October 19, 2020

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For Maurice, it's about how a player fits, not price tag

Kevin Hayes (right) and the New York Rangers are in town tonight. Hayes is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, and Winnipeg has been floated as a possible destination for the centreman. (Mary Altaffer / The Associated Press files)</p>

Kevin Hayes (right) and the New York Rangers are in town tonight. Hayes is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, and Winnipeg has been floated as a possible destination for the centreman. (Mary Altaffer / The Associated Press files)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/2/2019 (614 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The final two weeks before the NHL's Feb. 25 trade deadline are stressful times for the league's general managers and their respective scouting staffs.

Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice also has a keen but slightly detached interest.

He explained his role in the process as the Jets prepped for Tuesday's game with the New York Rangers (7 p.m. TSN3), who are expected to be sellers at the deadline with Winnipeg mentioned as a possible destination for veteran Blueshirts centre Kevin Hayes.

"There's more names that slowly kinda percolate that might become available," said Maurice following Tuesday's morning skate. "If it's a name that we know, we give an opinion. If it's a name we don't know, we'll pull some video and get a better handle on the player. For me, I'm not involved in the pricing portion of this but I am in the fit. How do I think, if that player was available, how would that fit? That's kinda where my input goes."

Hayes, whose is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, had 13 goals and 38 points in 46 games prior to Tuesday's game.

The continuing maturation of forwards such as Jack Roslovic, Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine, Brendan Lemieux, Mason Appleton and Kyle Connor — all 23 or younger — also has an impact on who the Jets might pursue on the rental market.

"We've got six still quite young wingers here," said Maurice. "We're a little more experienced now in the middle of the ice and you have to say, that line that makes up our fourth line (currently Lemieux, Appleton and Andrew Copp) has been pretty darn dynamic. They've scored goals (and have been) double-digit-plus players so they've made a case for themselves to continue to play in the National Hockey League."

Maurice was asked to describe the adversity his team has experienced in recent weeks, including losses in three of their last four games.

"An ebb, a hard ebb," said Maurice. "And really good for our team... The adversity isn't something we're going to panic about getting out of our room, we try to deal with it. Really embrace it isn't the right word, but live it... I thought we worked our way through it in Buffalo (Sunday's 3-1 win over the Sabres)."

Standing pat: The Jets were planning no lineup changes in advance of Tuesday's game against the visiting Rangers.

Veteran defenceman Dmitry Kulikov, who was wearing a regular practice jersey for Tuesday's morning skate after missing two games with an upper-body injury, was scheduled to take another game off while Joe Morrow held his spot in a pairing with Tyler Myers.

"We're healthy, so we're going to use that right now, the same as we did with Dustin (Byfuglien) and what we're doing with (Ehlers), too: we're going to stretch this out for as long as we can before he does something illegal to my car," said Maurice with a smile.

Meanwhile, defenceman Sami Niku was reassigned to the Moose.

There's a slim chance Nikolaj Ehlers could return to the lineup this weekend, but don't count on it. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

CP

There's a slim chance Nikolaj Ehlers could return to the lineup this weekend, but don't count on it. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Status report: Ehlers has been sidelined for the last 15 games since suffering an upper-body injury after absorbing a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby on Jan. 4 and hasn't practised with his teammates since.

A return could be reasonably close for the Danish winger, who had a strong first half with 15 goals and 27 points in 40 games.

"He's coming to that window where we're hoping to get him back on the ice and full practice," said Maurice. "There's a chance he plays in Game 3 of this homestand (against Ottawa) but I'm not working under the impression that we push for that."

Goalie rotation: No. 2 goaltender Laurent Brossoit will probably start one of the Jets' two remaining games during the homestand — Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche or Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

Brossoit, a free-agent pickup who signed a one-year deal worth US$650,000 in the off-season, is having a sensational bounce-back year with a 10-3-1 record, .934 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 3:55 PM CST: fixes typo

4:42 PM: fixes typo

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