October 19, 2018 5:32 pm
Updated: October 19, 2018 5:38 pm

‘He needs to play’: Winnipeg Jets send first rounder to Manitoba Moose

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The Winnipeg Jets assigned forward Kristian Vesalainen to the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose on Friday.

The Jets first round draft pick has been a healthy scratch the past two games in his first season with the team. The 19-year-old appeared in their first five games of the season where he recorded just one assist. He averaged less than seven minutes of ice time per game and registered just one shot on goal.

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With the Moose playing at home this weekend it will give Vesalainen a chance to immediately get into the lineup and play some major minutes instead of watching from the press box.

“We don’t want, on principle, young players sitting around for long periods of time and not playing,” head coach Paul Maurice told reporters on Friday.

“He’s too early on in his pro career. The advantage of our American League team being at home is that we can do things like that, so we want to take advantage.”

The Moose are playing at home on Friday and Sunday against the San Antonio Rampage. Vesalainen could get pulled back up to the Jets at any time but Maurice wouldn’t commit to a time frame.

“It is a short term idea,” Maurice said. “He needs to play, right.”

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The Jets selected Vesalainen in the first round, 24th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.

The Jets continue their season high six-game homestand on Saturday afternoon against the Arizona Coyotes.

WATCH: Winnipeg Jets first round draft pick Kristian Vesalainen spoke following day one of development camp

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