By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
The Winnipeg Jets will hand goaltender Michael Hutchinson his first career National Hockey League start but will be without the services of one of their best forwards as Dustin Byfuglien has been shut down for the remainder of the season.
Hutchinson, 24, will make his NHL debut on Monday night against the Minnesota Wild at the MTS Centre. After tonight, the product Barrie. Ont., will have seen action in three separate leagues this season, having played 28 games with the East Coast Hockey League’s Ontario Reign and 22 games with the St. John’s IceCaps, the Jets American Hockey League affiliate. Hutchinson’s numbers in both the ECHL and the AHL were remarkable. He put up and impressive 22-4-2 record with the Reign, with a rock solid 2.08 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. His numbers in the AHL were equally outstanding with a 15-5-1 record and a 2.33 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He helped the IceCaps win nine-straight contests, starting and winning eight of them.
Byfuglien, who left Saturday night’s game and didn’t return, will sit the final three games of the year for the Jets with a torn muscle in his upper body. The defenceman-turn-forward has been one of the top producers for the Jets with 20 goals and 56 points in 78 games played. He is currently tied for the team league in power play goals with eight.
Andrew Ladd is doubtful to see action tonight after picking up a knock in Toronto as well. Maurice listen him as day-to-day.
As a result, Carl Klingberg has been recalled from the St. John’s IceCaps. Klingberg has 20 goals and 18 assists this season for the Jets AHL affiliate.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding Evander Kane and his healthy scratch distinction on Saturday is still murky at best. Kane met with the media following the Jets pre-game skate and did little to address the situation.
“I was obviously disappointed but that was his (Maurice’s) decision and that was it,” said Kane, who also said “no” when asked if there was anything specific he took from the being sat.
Paul Maurice told the media that the issue’s like the one with Kane have been addressed before by himself.
“It is what it is, the rules are the rules,” said the Jets head coach. “I am done with it, I’ve dealt with it. I have given it enough emotion and attention. It has been handled well and we move on.”