Jets, Moose test drive the rookies

Kichton to the NHL, Lemieux to don antlers


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It’s been a recurring theme to the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose seasons. And it’s going to play out right until the last page of the final chapter.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/04/2016 (2491 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a recurring theme to the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose seasons. And it’s going to play out right until the last page of the final chapter.

The Jets and Moose — both long eliminated from the playoff picture and into evaluating talent for next season — announced a pair of roster moves Monday with the NHL club recalling defenceman Brenden Kichton and its AHL affiliate adding winger Brendan Lemieux after the completion of his junior season with the Windsor Spitfires.

Kichton, 23, was recalled on an emergency basis late last month, but did not see any action. Jets coach Paul Maurice said Monday he has been added for the three-game road trip to California for depth and for logistical reasons — it’s not as easy to get a body on the ground out west as simply walking down the hallway to the Moose dressing room for home games.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Andrew Copp celebrates after undressing Minnesota Wild defenceman Ryan Suter and scoring Sunday against the Wild.

Kichton leads the Moose in scoring with 38 points (10 goals, 28 assists) in 65 games.

Lemieux, who signed an entry-level contract with the Jets last July, split this past season with the Barrie Colts and Spitfires. The 20-year-old had 62 points (32G, 30A) in 45 games this year and had five points in three playoff games before the Spitfires were knocked out of the first round of the OHL playoffs by the Kitchener Rangers.

The Jets were intrigued by Lemieux’s skillset even before he was part of the blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres a year ago, coming to the Jets along with Joel Armia, Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers and a first-round draft pick (Jack Roslovic) for Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane and Jason Kasdorf. Lemieux was drafted by the Sabres in the second round, 31st overall in 2014.

“If you project out where his game goes, there’s always a role for that guy,” said Maurice of Lemieux. “Good hands, on the puck and a gritty player.

“I just want to be careful about handing anybody anything too early. He had a good camp (with the Jets) and we kept him here because of it. (But) he’s going to have to earn that job and we have six or seven rookies in our lineup right now and they’re all going to have a little more experience to be fighting for that job.

“We’ve felt for awhile that we’ve got some good young players coming that will be on our team reasonably soon. When that comes I can’t guarantee, but we’ve got some good players coming.”

NUMBERS GAME: Mark Scheifele has already set a career high in goals this year with 27. With three games left, he’s not going to hide it: 30 would be a heckuva total to hit.

“It would definitely be huge,” said Scheifele. “I’m definitely trying to push for it, but the most-important part is to continue to play the right way and if they go in, they go in. And if not, I want to be happy with the effort I give each and every night and with a full 200-foot game.

“I’m definitely going to be going for it. But I’ve got to play the right way first.”

CELLY NEEDS WORK: Andrew Copp’s goal in Sunday’s 5-1 win over Minnesota was splashed all over the sports networks through to a day later, prompting his cellphone to blow up with text messages

“I got a few texts from family and guys from Michigan that I played with and close friends, just asking what I was thinking out there and if I blacked out on the play,” said Copp with a grin.

While the goal was top notch, the celebration — sort of losing his balance while he went low to do something with his hands — was all over the place.

“The celebration is like, ‘What do I do?’ I had no idea,” Copp said. “It’s something I need to work on.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPEdTait

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