This isn't a prediction, this is simply what I would do if I was in charge - complete with reasoning as to why.
Eric Tangradi is easily the best of this bubble bunch in my opinion. Nobody else in this bubble mix is as solid in the neutral zone and nobody else has shown they can successfully carry the puck into the offensive zone. Tangradi's neutral zone play is a huge asset for his linemates in transitional hockey.
In addition to these little things he does well, Tanger has also flashed some minty offensive instincts at times. No, most of these chances haven't resulted in goals - but Tangradi is due for a little puck luck and the fact that he creates offensive opportunities on occasion is enough to set him apart from the rest of the pack. He is really the only bubble player - on this list - that I would be comfortable moving into the top 6 (for stints) in case of injury. He is not ideal for that role, but he looks to be a fine 3rd or 4th left wing to me.
Halischuk plays a really simple chip and chase game - similar to that of James Wright - but Hali can actually put the puck in the back of net. Like Wright, he can kill penalties and in my opinion he has done enough in the preseason - despite limited opportunities - to earn roster spot. Hali is by no means a complete player, but he doesn't scare me as a bottom 6 winger.
Admittedly I am not a huge proponent of goons in hockey and I still haven't seen enough of Peluso to know what else he brings to the table. He has looked sharp at times - at other times he has thrown pucks at nobody and given away possession. That being said, I believe Chevy and Noel would like to keep a fighter on the roster and if forced to choose between Peluso and Thorburn I am taking big Tony. Peluso is younger, a better fighter and better along the boards. There is also no chance that he would clear waivers if the Jets tried to waive him. He may spend a lot of time in the press box, but he is probably going to make the team.
By all accounts he is a great locker room guy, but very few accounts suggest he is any good at hockey. Even fewer suggest he is good at hockey fights. A big obstacle in waiving Thorburn is his loony toon salary. $866,667 is a lot of money for an AHLer - this number may also make him waiver proof. Will Chevy send such a hefty salary to the AHL? Is it worth it to keep another NHL body (debatable) in the system.
Zach Redmond's contract is the biggest strike against him. Even if his play warranted a stay. This move might have to be made strictly for asset management. If you waive Postma or Pardy there is a chance you lose them. The fact that he can be moved to the IceCaps without waivers means the Jets will have one more NHL caliber defender waiting in the wings if anybody gets hurt. Redmond will get a better look at a full time gig next year.
Tough Decisions (One more has to go)
Wright plays a simple game and he works hard, he can kill penalties and he will fight, but he really can't do much else. His inability to carry the puck up the ice and his complete lack of finish make him less than desirable in a top 9 role. His defensive game isn't great either, despite what many in the local media will tell you. James Wright isn't a horrid 4th liner, but I would like to see him cut simply so Noel can't play him in the top 6 - EVER AGAIN.
Cormier has come up through the Atlanta / Winnipeg system as a remnant of the Ilya Kovalchuk trade. He has been on the fringe of the roster over the last couple of years, but this year is his first year of waiver eligibility. Whether or not to waive him will be a rather interesting decision. Cormier's name may still hold some weight around the league and the kid has shown some ability in the faceoff circle. It will be interesting to see if Cheveldayoff chances sending him down. If he is sent down, would somebody claim him? I would probably keep him over Wright, but don't have a strong opinion one way or another.
I have long assumed Adam would spend most of this season with the #IceCaps. He himself is a Newfy and I figured the dollars on his deal were designed simply to deter a waiver claim. In my opinion Pardy really hasn't done anything to earn a spot over an incumbent. Another reason he may get waived is the a numbers game. Waiving Pardy gives Noel more time to make a decision on his forwards.
What Will Happen?
It will be interesting the see what the Winnipeg Jets' brain trust decides. If the decision is made purely based on contracts, we can say goodbye to Redmond, Cormier and Halischuk. If the decision is based on play, who knows which way they go. If it was up to me we'd see the following on opening night...
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Michael Frolik
Matt Halischuk - Jim Slater - Patrice Cormier
Toby Enstom - Dustin Byfuglien
Grant Clitsome - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Paul Postma, James Wright, Anthony Peluso
Chris Thorburn, Adam Pardy
St. John's IceCaps:
What would you do? Let us know. #whatwouldchevydo? We will know soon enough.
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