Sami Niku was with the Winnipeg Jets for most of the season due to injuries to the defence. Niku played 30 games with the Jets and 20 with the Manitoba Moose meaning he spent a lot of time in the press box watching. While he was with the Moose he scored 12 points including three goals and with the Jets four points including one goal.
Niku is a really good example of a player’s stats not matching the eye test. I do not know if it was because of his partners or because he rarely played games and then was thrown into the deep end, but the results were not there for Niku. Because this is the case if Paul Maurice did not trust him in the NHL, and he had reason not to based on the results, Maurice should have sent him down to the AHL to play more and work on what the Jets think he needs to work on to become a NHL defenceman.
The raw tools are all there though. He skates well and he moves the puck well. He still needs to work on his reads at a NHL level and definitely needs to be playing regularly wherever he plays. The fact that Niku would not play for a month at a time and then be thrown in the deep end does not set anyone up for success. If they had him in the AHL during that month and then threw him in the deep end, he would at least not be coming in cold.
Niku may or may not have been ready for the NHL this season. This past season says he is not, but the Jets did not let him play nearly enough in any league to truly come to this conclusion. Hopefully, he plays this year and then we can see what he really is.