They don’t get a ton of attention playing in the NHL’s smallest market, but that doesn’t change the fact there’s a ton of pressure on the Winnipeg Jets to make the playoffs in 2013-14.
Just ask goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
“It’s the third year in Winnipeg after we moved from Atlanta,” said Pavelec, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “Last year after the lockout we were close, but that wasn’t good enough. This year I think we have the team to make the playoffs. I thought we did last year but we just didn’t make it. This year I think is the time to do it.
“I think it was a great summer for the Jets and [GM Kevin Cheveldayoff] did a great job. [Devon] Setoguchi is going to score some goals and is a very good player. Same thing with [Michael] Frolik. We signed some big guys. Now it’s time to make the playoffs.”
As the paper points out, Jets ownership committed $93 million this summer to re-sign forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler and defenseman Zach Bogosian. Add it up and Winnipeg’s payroll is not far removed from the league’s biggest spenders.
That probably won’t be the case when the salary cap goes up in the coming years, so this post-lockout season — a season when the big spenders have been hamstrung by the lowered cap — may be an opportunity for the Jets.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.