Turbulence Ahead: Free Agent Fits (Winnipeg Jets)

Via NHL.com

The 2022-23 season is about to get under way. Training camps open in short order. Preseason play around the NHL starts September 24th, with the Winnipeg Jets opening their preseason the following night in Edmonton vs. the Oilers on September 25th.

Unhappy, unsettled Winnipeg Jets fans seem to be hoping for more activity leading up to 2022 NHL training camp. Fans should keep these three players in mind to help fill the bottom-6 forward group with more experience and skill.

Sonny Milano – LW/RW

In the 2021-22 campaign, Sonny Milano showed he could be a consistent NHLer playing alongside Anaheim Ducks star, Trevor Zegras. In 66 games he scored 14 goals and added 20 assists.

A bit of a late bloomer, yet still only 26 years old he’s worth the risk on a one year prove it deal.

Evan Rodrigues – C

With injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh last season, Evan Rodrigues proved early in the season to a reliable source of offense when called upon. In 82 games Rodrigues put up 43 points (19 G, 24 A).

Question marks a plenty up the middle of the ice in Winnipeg. Rodrigues would be a perfect fit on a win-now Jets team and provide depth at center.

Brett Connolly – RW

Brett Connolly was bought out by the Chicago Blackhawks on July 11, 2022. A professional tryout contract (PTO) could be a possibility with him. Now Winnipeg head coach Rick Bowness was part of the coaching staff in Tampa Bay when Connolly played for the Lightning.

The sixth overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft played 37 games in the AHL for the Rockford IceHogs producing 35 points. In nine NHL games, he had just one point.

A projected forward lineup would look very strong going into the 2022-23 season if Winnipeg were to sign these three players:

  • Line 1: Connor – Dubois – Perfetti
  • Line 2: Ehlers – Schiefele – Wheeler
  • Line 3: Milano – Lowry – Appleton
  • Line 4: Harkins – Rodrigues – Connolly
  • Extras: Barron, Toninato

With a shallow prospect pool of NHL ready forwards ready to fill out the bottom-6 and $6,279,634 in salary cap room, there is room to add.

The top two lines could be your top line or second line any given night depending on match ups, and if Cole Perfetti shows ready to take the next step.

Milano and Rodrigues would give the forward group some flexibility to move players around if injuries arise or younger players don’t step up early in the season. New head coach Rick Bowness showed in Dallas he isn’t afraid to balance out line combinations.

Connolly could fill a role through training camp and preseason to let Winnipeg evaluate their younger players and determine if they are ready for an 82 game NHL schedule. While also giving himself a chance to show what he has left at the NHL level, if anything.

Something is better than nothing when it comes to roster moves for Winnipeg Jets fans who are starting to become more discouraged with the direction the team is going, especially after a spring of misleading press conference exit interviews and a summer of who wants out and the lack of free agent spending.

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