Armia stunned by deal that saw Sabres ship him to Winnipeg
Trade to Jets flummoxed Finn
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/07/2015 (2827 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
By his own admission, Joel Armia was in shock after the Buffalo Sabres traded him to the Winnipeg Jets in February.
“Of course it was probably hard for me,” the 22-year-old from Pori, Finland said Saturday at the MTS Iceplex after Day 2 of the Winnipeg Jets development camp. “A little bit harder because it was my first trade and that doesn’t happen in Europe a lot.”
The quiet right-winger then put his finger on exactly how it affected him.
“You have all your teammates in Rochester and then you go to a whole new team, new staff,” he said. “Everything was new. I think that takes a little bit of time.
“But everybody in St. John’s, that was a good group of guys and it made things easy to come there.”
He hesitated slightly — maybe unsure of the precise words for his feelings — and then ventured the trade may well wind up being a good thing for him.
“Not much else to say there,” he added.
“You have all your teammates and you’ve been traded after being many years in their camps. It was two years. You have friends there. That was maybe the hardest part. The teammates, we had a great group there. Leaving those teammates was maybe the hardest part.”
Armia went to a place he’d never been, where he didn’t know a soul. He said he was grateful to fellow Finn, goalie Jussi Olkinuora, who helped with the transition and literally guided him around town.
At the time of the trade, Armia was in his second season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, doing markedly better than when he was a rookie.
He had improved to 10 goals and 25 points in 33 games, but when he went over the IceCaps for the final 21 games of their season, there were just two goals and eight points.
“When I look at Joel, you have to remember he’s still a really young player,” IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said.
“He came into us in St. John’s and I believe the trade affected him in the way you’d expect for a young man.
“It took him a real period of time to feel comfortable and fit in with the rest of the players on the team.”
It’s inescapable, and also good to remember that whenever you’re talking about Armia, it’s about one of the elements of the trade that sent Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to Buffalo for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, prospect Brendan Lemieux, the draft pick that just turned into Jack Roslovic and him.
And the fact Armia was the 16th player taken in the draft in which the Jets selected Mark Scheifele at No. 7.
McCambridge isn’t much into tags like that. He’s more interested in abilities and habits.
“When I watched (Armia) for the time period we had him, he had very good vision and the skill set he has with regards to making plays and in those tight areas was something that jumped off the page,” McCambridge said. “An area he has to work on is having that high level of compete all the time.
“He’s a player that has to have the puck. He can make plays with it. He has to make sure he’s working to get it back. But big upside to him. He’s still learning, still developing but definitely liked what I saw.”
The messages from his new organization have been few, Armia said.
“Just play with your own game, and hard work, that will be the most important,” he said.
He claimed Saturday he’s not interested in the hype that projects the Jets may have some openings among their forward group this fall.
“Usually I don’t watch whether there are any spots open,” Armia said.
“I just do what I can do. It’s only your work that matters, your hard work and how well you play that should give you a spot.
“My only goal is to play in the NHL this year. I’ve been working hard for that. I hope I’m ready at the training camp.”