Today the Winnipeg Jets took the first step to rebuilding their depleted group of forwards by re-signing tough guy Anthony Peluso. The deal is for two years and worth an average annual value $675 000. Peluso becomes the eighth Jets forward from last season to be under contract for next year. It is certain the Jets will add some other pieces, but at least for now, Peluso hopes to be competing for an every day job with the Jets.
Couldn't be happier to be with the @NHLJets for another 2 years.
— Anthony Peluso (@AnthonyPeluso23) June 17, 2015
Peluso was acquired during the 2012-2013 season off of waivers from the St. Louis Blues. He had never played an NHL game at that point, spending all of his time in Peoria of the American Hockey League. He arrived in Winnipeg however, and despite not being an everyday player, he has been an NHL player the whole time. He managed two assists in five games that first season while racking up 14 penalty minutes. 2013-2014 saw Peluso get a little more time, playing just over 50 games, scoring twice and adding three assists. He also saw his penalty minutes jump up to 65 during his first full season with Winnipeg. Last season Peluso played a few less games and saw his production diminish slightly. Peluso managed just a single goal and assist in 49 games. He did set a career high with 86 penalty minutes, but Peluso did not see the ice often, including sitting the final 13 games during Winnipeg’s playoff push, and the four Stanley Cup Playoff games the Winnipeg Jets appeared in.
Lets be honest, Peluso has been used solely as a fighter during his career. He gets five minutes on the ice when he is lucky, drops the gloves and does his job, then finds his spot in the middle of the bench. One of the major reasons Peluso ends up in the press box so often is because Winnipeg has another guy who can do the same job. Chris Thorburn has been around this team since before the relocation and has been the other man in the fighter role. Thorburn appeared in 81 games this season and scored seven goals and seven assists. There is no doubting that he has out produced Peluso, but who is the more valuable player to this team?
Thorburn or Peluso?
Though yes, there can be room for both players in the lineup, it is unlikely they can both be everyday players on a day-to-day basis. If Peluso wants to suit up everyday he needs to show that he brings more to the table than Thorburn. The main problem that many see with Thorburn is his contract. Thorburn is currently locked up for 2 years at 1.2 million dollars. It seems like far to much for a guy who does not get a lot of ice time and cannot do much on the offensive side of the ice. Just watching this team played, it appears clear that Peluso has far more offensive upside than Thorburn, although he doesn’t get the same opportunities to show it. Thorburn is a better defender and is known around the organization for being one of the best guys in the room. Peluso has more skill with the puck and has shown himself to be a pretty decent passer. Given the same opportunities as Thorburn, it would be interesting to see how the numbers stack up.
I believe Peluso to be the better offensive player, but he needs to improve other aspects of his game if he hopes to see more ice. His defensive game needs to improve and he definitely needs to be on the ice more than he is in the penalty box, but, if he can do that he has the opportunity to be a bigger part of this team. Peluso absolutely has the skill to be more than just a fighter in this league, but he needs to earn the time to show it. He is already one of the top heavyweights with his gloves off, but if he can show more with them on, he has the ability to be a valuable asset to this team. Winnipeg fans would like some added skill, but as long as he continues to do this, he will remain a fan favorite.
Born and raised Winnipeg sports fan and contributor with The Hockey Writers.