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Pilot's Logbook: Chris Thorburn

As the off-season starts up, we review the play of all the Jets players; next up is sometimes third liner Chris Thorburn.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports


Oh Chris Thorburn. Where to start? Chris Thorburn is a NHL player as so far as he is in the NHL and plays hockey. Beyond that Thorburn is best described as a pylon in the way of a young player making the roster out of camp. Thorburn has managed to survive for eight seasons in the NHL, all with the same organization. This is rather remarkable when one thinks about it as marginal NHLers usually move from team to team, organization to organization with stints in the AHL on occasion. Thorburn's ability to stick with one team is almost admirable.

Aside from his ability to play in the NHL for one organization longer than most players, Thorburn has a rather astonishing ability to not get scratched while doing very little in the small amount of useful things for the Winnipeg Jets when he played. A point of greater concern for the Jets should be that while he did play in almost every game this season, he was not trusted enough to play regular fourth line minutes.

This has to be a concern for the Jets going forward. Not only did the entire fourth line get filled in by most fourth lines in the NHL, they did so playing less minutes than the average fourth liner in the NHL. When the Jets face injuries at forward, Thorburn is usually the one to move up in the line-up, but he tends to drag lines down which means that players who are injured cannot be properly rested for the lack of good replacements who are trusted by the coaching staff.

The important thing to remember here is that this chart is covers multiple seasons and that means that Thorburn's slightly better seasons were also covered. His average ice time is extremely low for a fourth liner and that includes multiple stints on the second and third lines. His scoring is also higher than the average fourth liner, but again he has played on the second and third line for long stretches of the past two seasons.


Thorburn's contract makes him nearly untradeable and because of the limit on how much can be buried in the AHL under the current CBA, the Winnipeg Jets are probably stuck with Thorburn on the team. One way to get out of paying him the full value of his contract to play for the Jets is for them to simply trade him and retain some of his salary. This way they can avoid paying him and his replacement while still benefitting from some cap relief, much like sending him to the AHL would provide them.

Chris Thorburn is not a real NHL player any more. He is paid quite well for a fourth liner who does not seem to have the full trust of the coaching staff. He is part of the problem for the Jets going forward as having no fourth line hurt them this year. In order to fix that problem Kevin Cheveldayoff has to be willing to make some hard decisions in regards to certain veterans on the team and make room for youth and skill to reign supreme.