Offseason Gameplan: Jason Jaffray

Photo courtesy of CBC.

With the inaugural season of the St John’s IceCaps now in the books, it’s getting to be about that time where we look forward to next season and all that it may bring. After such a long and successful season, the excitement and desire for a short summer may be stronger than it has ever been in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Given that the AHL is most frequently used as a prospect feeder system for National Hockey League teams, it is understood that roster turnover in the AHL is usually much greater than you’d expect to see from a typical NHL team. Basically, the team that suits up for the 2012-2013 AHL season may look quite different from the team that was iced this year. There are many questions yet to be answered.

One such unanswered question centres around the future of the current IceCaps captain, Jason Jaffray. Jaffray, who turns 31 next month, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

JJ posted an impressive 17 goals and 38 points in 47 regular season games this past years with the IceCaps, before being sidelined with a season-ending neck injury that kept him out of the Calder Cup playoffs, a factor that must be considered when examining the IceCaps loss to the Norfolk Admirals in the Eastern Conference Finals. He also played 13 games for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, picking up an assist and collecting 7 penalty minutes.

Jaffray underwent neck-fusion surgery in late-April and won’t be able to resume skating until the middle of this summer, which obviously creates a number of problems in terms of the Captain re-signing a new contract. Jaffray would not be able to re-join the team until after the season has started as well.

Health and age concerns aside however, Jaffray was and continues to be an inspiration to his teammates.

As Brendan McCarthy reported for The Telegram on May 5th:

“But there never was a point where I didn’t want to be around the team,” continues Jaffray… “When you have a serious injury like this, that’s what keeps you sane … being around the guys, being in the dressing room, helping out any way I can.

 

“If it means going over power-play video with the guys or just being in the dressing room, supporting them after games just having my face around … it might help a little bit. I’ve played a lot of playoff games, been through a lot of playoff runs over the years and hopefully, my leadership can be used in this run.”

 

Given his contract status and health concerns, where do you think Jaffray will land in 2012-2013? His leadership certainly brings an interesting dynamic to the situation. Should his neck continue to be a concern, would he make a good addition to the IceCaps coaching staff? Will he be back and better than ever? These questions certainly won’t generate any easy answers, but it makes for an interesting summer.

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IceCaps add DeSantis and Marto, King officially inked

From Manitoba’s CJOB68

The Winnipeg Jets, in conjunction with St. John’s IceCaps, are pleased to announce today they have agreed to terms with Jason, King, Jason DeSantis and Jake Marto on new American Hockey League contracts. As per club policy, terms of the agreements are not disclosed.

With DeSantis and Marto, the IceCaps are looking to gather some depth for the blueline. Marto is a 6’0″ defenceman who has played the past four seasons with the University of North Dakota, compiling 62 points in 157 games played. The 25 year old will likely move on from the WCHA to help fill out the IceCaps blueline come October.

DeSantis with the Phantoms

DeSantis, another 25 year old, has recently spent most of his time in the AHL or ECHL since leaving Ohio State University in 2008. The 5’11″ defenceman seems capable of adding 20-30 points from the blueline, his best pro outing being in 2008-09 when he nabbed 17 points in only 56 games for the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms.

This is obviously a huge opportunity for both players, especially given their age. A good performance with the IceCaps this upcoming season could make or break both of these guys becoming mainstays in the professional hockey scene. Both will look to find some stability in their game - let’s hope they can find it here in St. John’s.

The Jason King signing that was reported a couple days back has since become official.

 King told CBC News:

“I’m excited to get my game back to where I know it can be and it should be, and wherever that leads, I’m excited to see”

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow on twitter @SJ_IceCaps

Jason King returning to “The Rock”

The Winnipeg Sun is reporting that the Jets organization is on the verge of signing free agent and Newfoundland native Jason King. The deal is obviously a two-way, as it’s likely that King will spend the majority of his time with the IceCaps in St. John’s.

This is a smart signing, bringing in a hometown (or at least home-province) player to give the fans a little extra to cheer for.

King, 29, has experienced a rocky road in his hockey career thus far, so the return to Newfoundland should be a great fit and fresh start for the Corner Brook native. Local fans will remember his time playing with the Sedins in Vancouver where he contributed at a pretty decent pace, but for only a short time.

Despite his streaky play, many hockey fans still see King as a pure goal scorer. Time will tell if he can deliver for the Caps and contribute when it counts.

From the Sun:

King dealt with concussion woes during the 2005-06 season and left the Moose/Canucks organization after the season to sign with Skelleftea HC in the Swedish Elite League. He returned to North America the following season, playing four games for former Moose coach Randy Carlyle with the Anaheim Ducks. He spent the majority of the campaign with the AHL’s Portland Pirates. King put up 29 goals and 59 points in 65 games with the Pirates, but decided to head back overseas the following season with the Mannheim Eagles in the DEL.The past two seasons, King had 41 goals and 36 assists for 77 points in 103 games with the Hamburg Freezers. 

King was originally drafted by the Canucks in round seven of the 2001 draft.

Let’s hope the success of the IceCaps and the city in general will help this guy along in rejuvenating his professional hockey career here in North America. Who knows, with any luck he could see some time with the Jets.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow on twitter @maplestirup or @SJ_IceCaps