Jets’ Eyssimont Isn’t Going Back to the AHL Any Time Soon

Mikey Eyssimont is not going back to the AHL any time soon. He’s quickly established himself as a valuable member of the Winnipeg Jets.

Eyssimont Excelling As Jets’ Spark Plug

He may not be the biggest, strongest, or most purely skilled, but Eyssimont may be the most compelling new player on a team that’s turned around completely under new head coach Rick Bowness.

The 26-year-old can be accurately described as a menace on the ice; a player who goes full-bore at every opportunity and does not seem to have an off switch. His play is reminiscent of Brandon Tanev, who now plays for the Seattle Kraken but was a fan favourite during his time in Winnipeg for his his fearlessness and willingness to lay it all on the line every shift.

Mikey Eyssimont Manitoba Moose
Mikey Eyssimont, seen here last season with the Manitoba Moose. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Like Tanev, Eyssimont plays a fiery brand of hockey and isn’t afraid to battle or create havoc. He also has good offensive awareness and a nose for the net, and last season led a resilient Manitoba Moose squad in scoring with 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists.)

In 13 games with the Jets this season, he has one goal and three assists — with his goal the exact type of lunch-bucket effort you’d expect from him — and sports a plus-seven rating.

Eyssimont Has Leapt Up the Depth Chart

Eyssimont, who made his NHL debut with the Jets last April, had a strong 2022-23 training camp but was reassigned to the Moose as a number of forwards were ahead of him on the depth chart. He had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in nine games with the farm club before the organization couldn’t ignore him and his potential impact any longer.

Since making his season debut on Nov. 13, his stock has risen meteorically. He’s never been scratched while Jansen Harkins, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Dominic Toninato, and even Sam Gagner — a veteran of nearly 1,000 NHL games — have all been sat at some point.

Eyssimont began on the bottom six but after a memorable first three weeks — which included his first NHL goal, assist, and fight — has been elevated to the top six. He’s now playing second-line right wing with Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois, and was first put there mid-game against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 4 after the team started sluggishly for a second-straight contest.

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His play gets “full marks” from Bowness, who hasn’t been afraid to put young guys in big roles.

“Listen, you love what he brings. I just talked about emotion and talked about passion and he brings it every shift. We needed it (against the Ducks),” Bowness said recently.

“You give him full marks. For a guy I knew nothing about going into training camp, he had a good training camp. He impressed us there. He played with the Moose for a while and we brought him up and man, he’s given us that energy that we need. You’ve got to love what he brings,” Bowness continued. “I love what Mikey brings to the table every shift, every game. He’s ready to go. I said to him on the bench at the end of the game, ‘Mike, I can trust you, right?’ ‘Yeah coach, you can.’ I love that.”

(From ‘Mikey Eyssimont: Man or Myth?’ Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 5, 2022.)

Eyssimont Has Taken the Long Way to NHL Regular

At 26, Eyssimont is not a typical rookie and has paid his dues.

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The Colorado product played four seasons in the USHL for the Fargo Force and Sioux Falls Stampede before being drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings.

After being drafted, he spent three seasons playing for the St. Cloud State Huskies, recording 30-plus points each campaign. He then played 164 games over four seasons with the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate.

The Jets signed him to a two-year, two-way deal in July, 2021, and he had to wait nearly another entire year to get his first taste of NHL action. It’s no wonder he’s battling so hard to keep his spot.

“It’s a good feeling. Just have to keep paying my dues and do the right things every day, every game to get rewarded a little bit,” he said recently.

Eyssimont Provides Jets With Good Conundrum When Ehlers, Appleton Return

Having too many good players there aren’t enough slots to put them in is a good problem to have, and Rick Bowness is going to have that problem in a couple of months.

Nikolaj Ehlers, the dynamic Dane and usual first-or-second-line right winger, had surgery to correct a sports hernia and is out, most likely, until February. Mason Appleton, who was playing on the second line when he sustained a wrist injury that required surgery, is out until at least mid-January.

Nikolaj Ehlers Winnipeg Jets
Nikolaj Ehlers’ injury, among other factors, opened Eyssimont’s opportunity. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff did not swing a trade to bolster the rapidly-depleting contingent of forwards — even when Morgan Barron was also out after a surgery of his own — and it’s a good thing for him that players like Eyssimont have not only helped the Jets stay aloft, but soar to the top of the Central Division.

Bowness will have some tough decisions to make down the line, but for now, Eyssimont won’t be going anywhere but to the thick of the action in the big league.