WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets are slowly but surely getting down to their numbers.
With the pre-season wrapped up, the Jets will spend the weekend trimming down to either 22 or 23 players (which is the maximum).
“I don’t know what we’re going to start with, we discuss people more than numbers,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel.
A number of factors enter the equation and one of the things holding up the process is that 18-year-old centre Mark Scheifele must sign a entry-level contract before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. CT deadline or he’ll be sent back to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
Although agent Robert Hooper didn’t want to discuss the state of negotiations, he did offer this when reached by the Sun on Saturday.
“We’re very hopeful that we can get a deal done,” said Hooper. “The bottom line is that Mark would love to be a Winnipeg Jet and demonstrated in the first nine games of the season what he might be able to do. Hopefully, we can work something out.”
Among the others waiting out the suspense are Winnipeggers Derek Meech and Jason Gregoire and Troy Bodie of Portage la Prairie.
If the Jets decide to carry 23 players and eight defencemen, Meech is a strong candidate to open the campaign with the big club.
Paul Postma is the other defencemen on the bubble left in camp. He finished with two goals and five points in four games but since he’s in the final year of his entry-level contract he can be sent to the minors without requiring waivers.
As for Bodie and Gregoire, they’re among several forwards vying for one of the remaining one or two spots on the opening-day roster.
Patrice Cormier is another one of the forwards on the bubble and certainly bolstered his case by picking up assists in each of his final three games.
“I think so. In my mind, there’s no doubt I can help this team,” said Cormier, who had three assists in five exhibition tilts. “I obviously want to be here. That’s been my mindset throughout camp and that’s not going to change. Helping out a little bit offensively sure helps the confidence. It’s fun to contribute in every way — hitting, blocking shots, intercepting pucks.
“The main thing is that I didn’t go down, I went up.”
Bodie came to training camp on a tryout offer and would require an NHL deal before he can suit up in a regular season game.
Also left without NHL contracts at this stage are forward Janne Pesonen and goalie David Aebischer.