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With Laine Concussed, the Winnipeg Jets should fill his spot with a play-driving forward

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Joel Armia, not Drew Stafford, should be filling in for Patrik Laine.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Stafford has been put in a bad spot by the Winnipeg Jets coaching staff. He has been tapped on to replace Patrik Laine on a line with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. It is not because Stafford has had a poor season; it is because while Laine was not a driver of possession his skill was good enough to more than compensate for his shortcomings. Stafford is in the same boat as Laine possession-wise, but no longer has the skill to make up the difference possession-wise.

The Jets lack the player who has the skill to play on the Scheifele line right now. They do however have players who lack in finishing skills, but excel at driving play who would fit on that line in a heart beat. A player like Joel Armia would work in Laine’s spot because he would be able to help Ehlers and Scheifele score without impeding them offensively. Armia might actually help those two defensively.

Injuries to key players happen. Unless the Winnipeg Jets call up a skilled player like Jack Roslovic or Kyle Connor to replace Laine in the lineup the best answer is not to put Stafford in his spot; it is to put in a player who does the little things well and helps his teammates generate shots on goal.

There is a place in the game for players like Stafford who score goals and put up points, but do not drive possession. The cautionary tale about these types of players are that you have to know when to cut bait with them: it seems like age 30 is a good place to start. Stafford has passed this threshold. It is not his fault. For a long time he was a capable NHLer scoring-wise, even if he left a lot to be desired on the shot-generation side of the game. He is no longer scoring like he used to. He is not helping the Jets anymore.

While there is a place for the Staffords of the NHL, there is also a place for the Armias of the NHL; low scoring forwards who push the puck up the ice. These players should not be regular top six players, but when injuries hit make excellent replacements in the short term because they help scorers get the puck to the areas that the puck needs to be in to score. This is a skill set unto itself and is one that teams can capitalize on. It allows them to maximize their assets and save money by having low-scoring, but effective forwards. This works really well for budget teams like the Winnipeg Jets or a team undergoing a lot of injuries. To cope with these injuries, teams can accept that any player replacing an injured player is going to score less than the injured player if that player is in the top six. They can also accept that there are other ways to replace a player than simply trying to replace their scoring, replacing the creation of scoring opportunities might be enough to help weather the loss of the key player.