Jets' Festerling's been around the block

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 AM ET

Brett Festerling likes to say he's taken the "scenic route" to this point in his professional hockey career.

That's one way of putting it, although it's not a journey you'd find in most tourism guides. His voyage has been full of rejections, trades, close calls and plenty of time in the minors.

Now the 25-year-old Prince George, B.C., native trying to grab the last roster spot in the Winnipeg Jets defensive corps. That much he knows. He's realistic about where he fits in, but he feels he belongs.

"I'm never going to be a top two offensive defenceman," Festerling said Saturday after practice at MTS Iceplex. "Everybody knows that. Everybody knows I'm going to be that solid, hopefully fifth or sixth guy, eating ice time and letting (Dustin Byfuglien) and those guys rest."

Festerling won a Memorial Cup with the Vancouver Giants in 2007, but no NHL teams took a chance on him in the draft. Despite that, he played 83 games for Randy Carlyle's Anaheim Ducks between 2008 and last fall.

He was traded twice last season, including to the Atlanta Thrashers at the trade deadline for former Moose goaltender Drew MacIntyre. A restricted free agent, he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Jets in the off-season and now has a chance to grab a starting spot.

"It's been right there for about three years now," Festerling said. "The hard part is always getting established. That's a hard spot to get these days, is that last defensive spot. There's a lot of established guys."

Festerling had 15 minutes of ice time in Winnipeg's 6-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday at MTS Centre, and he expects to get another crack at strutting his stuff on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C., where the Jets will battle the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It's big. This is big for everybody," Festerling said. "Especially with these split squads, it limits the amount of games you can get in. You're not playing six or seven games anymore. You're trying to get in three, maybe four. So they're huge.

"You gotta play well, not just as individuals but as a team. You don't want to be on a losing team. Nobody likes to go out on a losing team to get judged on, that's for sure."


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