By Carter Brooks
Photo by James Carey Lauder
The 2018-19 hockey season is just days away. With the final NHL preseason games winding down, teams are finalizing their NHL and affiliate American Hockey League rosters.
In Manitoba, the Jets and Moose are no exception. With Winnipeg set to begin the season on the road in St. Louis on Thursday, the team has until 4:00 P.M. Tuesday to submit its 23 man roster to begin the season. Although Jets' Head Coach Paul Maurice has indicated that his ideal roster would consist of 22 members, he may be forced to keep 23 players to begin the 2018-19 season.
A set of unique circumstances is forcing Maurice's hand as to whether he will truly be able to keep just 22 players on board with the Jets. Nic Petan, who is dealing with the aftermath of a difficult family situation is currently on Winnipeg's roster, but will be placed on the equivalent of the NHL's bereavement leave list. Logan Stanley, who is injured, will be sent down to the Moose when healthy, leaving 24 players left up on the big club.
After making their second round of cuts, the Jets announced Monday that forward Michael Spacek has also been sent to the American Hockey League. Among Winnipeg's cuts were standouts Sami Niku, Mason Appleton, Eric Comrie, Seth Griffith and Nic Kerdiles. Other cuts included Mikhail Berdin, Nelson Nogier, Skyler McKenzie, Jansen Hakins, Kristian Reichel, Cam Schilling, Dennis Everberg and JC Lipon.
With the top three lines and top five defencemen set, the only battles left for the Jets include the number six, seven and potentially eight defensive spot (Chiarot, Morrow, Poolman) and the final spot on the fourth line and extra forward (Vesalainen, Dano, Lemieux).
With the influx of players dropped down to the minor league, the Moose have also made some cuts from their tryout camp, as Winnipegger Colton Veloso, Matt Ustaski, Cody Fowlie, Jack Glover and Justin Woods have been assigned to the East Coast Hockey League's Jacksonville Icemen, while Joey Ratelle has been sent to the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies. Hunter Fejes and Tanner Jaillet have been released from their professional tryouts and will seek work elsewhere.
The Jets begin the season on Thursday in St. Louis as they take on their Central Division rival in a 7:00 P.M. showdown at the recently re-named Enterprise Center (TSN3), before stopping in Dallas for a 6:00 P.M. Saturday showdown against the Stars (Sportsnet). Winnipeg will play Los Angeles in its home opener on Tuesday, October 9th at 7:00 P.M. (TSN). The Moose open up their campaign with Friday and Sunday contests against the Iowa Wild on the road. Manitoba's home opener will go from Bell MTS Place on Friday, October 12th, as the Belleville Senators make their way to Winnipeg for a two game set. Puck drop is set for 7:00 P.M. Friday.