Where do the Jets go from here? With roughly a month and a half to get the training camp roster solidified, that's the sentence that's rattling thru my head as I begin to write this piece. Aside from the Evander Kane poke-the-tiger radio interview, and the Micheal Frolik salary arbitration case, and in having attended the prospect camp on Thursday, I can clearly say that Chevy and crew have more questions than answers going forward.
Kane and Frolik have earned the right to lay claim to two spots on the top two lines. What they choose to do with them is up to them! I'm not concerned with Frolik. Kane has stated he's training to come in ready! Help us, help you! That's should be his motivation...train and perform out of 'Peg Purgatory! Help the team help him, If that's what he wants!
Micheal Hutchinson is the number 2 goalie going forward, and I hope he can push Ondrej Pavelec! However, Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck were standouts for me at prospect camp. Side by side movement was more fluid and defined rather than rushed and jerky. Both stayed on their skates longer, rather than dropping to their knees sooner. Both took high, hard shots off the facemask without flinching...seriously! With the first year of Hutch's contract being a two-way, the pressure is on him not to lose out to either one of them.
Scott Kosmachuk and Nikolaj Ehlers are horseshoes and hand grenades close to making the big club. They were crisper, sharper, faster and somewhat more aggressive than their prospect camp counterparts. Their on-ice chemistry was apparent, and others around them were on the outside looking in. With Mark Scheifele centering them, this potentially could be the third line the Jets were hoping for. But...
What about Nic Petan? He was also crisp and sharper, with an edge in the leadership department. With Mark Scheifele penciled in as the third line centre, Nic will have to be unfortunately sent down. But...
What about Eric O'Dell? He gradually made his way onto the Jets roster as the season progressed last year. Surely he must be ready to contribute on a regular basis? If I'm up to speed, the RFA has yet to sign his qualifying offer. He can play either centre or wing, likely displacing Eric Tangradi to the press box on regular occasion, unless Jim Slater isn't fully recovered from off season hip surgery, then he's a go at centre for the fourth line. But...
What about defensive/ offensive juggernaut Dustin Byfuglien? If the two aforementioned rookies impress the brass enough in training camp, does this open the door for Big Buff to return to the defensive game he so desperately wants to return too? Buff will have to earn it! Or, is he kept as a forward, and possibly misplacing someone else? And, on what line? There's currently one open spot on the defense, unless Joshua Morrissey or Brenden Kitchton come to camp and stand out, and assuming Grant Clitsome has returned to form from back surgery. If not, then there could be two.
Slater and Clitsome are two guys that may have earned their previously held, lower hanging fruit roster spots. How they perform in training camp will be reflective upon their training and recovery.
Don't get me started on Chris Thorburn!
And what about free agents? With the rookie standouts shining like angels atop a Christmas tree, does Chevy pull the plug on plugging a few precious spots? I would not be surprised if a few professional try-out invites are sent out, rather than free agent signings. After all, who wants to sign a free agent who didn't work his ass off over the summer...come into camp ready to rock rather than sign and sit. Local boys Dustin Penner and Jordin Tootoo are maybe candidates. Perhaps Peter Mueller is too. Micheal Del Zotto maybe as well.
And what about Kevin Hayes, the Chicago Blackhawks 1st round pick who has yet to sign. If he doesn't sign, he'll be a free agent on Aug 15th, despite being subject to an entry level contract. Intriguing! However, he does have one thing against him...he wants a roster spot given to him! A top 6 roster spot! He has to earn it! And Kane and Frolik are not about to hand theirs over! And Kosmachuk and Ehlers want one too.
Hayes has to fight! For his right! to earn a roster spot!
In conclusion, maybe Chevy and Crew are sitting around in Capgeek like the rest of us, looking over the draft and develop squad that's accumulated, gleefully rubbing their hands together like Ebenezer Scrooge counting his pennies. Or maybe he's loosing sleep nightly, wishing and wanting the line up that will earn him the Stanley Cup. After all, Chevy has to fight! For his right! To...hoist the Stanley Cup! And only the team he puts on the ice can do that for him.
Comments are welcome.