Archive for February 14th, 2013

Jets get back to work after two trades

- February 14th, 2013

For the second consecutive Wednesday, the Winnipeg Jets made sure there was plenty to write and talk about — even on a scheduled day off for the team.

One week after sending Mark Scheifele back to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pulled the trigger on a couple of deals.

The first saw the Jets pick up young LW Eric Tangradi from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7th round draft pick in 2013.

The second saw the Jets ship LW Alexei Ponikarovsky back to the New Jersey Devils for a 7th round pick in 2013 and a 4th rounder in 2014.

Ponikarovsky, who was signed to a one-year deal by the Jets as a UFA last summer (after pursuing him in 2011 as well), seemed to have trouble finding his legs, producing just two goals in 12 games.

By all accounts he was a good teammate and did some little things well, but took a couple of costly penalties in recent losses to the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs. In short, he didn’t have the impact that was expected of him. It was early to pull the pin on the experiment, but Cheveldayoff got some value back and is giving Tangradi a chance to see if he can be a full-time NHLer.

Tangradi, a second round choice (42nd overall) of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, has no points in 5 games this season and one goal and five points in 45 NHL games with the Penguins in his career.

Once pegged as a potential power forward to play alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, Tangradi showed benefit from the change of scenery.

Tangradi, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, didn’t arrive in time for Wednesday’s workout but Jets head coach Claude Noel said he would be inserted against his former team on Friday when the Penguins make their second and final visit to MTS Centre.

Noel said he had a few ideas where he planned to play Tangradi but wasn’t in the mood to share with the media. We’ll see at the morning skate, but my belief is that he’ll start with Alex Burmistrov and Kyle Wellwood.

Speaking of changes to the lineup, it looks like D Zach Bogosian will make his season debut on Friday.

Bogosian said he felt ready and while Noel said he was a game-time decision, he sounded fairly confident the Jets would be dressing their Top-6 blue-liners for the first time this season — which was music to the ears of the Jets.

“It’s good to be healthy, that’s a good problem to have a healthy group of defencemen. Especially guys of their calibre. The guys who have come in have done a heck of a job for us. That’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes, you get some playing time and guys get healthy and for whatever reason, you might be out of the lineup. It’s a good problem to have as an organization. We’re happy to have Zach back obviously,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler.

Bogosian said he actually invited some additional contact from teammates during Thursday’s session.

“It felt nice actually, to get bumped in the corner. I told some of the guys to run me. Just one time and then I’ll run them back,” said Bogosian, who has healed after off-season wrist surgery.

Noel said Bogosian would be like a thoroughbred horse as he finally gets back into game action, but that it was important for him to play under control and try not to do too much.

“If he plays, I would just like him to be a good player for us. Don’t try to do everything. Just be a good player and play the right way. Don’t try to overdo things,” said Noel.

Pairings in practice were: Dustin Byfuglien with Toby Enstrom, Bogosian with Ron Hainsey, Zach Redmond with Mark Stuart and Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome. This is always subject to change, but it looks like Postma and Clitsome might be the healthy scratches.

Jets winger Evander Kane attracted a larger-than-usual crowd a day after comments in a yet-to-be-released story in The Hockey News was leaked on Wednesday and had a quote about racism in it.

Kane didn’t shy away from the comments, provided some context and generally handled the media scrutiny quite well.

Many folks have been calling for Kane to show more security and in dealing with him this season, he’s been more engaging and is making an effort to be more accountable.

Columnist Paul Friesen handled the Kane story and also spoke with Don Cherry to get a few comments as well.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive package in the Winnipeg Sun and at www.winnipegsun.com.

Back to injuries for a second, Noel said G Al Montoya was week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

The injury was a result of a couple things, a sprawling save he made late in the second period that saw Philadelphia Flyers C Claude Giroux take a direct shot off a faceoff and a rebound chance for Matt Read. A couple collisions with Flyers Fs Daniel Briere and Jakub Voracek may have been a factor as well.

Eddie Pasquale was up from the St. John’s IceCaps and shared his enthusiasm of his first NHL call-up when meeting with the media.

Pasquale’s record isn’t quite as good this season, but that’s a result of the low-scoring team the IceCaps have been this season. He’s making solid progress in his development and has done a nice job hanging onto the No. 1 job, fending off the more experienced Mark Dekanich, who was brought in as a free agent to push Pasquale.

Like the fact Pasquale was confident when asked if he was ready, citing the recent performance from guys of his age that he’s played against either in junior or in the AHL, a list that includes Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, Matt Hackett of the Minnesota Wild and Robin Lehner of the Ottawa Senators.

With nine of the next 11 games on the road, you can be sure the Jets will ride Ondrej Pavelec as much as possible, but Noel gave a vote of confidence to the 22-year-old, saying he wouldn’t be afraid to use him and that Pasquale has earned his opportunity.

Should be another fun one on Friday, remember it’s a 6 p.m. scheduled start at MTS Centre as Sidney Crosby and company provide the opposition for the Jets.

On Jan. 25, Crosby scored twice but the Jets came roaring back to win 4-2.

Since that time, the Penguins got rolling (9-5, 6-2 overall on road), while the Jets have been up-and-down.

We’ll take a closer look at the match-up after the morning skate on Friday.