Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp are in need of a new linemate, and potentially a new nickname, now that Brandon Tanev has signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Winnipeg Jets’ TLC line was a favourite among fans, as the hard-working trio of Tanev, Lowry and Copp did all the little things that don’t always show up in the stat sheet.
But with Tanev getting a big payday from Pittsburgh in the off-season — a six-year deal with an average annual value of US$3.5 million — the makeup of the Jets’ third line will look different this season. And with forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor still unsigned, Lowry and Copp might not find themselves in the bottom six for much longer.
The duo sat out the team’s first pre-season game, but they played Wednesday night at Bell MTS Place on a line with Blake Wheeler in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
In Friday night’s tilt with the visiting St. Louis Blues, Lowry and Copp were paired with Jack Roslovic, a playmaker who’s hungry for a bigger role this year.
Lowry had a goal, Copp had an assist and Roslovic was held pointless against St. Louis.
"We want Adam to have some experience with some different styles of player(s)," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said after the team’s morning skate on Friday.
"With Brandon leaving, there’s a place there. Both Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry’s game over the last few years has developed that we can now start to think of a different style of player there."
Maurice said Copp and Lowry create time in the offensive zone, so a player with an offensive skill set could capitalize while still being responsible defensively.
"We’re also exposing Jack Roslovic to a different intensity level. So there’s some growth to Jack, too. Play as hard as those two guys, bring your hands to the game and let’s see what we can do."
Maurice later said he wasn’t ready to confirm whether Lowry and Copp will be staying together once the regular season begins.
"Not yet. It’s a known for us, right?" Maurice said of the familiarity of Lowry and Copp together. "Sometimes in these exhibition games, I’ve tried different combinations to the start to get new exposure and then you want to get to the point where you start to see some chemistry."
How the lines are going to shake out this season has fallen on the back burner. The focus has been on Laine and Connor waiting for new contracts, and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien asking for some time away from the team with no set timetable for his return, if there is one.
Lowry, who’s entering his sixth year with the team, was asked if this year’s training camp has felt bizarre with everything surrounding the team.
"No, you know, I think we’ve had (players missing) every year. There’s been different guys," Lowry said. "A couple years ago (Jacob Trouba) wasn’t here. Last year (Josh Morrissey) was out for a couple days. So, obviously you’d like to have the whole complements of your roster here, but those things will work themselves out when they do."
The Jets could use a bump in offensive production from Lowry. In the 2016-17 campaign, he was on pace to have his best scoring season as he had eight goals and 13 assists in 45 games, but he missed nearly half the season due to injury. Despite playing 78 games last season, Lowry had similar numbers, finishing with 12 goals and 11 assists.
Better known for getting the job done in the faceoff circle and making life difficult for the top-scoring threats on the opposition, Lowry said he’s not coming into this year with a focus on putting up bigger numbers.
"I don’t really look at my role as offence or defence. I think I look at my role as going out there and trying to match up against another team’s top line and trying to win that battle, whether that’s keeping them off the score sheet, or that’s outscoring them," Lowry said.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.