It looks like more players will be joining the Jets’ so-called ‘taxi squad’ than previously expected.
News came out recently that the 24 NHL teams returning to action on Aug. 1 for summer playoffs in two hub cities will be allowed to carry 30 skaters through Phase 3 — the training camp stage — of the NHL’s Return-to-Play plan.
Last month, we took a look at some Moose players who could crack the expanded roster back when the NHL pegged the number of skaters allowed at 28.
In addition to the players outlined in the above article, here’s three more who could make it.
The first half of his first North American season went well for Joona Luoto, but he had some bad luck in the second half.
The former Tampere left winger began the season with the Moose, but was called up in November and made his NHL debut on Nov. 8 against the Vancouver Canucks. He ultimately suited up for 16 NHL games games but didn’t record any points.
On both sides of his first NHL stint, he played 18 games with the Moose — recording four assists — before having season-ending (at that time) surgery on his elbow in early February.
Nogier, who fell way down the depth chart after he lost his entire sophomore 2017-18 due to a shoulder injury he sustained in his very first preseason shift, had a sturdy fourth campaign for the Moose, playing in 58 games as one of the team’s primary shut-down defensemen.
Selected 101st overall in the 4th round of the 2014 NHL entry draft, Nogier has played 11 games for the Jets and is one of the prime candidates to be the Manitoba Moose’s next captaincy — or at least be a full-time alternate — in the future. An added training camp would help the 24-year-old get even more in tune with the organization.
Another Moose captain candidate is veteran Cameron Schilling. The 31-year-old defenseman has played three seasons for the Moose and is their oldest and most experienced player.
The undrafted American has been a fixture on the Moose blue line since coming over to the Jets’ organization prior to the 2017-18 season. He played four games with the Jets in 2018-19 and has appeared in more than 500 AHL games.
He recorded five goals and 19 assists for 24 points in 54 Moose games this season, good for second among blueliners.
There Isn’t Room for Everyone
With the exception of Bryan Little, whose health is still a question mark ever since he took a wicked Nikolaj Ehlers slap shot to the side of the head and suffered a serious ear and head injury as a result, the Jets are nearly injury-free.
With 25 healthy forwards and d-men — that includes Mark Letestu, who was cleared to return in late February from myocarditis and was set to play an AHL conditioning stint when the sports world ground to a halt in March — there will be just five spots available for seven Moose skaters.
These are uncertain times for everyone, but for these players — David Andrei Chibisov, David Gustafsson, CJ Suess, and Kristian Vesalainen — even more so: they truly have no idea when they might play again.
The AHL cancelled the remainder of its season and the Calder Cup Playoffs. As a gate-driven league, they’re trying to determine, with the help of a return–play-task force, if a 2020-21 season is even feasible.
Thus, you can bet all these players would appreciate the normalcy and chance to dust off the cobwebs training camp offers, even if they’re long shots to appear when the five-game series between the Jets and Calgary Flames (as long as a COVID outbreak doesn’t prevent it) gets underway in Edmonton.