April 8, 2007
Jaffray deserves a two-way deal
By KEN WIEBE
PEORIA, Ill. -- Slowly but surely, people are taking notice of the type of season Jason Jaffray is having.
The latest example came earlier this week when Jaffray, who is into his third season with the Manitoba Moose, was named to the American Hockey League's second all-star team.
To put it frankly, Jaffray's year has been awesome.
With 35 goals and 81 points heading into last night's game with the Peoria Rivermen, the Olds, Alta. product leads the Moose in scoring and is among the top-10 scorers in the AHL.
But to put the latest achievement in context, you must consider that players, coaches and media who put in the votes are not allowed to cast ballots in favour of guys on their own team -- or in the case of the media, the team they cover.
That means Jaffray turned enough heads during the course of the campaign to be considered among the best six forwards in the AHL, which is touted by many as the next-best hockey league to the NHL.
So why hasn't Jaffray done enough to earn a two-way contract with an NHL team?
It's a curious question that we can't answer right now, but you can bet he'll have one before NHL training camps open in September.
Signing a two-way deal with the parent Vancouver Canucks makes the most sense and we can tell you that serious discussions have taken place between the Canucks and Jaffray's camp.
The hold up? We're not exactly sure, but one would guess it has something to do with money -- and more specifically, minor-league money.
A similar hang-up occurred last summer when Jason King balked at the minor-league salary the Canucks were offering and took his goal-scoring touch to Sweden.
We can understand that all teams operate under a budget and the argument that if the players ultimate goal is to play in the NHL, why worry about the dollars paid in the minors has some merit.
But to draw a hard line in the sand and risk losing Jaffray, who has an option on his AHL contract for next season but is free to sign with any NHL club, to a more lucrative deal in Europe would be fool-hardy.
All Jaffray has done since joining the Moose late in the 2004-05 season is go from being a spare part to anchoring the top line.
It's true that Jaffray would help his chances of advancing to the next level by improving his skating a touch and continuing to work on his shot.
But Jaffray has a knack around the net and is versatile enough to be used in all situations.
Perhaps all the Canucks are waiting for is for Jaffray to cap his campaign off with a strong post-season.
Here's an unsolicited suggestion though, don't wait too long because there are 29 other organizations who could use a character-filled guy who can put the puck on the net.