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Gaudreau joins Eichel as latest additions to USA’s Worlds roster

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Another big score for USA Hockey on Friday.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau — whose season ended earlier Wednesday with a playoff sweep at the hands of Anaheim — told reporters today he’d be joining Team USA for the upcoming World Championships in Germany and France.

Gaudreau’s announcement comes just days after another big name — Buffalo’s Jack Eichelalso agreed to join the squad.

All this makes for a pretty intriguing roster.

USA Hockey has adopted a youth movement, selecting collegiate players like Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen (a Buffalo draftee), Boston University forward Jordan Greenway (a Minnesota draftee), Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork (a Boston draftee) and Daniel Brickley, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State-Mankato.

In addition to those, some quality NHL youngsters are also in the mix: Noah Hanifin, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp and a pair of prized Arizona prospects — Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. Detroit sophomore Dylan Larkin will also suit up for the Americans.

The 2017 Worlds get underway on May 5.

 

 

Jets have had extension talks with Cheveldayoff, none with Maurice

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After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, Winnipeg faces a number of questions this summer.

And many of those questions start at the top.

The future of GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and head coach Paul Maurice are chief among those queries and, during Monday’s end-of-year media availability, both individuals touched on what the future has in store.

Both are heading into the final year of their respective deals. Per the Sun, Cheveldayoff’s had discussions about an extension while Maurice has yet to open similar talks.

Cheveldayoff’s been in charge of the Jets since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Reviews have been mixed. There’s an obvious level of disappointment with just one playoff appearance but, at the same time, the 47-year-old has stockpiled a tremendous amount of young, promising talent, primarily through the draft.

Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey have all come aboard on Cheveldayoff’s watch, and become important pieces. This year also saw the debuts of two highly touted ’15 draftees — Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic — while Eric Comrie, regarded as the team’s potential goalie of the future, also saw his first NHL action.

Other Cheveldayoff picks like Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp and Nic Petan have also graduated to the big club.

As for Maurice, Cheveldayoff said the veteran bench boss has his “full support.”

The 50-year-old has been in charge of the Jets since taking over from Claude Noel in ’13-14 and, like Cheveldayoff, reviews have been mixed. The Jets have been one of the league’s least disciplined teams under Maurice — the Jets took 307 minor penalties this year, fourth-most — and that issue was compounded by an awful penalty kill that finished 26th in the NHL.

But Maurice has also been somewhat undone by lacklustre goaltending, a signature problem of the Cheveldayoff era. Ondrej Pavelec, Al Montoya, Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck were Maurice’s primary options over the last four years, and none really got the job done.

Future’s on display in Winnipeg as Connor, Roslovic recalled

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On Monday, the Jets put the spotlight on their ballyhooed ’15 draft class by bringing up Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic from AHL Manitoba.

Connor, the 17th overall pick, re-joins the club after appearing in 19 games earlier this season. The 20-year-old started out with the Jets after a terrific freshman season at the University of Michigan, but was eventually sent to the Moose for further grooming.

So far, the plan has worked. Connor has 23 goals and 42 point through 49 games.

Roslovic, taken eight spots after Connor, has also played very well in his first professional campaign. After leaving Miami (Ohio) after just one year, he jumped right to the AHL and has 45 points in 61 games.

This marks his first NHL recall.

Should both draw into Tuesday’s game against the Blues, it’ll be a big showcase for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s draft-and-develop model. Connor and Roslovic would join the likes of star rookie Patrik Laine (2nd overall, ’16), Nikolaj Ehlers (ninth overall, ’14), Josh Morrissey (13th overall, ’13), Jacob Trouba (9th overall, ’12) and Mark Scheifele (7th overall, ’11).

Other recent draftees currently making an impact in Winnipeg include Connor Hellebuyck, Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry.

Worth mentioning here that all the guys mentioned are 24 or younger (and that’s without listing two former first-rounders acquired by trade: Marko Dano and Joel Armia). This will end up a disappointing season for the Jets, having failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year, but the future still looks extremely bright.

Jets welcome back Dano, out two months after ugly crash

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Back in late December, Winnipeg forward Marko Dano suffered what appeared to be a serious injury on an ends-boards crash in a loss to Columbus.

“It’s not good,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said at the time, per the Winnipeg Sun.

As such, today’s news is extremely positive — Dano will make his return to the Jets lineup as they host the Blues. It’ll be the first time he’s suited in up 26 games.

“I feel much better now,” Dano said yesterday, per the team website. “I’m almost back to normal.”

Dano went feet-first into the end boards behind the Columbus goal during the second period, and immediately began writhing in pain. He had to be helped off the ice by teammates.

The 22-year-old opened the year with Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, but had been fairly productive since being recalled in early November. Dano had 10 points through 28 games, while averaging 11:28 TOI per night.

Tonight, former first-round pick (27th overall, ’13) will skate on a line with Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn.

Patrick Kane: Others have to ‘step up’ with Toews out of Blackhawks lineup

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This hasn’t been a great weekend for the Chicago Blackhawks.

They lost on Saturday and lost again on Sunday, as the Winnipeg Jets came into Chicago and, thanks to a late goal from Andrew Copp, left with a 2-1 victory. The Blackhawks didn’t have Jonathan Toews in the lineup, as their captain remains out with an injury.

The news wasn’t particularly promising Sunday. Toews, who has four goals and 12 points in 21 games this season, is being kept off the ice for the next few days, because his injury isn’t improving.

“When you’re missing a guy right away for a couple of games, it may not really show up and guys are excited to get that chance. The longer you go, missing a great player, there’s going to be a hole,” Patrick Kane told CSN Chicago.

“Nothing we can control. It’s something guys like myself and other guys have to step up and try to [help], whether it’s taking on more ownership and leadership, playing the right way and do whatever you can to help this team win.”

The Blackhawks have been kept to two or fewer goals in four of their last five games. They haven’t scored a power play goal in the last five games, going 0-for-13 in that stretch.

In addition to missing Toews, the Blackhawks are also without goalie Corey Crawford for two to three weeks.

This is a difficult stretch they’re going through.

“Well, you certainly miss his presence in all aspects of your team game, his leadership as well, as good as anybody that’s played,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. “You use all those important minutes.”