So, what have we learned about the Jets?

For starters, Ehlers and Burmi will play roles

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Mission half-accomplished.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/10/2015 (2613 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mission half-accomplished.

It’s the best possible outcome at the conclusion of Winnipeg Jets training camp, given the starting point. The team opted to go all-in with filling available forward jobs from within the system.

The competition for these four openings was high-level. That’s the half-accomplished part, because there was some risk in not being certain the candidates were up to the assignment.

John Woods / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16), Dustin Byfuglien (33) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's game tying goal against the Ottawa Senators during third period.

With that addressed sufficiently, now we’ll find out if the successful bidders have the right stuff for the real games. And only real NHL games will be able to confirm it.

Here’s the overall assessment of the Jets 2.0 preparations, using the most-pressing issues set out in the Free Press camp preview last month:

 

The size-large shadow

It remains. With the regular season upon us — the team’s opener goes Thursday in Boston against the Bruins — there have been no announcements and even no hints of progress in talks for contract extensions for captain Andrew Ladd and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien.

And, of course, nothing at all in the other cases lurking in the background, that Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry are in the final year of their entry-level deals.

Particularly for Ladd and Byfuglien, each day that goes by with no news increases the drama and distraction of the business side and we don’t see any way that’s a positive.

 

Openings, plural

Simply, camp seems to have confirmed the Jets’ farm system has enough quality to fill the forward needs.

The final roster decisions are not yet announced, but Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp, Nic Petan, JC Lipon, Thomas Raffl and Anthony Peluso have all made strong cases for the four positions available.

Petan’s emergence among the hopefuls was likely the story of camp, playing six exhibition games and displaying a versatile, heady style and clear progress from a year ago.

 

Burmistrov, Parts 1 and 2

We wondered about the 22-year-old’s fit in the dressing room and on the ice.

His comfort level seems real off the ice, and it appears to have been a good beginning at reacquainting himself with his new/former NHL teammates.

On the ice, head coach Paul Maurice’s pre-season games were a combination of experimentation and auditions and things were rarely consistent, so the fit into a line isn’t readily obvious before Game 1 of the regular season.

It stands to reason Burmistrov needs some games and weeks to fully reprogram himself to the NHL game and what Maurice wants, and a big part of that will be embracing a more north-south game.

The only clue from the pre-season is Burmistrov is more likely a winger with the Jets, not a centre.

 

No more Fro

Michael Frolik departed as an unrestricted free agent to the Calgary Flames.

It’s still way to early to tell if Burmistrov and some of the team’s new youngsters can make up for his absence, particularly as a penalty killer.

 

Is dynamic Dane ready?

The answer seems to be yes, with these breakdowns: Speed? Yes. Puck ability? Yes. Plays well with mates? Better. Can Ehlers do the defensive side? Too early to tell, but there’s hope.

 

Defensive depth

The answer here is yes, but the solution for getting from nine to eight NHL defencemen isn’t known yet. The Tuesday demand for the starting, cap-compliant, 23-man roster is now right in front of us.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s options are trade or waivers for one of Jay Harrison, Adam Pardy or Paul Postma, given the team’s established top six looks ready to go.

The Jets got to nine from 11 with the discovery Grant Clitsome’s back will not allow him to play, possibly again, and 20-year-old Josh Morrissey needs some AHL time.

 

A spot for Copp?

Again, a yes. The 21-year-old centre played six of the seven pre-season games and had few missteps. The fourth-line centre’s job is his.

 

The “other” guy

High-skill Joel Armia did not have the immediate raise to his game during training camp. His three pre-season appearances were somewhat bland and he was sent to the AHL’s Moose last week for more seasoning.

 

Not hot topic yet… soon?

It was mere wishful thinking from fanatics — possibly bored with summer’s over-analysis of everything — that the Jets would have a goaltending competition at this training camp.

The team has two excellent prospects in Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie, who will be taking care of the Moose net this season.

But Maurice showed not a hint of inclination to thrust either prospect into the spotlight, designing camp work and games almost exclusively around the needs of No. 1 goalie Ondrej Pavelec and backup Michael Hutchinson.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, October 5, 2015 7:31 AM CDT: Photo changed.

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