Pre-season hockey is upon us

- September 5th, 2013

Greetings and salutations. Hope you enjoyed your summer.

Hockey is back, finally.

Spent a good chunk of the morning at MTS Iceplex on Thursday for the lone availability with the 24 Winnipeg Jets prospects that were put through the paces before departing for the 2013 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C.

I won’t be reporting live from the event (I have two weddings to attend this weekend), but wanted to share a few thoughts before the Jets hit the ice against the San Jose Sharks on Friday night (apparently all games will be available to watch via webcast through the Jets’ official website).

One of the main takeaways from watching today was seeing how much bigger this roster was compared to the one that hit the ice in Penticton back in 2011 for the Jets first appearance in the prospects’ tourney (remember, last year’s was canceled because of the pending lockout).

The Jets have three players that are 6-foot-5 or taller on the roster (free agent LW Axel Blomqvist is nearly 6-foot-7, D Cody Sol is 6-6 and F Adam Lowry is 6-foot-5) while Nic Petan, the 5-foot-9 centre is the only player listed under 6-feet that will be suiting up in the three-game event.

“We have a few big boys,” said Jets centre Mark Scheifele. “It’s a little bit of protection too.”

Scheifele, the seventh overall pick in 2011, spent the summer training with Gary Roberts and said he was up to nearly 200 pounds. While he’s added muscle, it hasn’t taken away from his agility.

“Gary wants you to get stronger, wants you to get bigger but he doesn’t want to take away from your speed,” said Scheifele. “He does a good job at that and I feel good.”

Scheifele, 20, is expected to lead the way, along with D-man Jacob Trouba, who recently attended the Team USA Olympic Orientation camp and also suited up for the U.S. at the world championship, adding a bronze medal to the gold he captured at the world junior championship in Ufa, Russia.

“I was very fortunate to be able to do that,” said Trouba, when asked about his world championship experience. “Playing at that level before I actually got here is definitely going to help me. Just being able to meet those guys, see how they carry themselves and how they act, how they prepare is important.”

Trouba, chosen ninth overall in 2012, worked out with Roberts this summer as well, adding about four or five pounds of muscle. He can’t wait to throw a couple big checks.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s been a while without contact,” said Trouba. “It should be fun.”

Since he has his sights set on making the NHL roster this fall, does Trouba feel like he needed to dominate this level of competition.

“Every time I step on the ice, that’s what I try to do — try and make my presence felt,” said Trouba. “This shouldn’t be any different.”

There are plenty of intriguing players to watch during the next five days, including 2013 first rounder Josh Morrissey, the smooth-skating D-man.

The Jets have a much deeper prospect pool than they did in 2011 and several of those 2011 picks, including Lowry and RW Austen Brassard are ready for a full season in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps.

Lowry, who made the transition to centre last season with the Swift Current Broncos when he was named Western Hockey League player of the year, will start the season down the middle — which is just fine with him.

Perhaps the most intriguing player to watch will be LW Ivan Telegin, who hasn’t played a game since Jan. 13 when he suffered a concussion against the Toronto Marlies and had his season come to a premature end.

Telegin spent much of the summer rehabbing in Winnipeg and recently received full medical clearance.

He looks determined to have a big season — he’s an outstanding skater with a big-league shot — but Telegin admitted that he’ll be feeling some nerves and is looking forward to feeling normal in a game situation and getting back to a place where things simply come naturally for him on the ice.

Telegin and Scheifele played junior together with the Barrie Colts two years ago, so don’t be surprised to see the duo reunited at some point in the coming days.

Speaking of injuries, forward Jimmy Lodge, who suffered an injury at the Team USA world junior summer camp, was wearing a non-contact red jersey, so we’ll see how much game action (if any) that he sees.

It will also be interesting to see how the Jets’ goalies fare, since free-agent signing Jussi Olkinuora and 2013 second rounder Eric Comrie (who recently attended Team Canada’s summer evaluation camp for the world junior team) fare against their peers.

I’ll check back on Tuesday with some thoughts on the Young Stars Classic and try to set the stage for main camp, which opens Wednesday with medicals.

Speaking of training camp, I asked Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff about the prospect of bringing in any players on pro tryout offers?

“No one right now,” said Cheveldayoff. “We have had some conversations with some different players about maybe an opportunity to come to training camp, but nothing that’s imminent. But there could be some people who do come in.”

Enjoy your weekend.

Finally, here’s a look at the roster for the Young Stars Classic:

Goalies (2): Jussi Olkinuora, Eric Comrie

Defence: (7): Zach Bell, Brenden Kichton, Jan Kostalek, Josh Morrissey, Cody Sol, Ty Stanton, Jacob Trouba.

Forwards: (15): Austen Brassard, Axel Blomqvist, Yasin Cisse, Jean Dupuy, Scott Kosmachuk, JC Lipon, Jimmy Lodge, Adam Lowry, Ryan Olsen, Nic Petan, Mark Scheifele, Lukas Sutter, Ivan Telegin, Mitchell Theoret, Jerome Verrier.

Categories: Hockey

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1 comment

  1. Thesawch says:

    Thanks

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