Noel meets the media as Jets open training camp

- September 11th, 2013

While players went through medicals and physical testing, it was a relatively light day for the members of the media on Wednesday.

None of the players spoke, but head coach Claude Noel did stand at the podium and after a brief introduction, he took questions roughly 18 minutes, discussing a number of interesting topics — including the increased competition for ice time and ultimately jobs.

“Well, I think the battle is pretty much everywhere and it’s going to be determined by their play. Clearly, we’ve got some offensive options here,” said Noel. “ It’s going to depend on some players and how they perform through training camp, in where they slot themselves. The competition is going to be everywhere, whether it’s the top two lines or the bottom two lines. It’s going to be everywhere. Who is going to take up those minutes? I think we have some good options. If things don’t go, you can turn around and add some other players. We’ve got some options with the depth that we have. We have a lot of options. Where it’s all going to play out is dependent on the play, for me.”

The Jets will have 58 players in training camp, though 2013 draft pick Jimmy Lodge will start in a non-contact jersey after suffering an injury at the Team USA world junior summer evaluation camp.

That list of players includes D Ian White, who is in camp on a Pro Tryout Offer and will be interesting to watch and see if he can force his way onto the roster.

Noel wasn’t tipping his hand when asked about where some of his other new players might slot in, but the release of the three groupings the Jets will use at the start of training camp may have a few answers in it.

We won’t know for sure until players step onto the ice Thursday, but it’s not likely a coincidence that Mark Scheifele, Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi are in a group together.

Speaking of Scheifele, Noel stressed that it’s important for the 2011 first rounder to not heap too much pressure on himself and just to focus on playing a responsible, two-way game. He also said that Scheifele is an offensive player and should be put in offensive opportunities, like the power play.

“He has skill and we’re going to see that. I don’t think he needs to do anything outside of what he’s capable of doing. Let’s just take one day at a time and focus on getting better every day. For him, he needs to focus on being a good two-way player and just go from there,” said Noel.

The Jets’ top trio of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little are in a group together as well, so are Olli Jokinen, Michael Frolik and Matt Halischuk.

Again, there’s no guarantee these lines start together or remain together but that’s the way my depth chart looks right now as well.

Jim Slater looks like a lock for the fourth-line centre role, but there’s where things get incredibly interesting.

Right now, there’s a group that includes James Wright, Eric Tangradi, Anthony Peluso, Chris Thorburn and possibly Patrice Cormier (among others) that’s going to be battling for ice time.

Injuries can happen, but it’s also possible the Jets make a trade or two before the season opens on Oct. 1 against the Edmonton Oilers.

The competition story-line is one I look into in my Jets notebook online at www.winnipegsun.com and in Thursday’s paper.

My column is on how 2011 third rounder Adam Lowry is my sleeper player to watch. Lowry has great hockey sense and has worked hard on his skating. His size and skill-set is something that could come in handy, especially as the Jets move to the more physical Western Conference.

Speaking of that switch to the West, colleague Paul Friesen explores the Jets’ need to become a more physical team in his column.

Paul and I will be at Iceplex for Thursday’s three sessions and I’ll check in from there afterward.

Categories: Hockey

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