The last thing the Winnipeg Jets needed to start the season was more injuries, especially to their defence. We will get to that in a moment. The Jets announced a couple of roster moves before their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. First, the Jets recalled defenceman Sami Niku and Nelson Nogier from the Manitoba Moose. In order for these moves to happen the Jets placed forward Bryan Little on injured reserve and granted defenceman Dmitry Kulikov a personal leave from the team.
#NHLJets have recalled defencemen Sami Niku and Nelson Nogier from the @ManitobaMoose.
Jets have also placed forward Bryan Little on injured reserve and given Dmitry Kulikov a personal leave from the team.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) October 8, 2019
Little Placed On IR, Niku Recalled
Right before the season started, the Jets announced that Little had suffered a concussion in the preseason finale against the Minnesota Wild. While he was close to returning to the lineup, Little was not going to play tonight in Pittsburgh. Therefore, the Jets announced his placement on IR as retroactive which means he can be removed anytime.
The situation with Kulikov is a little different. With Kulikov dealing with a personal matter at home, the Jets were given a roster exemption. Therefore no other moves needed to be made in order to add Niku to the roster.
Niku was drafted in the seventh round (198th overall) by the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. Last season for the Jets, Niku played in 30 games registering four points (one goal and three assists). Niku also played 20 games for the Moose last season and had 12 points (three goals and nine assists). This was a year after winning the Eddie Shore Award in 2017-18 as the AHL’s top defenceman.
A fourth-round pick (101st overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, has played in 11 career NHL games for the Jets. Nogier is a career minor leaguer and last season with the Moose played in 74 games registering nine points (one goal and eight assists).
What’s Next For Winnipeg
Already without Nathan Beaulieu, the Jets continue to hold defenceman Josh Morrissey out of the lineup. Even though Morrissey was a full participant in practice for the Jets on Monday and deemed good to go for tonight, he continued to feel discomfort an hour after practice. On Sunday night, the Jets listed Morrissey as day-to-day. The Jets defence cannot take anymore hits this season.
The Jets are hoping that Niku can step in and help steady the ship until Morrissey gets back. The young defenceman for the Jets had a tough training camp. Niku had to deal with a car accident and a groin pull. Therefore he was only able to get into one pre-season game. The Jets felt it would be better for him to get some conditioning down in the AHL. Through two games with the Manitoba Moose, he registered two points.
Niku will be in the lineup against the Penguins tonight. He will be paired with Carl Dahlstrom. Before the start of the season, Dahlstrom was signed off of waivers. As for Nogier, he will be the odd man out. Expect Morrissey and Little back sooner rather than later for the Jets. Having this many injuries to the defence is a new experience for the team and the head coach.
WINNIPEG, MB – FEBRUARY 11: Nikolaj Ehlers #27 of the Winnipeg Jets is congratulated by teammates Dustin Byfuglien #33 and Bryan Little #18 for his goal against Tuuka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins (not shown) in first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on February 11, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)