Game three of the Winnipeg Jets 2014-2015 NHL preseason takes place tonight. The Jets will take on central division foe, the Minnesota Wild. This marks the second time the two teams have faced off this preseason. Both teams have recently reassigned players from camp. The Jets reassigned Axel Blomqvist, Eric Comrie, Chase De Leo, Jan Kostalek, Jimmy Lodge, Nelson Nogier to their respective junior clubs. Austen Brassard, Brenden Kichton, Scott Kosmachuk, Julian Melchiori, Jussi Olkinoura, Ryan Olsen, and Will O`Neill have been returned to the AHL. The Wild reassigned Corbin Baldwin, Brady Brassart, Raphael Bussieres, John Curry, Kurits Gabriel, Alex Gudbranson, Johan Gustafsson, Colton Jobke, Zach Mitchell, Ryan Walters, Dylan Labbe and Hunter Warner.
With both teams rosters trimmed, position battles become ever so crucial and the regular season is fast approaching. The Jets have opened the preseason .500 with a 1-1 record. Meanwhile the Wild have started off the preseason 0-2.
The game starts at 7pm CT and can be seen on TSN3. You can also listen to the action on TSN 1290.
The Dangling Dane: It’s hard to miss Nikolaj Ehlers when he is on the ice. His of flashes skill, speed and offensive creativity are highly praised by many. The Jets 2014 first round pick’s elite skillset helped him pass the 100-point plateau with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. It is only Ehlers’s size that makes people pause at the thought of him immediately joining the Jets. Ehlers has showed flashes of skill in his first two preseason games, but he hasn't dominated and at times he's looked out of place physically. Tonight Ehlers will be given an excellent opportunity to create offense, as he will be skating on a line with Jets captain Andrew Ladd and centre Bryan Little. It will be interesting to see what he can do.
Lowry Joins The Top Line: The Jets widely speculated first line of Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler will be split apart tonight. Kane will sit out tonight’s contest due to injury. The duo of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler will be joined by Adam Lowry. Lowry is on many people’s radars as a prospect that could earn a NHL roster spot. Lowry is hard to miss. His 6’5 frame stands out. Size can be a valuable asset up the middle or along the left wing. If Lowry shows well along side NHL skill players, is could help Lowry’s case for making with the big club.
Don't Sleep on Lipon: JC Lipon will be stepping into preseason action for the first time this year. His name doesn't always resonate with Jets fans, but he remains a live prospect and it is worth noting that he's actually outproduced the highly touted Adam Lowry in each of the last two seasons. He could be that underdog that makes the club and will surely be on the radar for a call up. Tonight, Lipon lines up alongside Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. These are the kind of linemates he could reasonably expect to play with upon first call up. Proving his worth in some preseason looks will go a long way towards solidifying his place within the organization. Lipon will be making a case for Chevy to inject youth, offensive upside and some grit to the bottom six.
Who Will Rise Up Between The Pipes? Last season, Josh Harding, Ilya Bryzgalov, Darcy Kuemper, John Curry and Niklas Backstrom appeared between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild. Out of the 5 goalies, Josh Harding appeared in the most games, with 29. The Wild will be without Harding for a while as he is out with a non-hockey injury.As it stands, the trio of Ilya Bryzgalov (who was brought back on a PTO), Darcy Kuemper (recently signed a 2 year 2.5 million dollar contract) and the often injured, Niklas Backstrom will compete for the starting job. Tonight Niklas Backstrom is expected to play the full game with Darcy Kuemper serving as his backup.
Will Dumba Earn A Roster Spot? Mathew Dumba earned a roster spot with the Wild last year, but some early season struggles saw him sent back to juniour. He will have another go this year and the Wild are hoping to see more consistency in his game. If he can show this consistency in the preseason, he may be able to avoid some seasoning with the Iowa Wild.
Will Nino Niederreiter take the next step? Niederreiter enters the season having just signed a 3 year 8 million dollar deal. Once a prolific junior player and a first round NHL draft pick, Nino has yet to come close to the numbers he put up in junior. With Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle ahead of him on the depth chart. This depth will likely lead to a battle for ice time and Nino will need to take steps if he wants to increase his share.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
If Not Bryzgalov… Ryan Suter who is capable of winning a Norris Trophy, boo that man.
Final Score Prediction