armia, Matt Hendricks was with Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev and Jack Roslovic was between Shawn Matthias and Nic Petan.
In the afternoon session, Michael Sgarbossa was between Brendan Lemieux and Marko Dano.
The Jets open the pre-season schedule on Monday against the Minnesota Wild.
ABOUT THE D COMBOS
The first group also gave a glimpse of what the defence pairings might look like on opening night.
Josh Morrissey was with Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers was with newcomer Dmitry Kulikov, Dustin Byfuglien was with Logan Stanley and Tucker Poolman was with Toby Enstrom.
Stanley will be heading back to junior and Poolman is likely to need some seasoning with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League as he works his way back from bilateral shoulder surgery, but that would put the familiar pairing of Byfuglien and Enstrom back together.
Maurice explained he wanted to put Stanley with Byfuglien and Poolman with Enstrom for very specific reasons.
“Two big men. (Byfuglien) can show him things. Just by watching your partner, so that’s what I wanted,” Maurice said. “I wanted Poolman with Enstrom for the same reason. It’s how they talk. Tucker is a bright guy, cerebral guy, and Toby can sit and talk to you for days about hockey and things that he’s learned.”
Stanley, who was chosen 18th overall in the 2016 NHL draft, didn’t get into any pre-season action with the Jets last fall.
Might that change during his second NHL training camp?
“I want him to get through the first two practices,” Maurice said. “If he does that, more than likely we’ll see him in a game.”
Ben Chiarot is the leading candidate to be the seventh defenceman.
PETAN ON THE WING
Petan, who had one goal and 13 points in 54 games last season while averaging 10:54 of ice time, is in a battle to maintain his NHL roster spot and he’s starting training camp on the wing instead of his natural position of centre.
“That’s why he’s on the wing. I want to give him the best chance to make the team,” Maurice said. “Also, at his size, the wing is an easier place for him to play right now. He can be a little bit like Mathieu Perreault. He can be a little bit more dynamic when you get him out on the wings. That’s why he starts there.”
WEARING THE MAPLE LEAF
Morrissey relished the opportunity to suit up for Team Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship, taking home a silver medal after losing in a shootout to Sweden.
“It was a big thrill. I wasn’t really expecting it, wasn’t really sure I was going to get the call,” Morrissey said. “I was pretty thrilled to get the chance to play. Obviously, it was a tough way to lose in the shootout in the final, but a great experience. I think having the chance to play alongside some elite players in the NHL, guys that you’re shutting down some nights and going into the corners, you can see them up close and get to know them, pick their brain a little bit. It was great.
“Personally, I hope I don’t have the chance to go in the future because we’re in the playoffs, but it was a great experience and I was able to learn a lot from it.”
Jets’ Michael Sgarbossa (left) gets dumped by Chase De Leo on the ice during training camp yesterday. Both will be in tough to make the team.