We wrote last week about how the Winnipeg Jets weren’t ready to blow up their roster…yet.
Now one writer is suggesting something entirely different: De-Atlantize it.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press suggested this in today’s column, “Death to the Thrashers and their low standards“. In it, he writes that Winnipeg management and players “have seen enough of the Thrashers’ way of doing things and are now intent on eliminating any remaining DNA.”
This would probably explain Noel’s cryptic comments from last week. “This is not what we’re going to be about,” “It’s not going to get shaped this way,” “This is not what I want” — soundbites that raised plenty of eyebrows across the league. They were the words of a man not just looking to ship out bodies. They were the words of a man that wanted a culture change, and probably wanted it 17 games ago.
To that end, the Jets called up Jason Jaffray from the St. John’s IceCaps on Sunday. A career minor-leaguer that’s logged time in the hockey hotbeds of Roanoke, Norfolk, Wheeling, Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton and Cleveland, Jaffray’s had very few cups of NHL coffee.
The idea behind the move is clear.
“There’s a reason old-timers will tell you every player should spend some time on the farm and it’s because it teaches them to never take their spot in the NHL for granted,” Lawless writes. “Jaffray has had to claw for the 36 games he’s spent in the NHL over a 10-year career that saw him start in the ECHL. Jaffray won’t take a shift, a practice or workout off. He can’t if he wants to stick around and put NHL dollars in the bank.”
The message: “See how hard this guy’s working to be here? That’s how hard you should be working.”
Who it’s directed at? Probably everyone, though some Jets more than others: Dustin Byfuglien (team-worst minus-7), Blake Wheeler (zero goals), Bryan Little (five points in 17 games) and Johnny Oduya (the human turnover machine) are safe guesses.
Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.
The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.
Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.
“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”
Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.
“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”
OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.
The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.
Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.
The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.
Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.