With the Rookie Camp over all eyes will turn to the main club today as 43 players have been invited out to the Winnipeg Jets inaugural training camp that starts today with physicals. The boys will hit the ice at the MTS Iceplex on Saturday and Sunday and will be conducted between the Iceplex and MTS Centre until October 1.
Their first preseason action is a split squad game against Columbus on Tuesday September 20th. Their last preseason game is Friday, September 30th vs Nashville. In total the Jets will have 7 preseason games to get their roster down from 43 players to the final roster of 12 forwards, 6 defenceman and 2 goalies and any additional press box players they want to keep.
Heading into camp the toughest spot in the lineup to crack will be the back end as the Jets look pretty set at Defence and Goal, especially after the signing of Zach Bogosian the other day. The top 4 defence are all but guaranteed to be Byfuglien, Enstrom, Bogosian and Hainsey with Stuart, Oduya and Jones likely to round out the corps. While prospects Zach Redmond, Paul Postma and Cody Sol would love the chance to make the NHL this season unless they stand on their heads during camp and force Cheyvaldayoff to trade away to make room. Either way the Jets and in turn the IceCaps should have a strong back end to build around. We also can’t rule out Derek Meech either but competition will be tough.
While David Abeschier has been invited out to the Jets camp he too will have to stand on his head to unseat Mason as Pavlec’s back up and it;s unlikely he’ll be offered a spot in St. John’s with Pasqualle and Carrozzi both fighting for playing time there.
Where the attention will be in camp is up front, while there are some players locked in and some players that are on one way deals that would otherwise be bubble players to make this club, I think it would be a safe bet to say the Jets might be paying a few NHL salaries in St. John’s this year.
Ladd, Anthropov, Kane, Little, Wheeler, Burmistrov and Fehr are all safe bets to make the club and will battle with each other to make the top six forwards. The battle on the roster will be for the final 5 forward spots. The recent signing of Kyle Wellwood on a $750,000 one year deal does not guarantee him a spot on the roster, but it’s likely he’ll crack the lineup and spend sometime in the press box and sometimes on the ice.
Rookie Camp standouts Carl Klingberg, Jason Gregroire and 1st overall pick Mark Scheifele will make decisions difficult for the Jets and don’t be surprised if one or more of them make the club. Scheifele might get a chance to start with the Jets at the beginning of the season but with the Jets devotion to player development one more year in Juniors under Dale Hawerchuck might just be the best long term option for Scheifele.
Tanner Glass, Tim Stapleton, Jim Slater, Patrice Courmier, Chris Thorburn, Ben Maxwell, Kendal Mcardle and an outside chance for Eric O’Dell and Ivan Telguin will compete with Wellwood, Klingberg, Gregroire and Scheifele for the final forward spots.
That’s 13 forwards plus the others at camp battling to win out five to seven spots depending how many they decide to keep at the NHL level. More good news for the IceCaps as they should have some tough decisions to make for their final roster as well.
The below is how we think the roster will end up come October 1st.
Forwards: Ladd, Anthropov, Kane, Wheeler, Little, Burmistrov, Fehr, Glass, Slater, Thorburn, Scheifele, Wellwood, Courmier
Defence: Byfuglien, Enstrom, Bogosian, Hainsey, Stuart, Oduya, Jones
Goal: Pavlec, Mason