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THE MANITOBA MOOSE - FORWARD PREVIEW:

THE MANITOBA MOOSE - FORWARD PREVIEW:

Dominic Toninato

CONTRACT: 2 yrs @ $750,000 AGE: 27 SIZE: 6'2" SHOOTS: L POSITION: C/LW

Toninato grew up playing his hockey in Minnesota and was drafted in the 5th round in 2012 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After being drafted, he spent 4 years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA), eventually making his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2017-18 season. Toninato got into 37 games that season, only managing to pick up 2 assists. The next year, he only dressed for 2 games in the NHL, potting his first NHL goal.

In 2019-20, Toninato moved onto the Florida Panthers where he played in 46 games, putting up 4 goals and 7 assists. He also got his first taste on NHL playoff hockey, playing 3 games without a point.

From 2017-18 to 2019-20, when not playing in the NHL, Toninato was plying his trade in the AHL where he was producing at close to a point every 2 games pace.

Toninato signed with the Jets for the 2020-21 season, spending the majority of the season on the Taxi Squad. He played 3 games for the Manitoba Moose (AHL), netting 3 goals. He dressed for 2 regular season games with the Jets, notching 1 assist. In 3 playoff games, he picked up 1 goal (a game winner).

A high-motor grinder, who can wreak havoc on opposing dmen with a strong forecheck, Toninato could contribute offensively if given top 6 minutes with the Moose. However, he will be competing for those minutes with the rest of the players on this list, so he could end up in a more defensive role. With the possibility of a call up to the Winnipeg Jets to fill a 4th line spot, his status is up in the air this season. After spending the majority of last year on the taxi squad, I'm betting he's just ready to see game action in whatever league.

Luke Johnson

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $750,000 AGE: 27 SIZE: 5'11" SHOOTS: R POSITION: C

Johnson first started playing hockey in North Dakota, eventually joining the Lincoln Stars of USHL for the 2011-12 campaign. He had a successful year, scoring 20 goals and 55 pts in 55 games. He followed up that season with 19 goals and 46 pts in 57 games, as well as 4 assists in 4 games for the USA at the WJAC-19.

The Chicago Blackhawks drafted Johnson in the 5th round (134th) of the 2013 NHL Draft and he joined the University of ND for the next 3 seasons: 2013-14 - 21 pts in 42 games, 2014-15 - 24 pts in 42 games, & 2015-16 - 21 pts in 43 games.

Johnson made his professional debut in the 2016-17 when he joined the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. His first season saw him dress for 73 games (17 pts), followed by a sophmore season with 73 games (30 pts).

In 2018-19, he put up 31 pts in 53 games with Rockford before being called up by the Chicago Blackhawks. In 15 games with the Hawks, Johnson was credited with 1 assist.

He moved onto the Minnesota Wild organization for the following season, playing in 42 games (31 pts) with Iowa (AHL) and 3 games (0 pts) with Minnesota. Last year saw Johnson spend the majority of the year on the taxi squad, but he managed to play 2 games (1 pt) with Iowa and 14 games (1 goal) with Minnesota.

After signing a 1 year contract with the Winnipeg Jets this year, Johnson's place in the Moose's lineup may be impacted by whether Perfetti remains with the Jets. He could end up centering the 2nd or 3rd lines and has shown that he can produce decent numbers at the AHL level.

CJ Suess

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $725,000 AGE: 27 SIZE: 5'11" SHOOTS: L POSITION: LW/C

Suess is another Minnesota-born player, who joined the Sioux Falls Stampede for the 2012-13 season. He debuted with 32 goals and 60 pts in 63 games, before adding 4 pts in 10 playoff games. The following season, Suess played in 53 regular season games (51 pts) and 3 playoff games (3 pts) with the Stampede. He also put up 3 pts in 4 games with the US National team at the WJAC-19.

In the 2014 NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Suess with their 5th round selection (129th).

The 2014-15 season saw Suess join the Minnesota State University, where he ended up playing for the next 4 seasons. He debuted with 28 pts in 37 games, a sophmore season of 25 pts in 41 games, and followed with 31 pts in 39 games in 2016-17. In his final season at MSU, Suess amassed 22 goals & 43 pts in 40 games, before making his professional debut with the Manitoba (AHL). He played in 6 games for the Moose, scoring a goal and an assist.

Suess got into 26 games with Manitoba the following season, scoring 8 goals and 12 pts. During the 2019-20 season, he played in his first NHL game (0 pts) with the Winnipeg Jets, as well as 57 games (27 pts) with the Moose.

Last season saw Suess suit up for 31 games with Manitoba, ending with 8 goals and 14 pts.

Suess can fill out a grinder role, while providing occasional offensive throughout the Moose's linup this season. With a roster full of options, Suess will have to play tenaciously in order to ensure his spot in the lineup. The ability to PK and switch to center should give him an edge on some of his competition.

Austin Poganski

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $750,000 AGE: 25 SIZE: 6'1" SHOOTS: R POSITION: RW

Poganski is one of many Minnesota-born players on the Jets roster and started his career with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. He got 2 pts in 2 games in his debut season (2012-13), before amassing 31 pts in 55 games the following year. Poganski represented the USA in 9 games as well, pocketing 3 pts.

The St. Louis Blues ended up drafting Poganski in the 4th round (110th) of the 2014 NHL Draft and he ended up joining the University of North Dakota. He played there for the following 4 years: 2014-15 - 14 pts/38 games, 2015-16 - 25 pts/44 games, 2016-17 - 25 pts/40 games, and 2017-18 - 20 pts/40 games. Poganski also made his professional debut in the 2017-18 season, playing 4 games (2 pts) with the San Antonio Rampage (AHL).

He started the next season with the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL, suiting up for 3 pts in 3 games before being called up to the Rampage, where he scored 31 pts in 59 games.

In 2019-20, Poganski put up 30 pts in 56 games with San Antonio before being called up by the St. Louis Blues for his NHL game (0 pts).

Last season saw Poganski spend the entire year on the taxi squad, other than getting 5 games with the Blues (0 pts).

As a rare right-handed forward on the Moose, Poganski should be able to find a spot this season. Has a history of decent production at the AHL level, so should be able to contribute offensively at times.

Jeff Malott

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $780,000 AGE: 25 SIZE: 6'3" SHOOTS: L POSITION: LW

In 2016-17, Malott joined Cornell University (NCAA) and opened up with 9 pts in 30 games. The Canadian forward played 3 more seasons with Cornell, amassing 17 pts in 28 games in his 2nd season, then getting 14 pts in 27 games in the 3rd, before finally netting 13 pts in 29 games in 2019-20.

Last year saw the undrafted Malott sign a contract with the Manitoba Moose and he had a solid first professional season, showing a knack for scoring with 14 goals in 34 games (20 pts).

The big-bodied forward showed of a good shot and the ability to battle in front of the net with Manitoba and was signed by the Winnipeg Jets to a contract for this season.

He was able to make an impression in his first NHL pre-season game and will likely get the chance to play top minutes on the wing of a talented center (Gus or Perfetti). Malott will also be a key trigger man on the PP for the Moose and should continue his development into becoming a strong AHL player.

Michael Eyssimont

CONTRACT: 2 yrs @ $750,000 AGE: 25 SIZE: 6' SHOOTS: L POSITION: C/LW

While the Colorado-born Eyssimont started his career of in his home state, he joined the Fargo Force in 2012-13. He started off with 0 pts in 4 games before breaking into the lineup full time the following season. The speedy center enjoyed some success that year, putting up 30 pts in 58 games.

In 2014-15, Eyssimont split his time between Fargo (36 pts in 46 games) and the Sioux Falls Stampede (13 pts in 14 games). He also chipped in with 16 pts in 12 playoff games for the Stampede.

Eyssimont then moved his talents to St. Cloud State University and stayed there for the following 3 seasons. He debuted in 2015-16 with 33 pts in 40 games, resulting in him being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 5th round (142nd) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

In 2016-17 , Eyssimont amassed 30 pts in 36 games and followed that with 39 pts in 39 games in 2017-18. He also made his professional debut with 3 games (1 pt) with the Ontario Reign (AHL) in 2017-18.

For the past 3 seasons, he had become a regular with Reign, playing in 63 games (20 pts) in 2018-19, 56 games (28 pts) in 2019-20, and 40 games (17 pts) in 2020-21.

Eyssimont signed a 2 year deal with the Winnipeg Jets in the off-season and will look to use his speed and tenacity to find a spot with the Moose this season. He was noticeable in his pre-season action with the Jets, so it will be nice to see his impact in the AHL this year.

Kristian Reichel

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $752,500 AGE: 23 SIZE: 6'2" SHOOTS: R POSITION: C/RW

The son of former NHLer Robert Reichel started his career in home country of the Czech Republic. He played with HC Litvinov in the Czech-18 league, starting in 2013-14 when he put up 15 pts in 15 games. He followed that season with 52 pts in 39 games, before netting 24 pts in 28 games with HC Litvinov in the Czech-20 league in 2015-16.

The following season saw Reichel move up to the Czech Extraliga league with HC Litvinov, where he knotched 8 pts in 41 games. He also saw plenty of games with the Czech national team over the past 3 seasons.

In 2017-18, Reichel joined the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL and he enjoyed a strong season, scoring 34 goals & 57 points in 63 games, adding 5 pts in 5 playoff games.

The undrafted forward signed with the Winnipeg Jets in 2018-19 and has spent the following 3 seasons with the Manitoba Moose (AHL). He started off with 10 pts in 55 games, followed up with 17 pts in 39 games, and ended with 12 pts in 29 games last season.

Reichel got into some pre-season action with the Jets and will probably spend most of the season grinding in the bottom 6 of the Moose. He has shown a scoring touch at times, but hasn't managed to produce consistently at the AHL level to this point. Being a right-handed shot may help him groove out a spot consistently in the lineup.

David Gustafsson

CONTRACT: 1 yr @ $817,500 AGE: 21 SIZE: 6'2" SHOOTS: L POSITION: C

Gustafsson had an interesting pre-draft year, producing well in 18 & under tourneys (WJC - 7 pts in 7 games & Hlinka Gretzky Cup - 4 pts in 5 games). He also played in the SHL with HV71 against men, putting up 12 pts in 45 games. This led to him being drafted in the 2nd round (60th overall) in 2018 by the Winnipeg Jets.

The 2018-19 season saw him stay in Sweden, playing the majority of the time in the SHL with HV71 (12 pts in 36 regular season games, adding 4 pts in 9 playoff games).

Gus made the trip across the pond the next year and made his debuts in both the AHL & NHL, as well as playing in some international competitions with Sweden. He picked up 1 goal in 22 games with the Jets, 7 pts in 13 games with the Manitoba Moose, and 13 pts in 21 international games.

Last season saw Gustafsson start the year in the HockeyAllsvenskan league with Tingsryds AIF (17 pts in 16 games), then he played with the Moose (19 pts in 22 games), and finally ended with the Jets (0 pts in 4 games).

After a solid training camp, it's clear to me that Gustafsson is ready to play at the NHL level. However, with only limited minutes available for a 4th line center in Maurice's system, Gus finds himself back in the AHL with Manitoba. He showed last season that he could be one of the best players for the Moose on a game-in/game-out basis and will look to continue in that stream this year. Already strong defensively and great in the face-off, Gustafsson should get plenty of ice time to strengthen his offensive skills and challenge for the team lead in scoring.

Cole Perfetti

CONTRACT: 3 yrs @ $894,167 AGE: 19 SIZE: 5'10" SHOOTS: L POSITION: C

Cole Perfetti is a very talented center who played his junior hockey with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He debuted in 2018-19, when he put up an impressive 74 pts in 63 games, while adding 14 pts in 16 playoff games.

He returned to Saginaw in 2019-20 and amassed a whopping 111 pts in 61 games, which helped him get selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round (10th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft.

With COVID shutting down the OHL for the 2020-21 season, Perfetti had the opportunity to play with the Manitoba Moose (AHL). He suited up for 32 games and his production (26 pts) was pretty impressive. He started the year playing center in the bottom 6 and getting the majority of his points on the powerplay, but ended up his time with the Moose as the 2nd line center who often chipped in with multi-point games and was routinely having an impact when playing 5-on-5. Cole ended up leaving the Moose early to represent Canada in a couple of tournaments: World Junior Championships - 6 pts in 7 games & World Championships - 2 goals in 10 games.

With an impressive training camp under his belt, Perfetti has so far remained with the Winnipeg Jets this season and appears to be set to play again tonight versus San Jose. However, since this is about the Moose, let's assume that he eventually is sent down to play big minutes in the AHL. If that does occur, Perfetti should get plenty of top 6 minutes and play a significant role on the PP. Has the potential to help Manitoba control the play and could easily produce at a point per game pace. As good as Cole is, there is still room for improvement and another season in the AHL will just help him continue with his development.

Whether it's with the Jets or the Moose, the offensively-gifted Perfetti will be fun to watch this year.

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