The battles begin, in earnest, Thursday morning. And Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel is as eager as anyone to see how things unfold in the team’s third training camp.
"The focus for me is with some of the additions we’ve made, how are we going to make this team play the way that we want it to play to elevate us to the point where we now become a playoff team?" said Noel during his first media availability of the season on Wednesday.
Noel confirmed the Jets will have 58 players in camp, including 2013 draft pick Jimmy Lodge, who is injured but will skate. The additions of NHL vets Devon Setoguchi, Michael Frolik and Matt Halischuk, among others, have given the Jets more roster options.
"It’s good. The more depth that you have… right now it looks like we’re shaping up to have four pretty solid lines with a solid set of defence," said Noel. "The one thing that is good for us is the motor that drives the team is really the competition that gets created between the players. That’s something that as a coach you have to drive and you have to do that through accountability. When I look down the roster at the potential players that are going to be here and where you slot them we’ve got a lot of good things to look forward to both with the forwards and the defence.
"Setoguchi is an offensive player; Frolik has been an offensive producer and on our team he would probably play a little bit different role than he would in Chicago. Both are very capable players. Where they fit and where they land will be determined by a lot of different factors through training camp."
The Jets also confirmed news from Tuesday that veteran NHL defenceman Ian White has been signed to a professional tryout contract. The 29-year-old Steinbach, Man., product has appeared in 503 NHL games with Toronto, Calgary, Carolina, San Jose and Detroit.
The full training camp roster will be released later on Wednesday with the first on-ice session beginning Thursday morning at MTS Iceplex at 9:15 a.m.