Rick Bowness addressed the media ahead of starting training camp. The veteran coach kept his cards close to his chest, but did shed some light on the upcoming season, and particularly his plans with the newcomers.
Jets forward’s depth chart:
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Gabriel Vilardi
Nino Niederreiter Cole Perfetti Nikolaj Ehjers
Alex Iafallo Adam Lowry Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron Rasmus Kupari Vladislav Namestnikov
The biggest news coming from Jets head coach is detailing the forward lines to start the season. Scheifele and Connor are unsurprisingly sticking on the first line as center and left wing respectively, and they’ll be joined on the right wing by newcomer Gabriel Vilardi. The 24-year-old hasn’t worked off a first line before, and playing with a higher level of talent all around him should lead to better play. Cole Perfetti is also being given a big opportunity, being asked to head to center the second line. Perfetti was in the running for the Calder trophy before taking an injury last February and is being rewarded with a bigger role.
The youth movement doesn’t stop there, as Bowness also mentioned some “bubble guys” still trying to make their way onto the squad. Although not revealing any names, he’s likely referring to other youngsters like Colby Barlow and Chaz Lucius who have a shot to play their way into the squad in training camp and pre-season. An injection of youth could be exactly what a team with aging stars needs, and the Jets are willing to take a swing.
Bowness mentioned one other place the Jets desperately need to improve this season: the power play. The Jets were a bottom 8 team on the PP last year, with a measly 19.3% scoring rate. The personnel seems to again be the proposed solution: Perfetti and Vilardi both as additions to the power play teams and a returning (hopefully fully healthy) Nikolaj Ehlers. If the Jets can become a league-average team with a man advantage, they could become a much more dangerous goal-scoring team.