From the moment he was drafted, many Jets fans have projected JC Lipon as the long-term replacement for Arctic Ice Hockey favourite Chris Thorburn. In his nine games at the NHL level this season, the 22-year-old looks to have shown he is more than capable of replacing Thorburn.
Lipon spent most of 2015-16 assigned to the AHL, where he put up 30 points in 45 games. While sounding unimpressive, those numbers are better than they first appear when considering how abysmal the Manitoba Moose were. Lipon's tally ranked 8th on the team, just behind Nic Petan and his 32 points in 47 games. He also coupled this productive AHL points per game rate with 87 PIM, 3rd behind Darren Kramer and Ryan Olsen. It's this combination of grit and offensive ability which makes him an interesting fourth line option.
It's hard to judge Lipon based upon his nine game NHL sample size, not only because of the limited games but also the mere 06:58 ATOI he played over that stint. For perspective, only Patrice Cormier and Anthony Peluso played less TOI/GP. In addition to decent fancy stats, Lipon did manage to post his first (and thus far only) NHL point, a secondary assist during Winnipeg's 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 5th:
The problem with Lipon playing on the big club next season is the logjam of forwards ahead of him. At the moment, there are anywhere between seventeen to twenty-two skaters vying for thirteen to fourteen forward spots. It appears Lipon may be on the outside looking in, which would mean another season with the Manitoba Moose. There should be no issue with his playing on the Moose though, so long as one believes there's no such thing as "over-ripening" a player.
Despite seemingly ready to replace Thorburn as soon as next season, the odds are stacked against him. This is a good thing for fans though, because it's showcasing how the Jets have started adding more high-end talent, and now have enough to push lower skilled players down. But is that the best plan of action?
IMHO- Someone like J.C Lipon has a really solid chance of cracking the #NHLJets fourth line. Has worked hard and would be better to play 1/2— Jacob Stoller (@NHLStoller) April 8, 2016
...2/2 limited fourth line minutes rather than putting a skilled scorer like Petan on the 4th line over top minutes in AHL.— Jacob Stoller (@NHLStoller) April 8, 2016
What did you think of JC Lipon's season? Do you think he has a shot next year? Let us know your thoughts down in the comment section below!