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In hindsight, the Winnipeg Jets going out and claiming defenseman Luca Sbisa from the Anaheim Ducks was quite predictable. Both the Jets and AHL Manitoba Moose are dealing with multiple injuries on an already thin defense and with the club heading out on the road for the next four games it’s probably a wise move to bring a long an extra body, even if that extra body is a 29 year old defenseman who only played in just nine NHL games last season.

When he was asked about the acquisition of Sbisa, head coach Paul Maurice was pretty vague and non-committal to anything

Another quote from Maurice in his availability yesterday that I found interesting was when he was asked about practice time for Sbisa with his new club and how much time he would need to get up to speed:

“There’s an interesting case of a guy who spent and entire year kinda in the NHL but not playing a lot of games, there’s a reason for it. He’s a hard working guy in practice and a real positive spirit, so he’s gonna need some practice time with us.”

And then added at the very end, “barring health, if we stay healthy he’ll get a little more practice time.”

My translation of those comments? He’s a warm body that can sit in the press box, will be happy to collect an NHL paycheck while getting in work during morning skates and practices and not gripe about it. If another injury happens while on the road, especially in the back-to-back set against San Jose and then Vegas, the Jets at least have a backup plan. It’s not a great backup plan, but it’s better than going into a game only dressing five defensemen.

Not counting Sbisa, the Jets have seven defensemen on the roster and the lineup going into Saturday’s game in Regina against the Calgary Flames looks a little something like this…

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY
Dmitry Kulikov
DMITRY KULIKOV
Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK
Ville Heinola
VILLE HEINOLA
Carl Dahlstrom
CARL DAHLSTROM
Anthony Bitetto
ANTHONY BITETTO

Tucker Poolman – who sat out Tuesday’s game against the Kings was back on the ice on Wednesday for practice and is said to be healthy and good to go for Saturday which means either Anthony Bitetto or Carl Dahlstrom should be the odd man out.

If the Jets stay healthy on the back end, this should be your defensive lineup next week as well except for one caviat…

The Ville Heinola factor

After Saturday, if Ville Heinola plays against the Flames, the Jets will have a decision to make. Either keep him with the main roster and have the first year of his ELC kick in, or send him to the AHL (or Europe although that seems highly unlikely) for the rest of the season.

It’s not what Jets fans will want to read, but with the team picking up Sbisa, I am not expecting the Jets to keep Heinola on the roster beyond his ninth game. Sending Heinola away would leave the Jets with seven defensemen on the main roster which is a little more in line with what they usually do. Tucker Poolman likely takes his spot in the lineup and Bitetto draws in on that third pairing with Dahlstrom.

And as for Sbisa? Hopefully he enjoys the press box popcorn and the Jets have no need to bring him in to an actual NHL game.

 


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