Most of the players have been in Winnipeg skating together for the past few weeks now but on Friday the Winnipeg Jets will kick off training camp.
Jets’ players are all set to hit the ice for the first time in an official capacity with fitness testing scheduled for the first day of camp before the the real practices get going on Saturday.
There have been a handful of changes since their run to the Western Conference Final last spring with the departures of Paul Stastny, Joel Armia, Shawn Matthias and Matt Hendricks on forward.
Jack Roslovic will almost certainly move into a bigger role up front this season to swallow up some of those extra minutes. Roslovic scored five goals with nine assists in 31 games down the stretch after his mid-season call up from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
Realistically there’s probably only one lineup spot available on forward and much will depend on the development of last year’s first round draft pick Kristian Vesalainen. The 19-year-old had 22 goals and 21 assists in 49 regular season games in the Finnish Elite League as he now looks to make the jump to North America.
Nic Petan, Marko Dano, Brendan Lemieux and Mason Appleton are also in the picture as they all vie for the 12th and final forward spot.
WATCH: Connor Hellebuyck gets high-praise from former Jets goalie Joe Daley
After year’s of question marks between the pipes, Connor Hellebuyck enters his first training camp as the undisputed number one man.
After fending off a challenge from Steve Mason last fall, Hellebuyck is now their clear cut starter in goal with newcomer Laurent Brossoit pegged to be his backup. The 25-year-old Hellebuyck will look to improve on his spectacular 44 win season.
“I had so much fun last year and I’m almost missing the hockey right now. I want to get back into games.” Hellebuyck said.
“I’m just glad I’m here, and I get to start building the way I want to build. And I get another chance to prove myself every single day.”
On the blueline, after spending his entire NHL career in the organization Toby Enstrom has gone back to Sweden. A now healthy Dmitry Kulikov will look to put an injury riddled season behind him and will likely join Tyler Myers on the Jets’ third pairing. Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba should make up their shutdown pair again, once Morrissey gets a new contract. Dustin Byfuglien has played with Ben Chiarot in seasons past but Joe Morrow, Tucker Poolman and Sami Niku are also all hoping to crack the Jets’ top six on defence.
The first group hits the ice for testing at 10:00 am on Friday at the Bell MTS Iceplex.
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