Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cormier shifted to make room for MacLean

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BRETT MACLEAN is getting a fresh start with a new organization. And his change of scenery is Patrice Cormier's temporary headache.

The Winnipeg Jets bolstered their forward contingent by claiming MacLean, a 22-year-old left-winger, off waivers from the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. The move means Cormier, who had been impressive in training camp, was assigned to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps and will suit up in their season opener in Providence, not the Jets' triumphant debut Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's just the way it goes. It's numbers. He'll be a great player for us and he'll be back soon enough," said Jets head coach Claude Noel of Cormier after Thursday's practice at the MTS Iceplex. "That's just part of the process. I'm sure he's disappointed and we're disappointed, too, but he'll be back. He hasn't played much and he's a good player."

Cormier battled injury woes last season and appeared in only 32 games -- 21 with the Atlanta Thrashers, 11 with the AHL's Chicago Wolves -- and the Jets want him to get more ice time in St. John's to improve his game.

"One of the things with Patrice is he hasn't played a lot over the last couple of years through injury and circumstances," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. "What we said as an organization is he needs to play to develop. I thought he had a really good training camp and got better as camp went on. But the opportunity to see what MacLean brings to the organization and if he fits just gives us more depth."

The Jets hope MacLean's offensive production as a junior and in the AHL can translate here in Winnipeg. The London, Ont., product was selected by the Coyotes in the second round, 32nd overall, in the 2007 NHL entry draft and has spent most of the last three seasons with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He had 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 51 games with the Rampage last year and has 74 goals in three seasons in the AHL. In his final year of junior with the Oshawa Generals, he led the OHL in goals with 61 and finished second in the league in scoring with 119 points.

The addition of MacLean might also have been prompted by this: of the Jets 13 forwards prior to the waiver-wire pickup, eight were centres or converted centres -- Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele, Alex Burmistrov, Jim Slater, Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov, Tim Stapleton and Cormier.

Meanwhile, the agent for forward Troy Bodie said Thursday he's still searching for a contract for the Portage la Prairie product.

"We've had some conversations with his agent, but there are so many moving parts to an NHL team from the contract side of things it's hard to really lay out everything," Cheveldayoff said. "He had a good camp, it's just that situations are such that right now we had to release him."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 7, 2011 C5

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