Winnipeg Jets Call up Defenseman Sami Niku

Sami Niku

The Winnipeg Jets have called up defencemen Sami Niku for Game Five of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Minnesota Wild. Niku was recently named the AHL defencemen of the Year.

Jets Call-Up Sami Niku

The Winnipeg Jets have called up Sami Niku from the Manitoba Moose to replace the suspended Josh Morrissey.

This year in Manitoba Niku scored 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points in 76 games. He also had 30 minutes in penalties. Niku had a goal in his only regular season game with the Jets this year. He was originally drafted in the seventh round, 198th in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets.

Scouting Report

The following comes from Ben Kerr, in last summer’s Top Shelf Prospects article:


Niku is another strong skater. His stride is long and smooth, giving him good speed and acceleration. This is also true about his backwards skating. His agility and pivots are particularly strong. Niku can change directions on a dime, allowing him to avoid forecheckers, or to stay with his man. He also transitions quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Niku could stand to add muscle to his lower body though, in order to be a little stronger on his skates.

Offensive Game

Niku has a powerful shot from the point. He uses his lateral agility to walk the line, opening up shooting lanes to get that shot off. Niku understands how to keep it low, and on the net, in order to give teammates opportunities for rebounds, deflections and tips. He is also a strong playmaker. Niku has good vision and good passing skills. He can skate the puck out of danger in his own end, as well as start the transition with a good pass. Niku has even been known to lead the rush, showing good stickhandling skill, and the ability to beat defenders one-on-one.

Defensive Game

Niku is undersized. He can get pushed around on the boards and struggles to clear big forwards in front of the net. He needs to add muscle in the next few years, especially as he transitions to the smaller sized ice surfaces. Niku has a quick stick and can poke-check the puck away from opponents. He is also very smart in his positioning and anticipation. While he will likely never be a bruiser, he can be an effective defender if he gains that additional strength.

What This Means

With Morrissey being suspended the Jets, needed to bring up a defenceman and they chose Niku. Niku was the 2018 defencemen of the year in the AHL. He will be the tenth different defencemen to dress for the Jets this season. The Jets are also missing Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers, and Dmitry Kulikov.

“Sami Niku has played one game in the NHL and he scored one goal,” Jets winger Blake Wheeler told the CBC.

The Jets currently lead the series three games to one over the Minnesota Wild. Game 5 goes Friday Night in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre.

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