The Most Intriguing Training-Camp Battle to Watch for Every NHL Team in 2015-16

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2015

The Most Intriguing Training-Camp Battle to Watch for Every NHL Team in 2015-16

0 of 30

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Across the NHL this fall, training camps will have intense battles for starting roles. Although NHL teams have done their best to address needs, some expensive solutions will be found wanting, and a few prospects are going to find a way into the lineup.

    Every team has a specific area that may offer opportunity for new hires and prospects, and those areas are going to receive a lot of attention from the coaching staff, media and fans.

    Here are the most fascinating potential battles as NHL teams begin to prepare for training camp for the 2015-16 season.

Anaheim Ducks: All the Imported Role-Playing Forwards

1 of 30

    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Anaheim Ducks are loaded on the top two lines for 2015-16 and added to their riches when Carl Hagelin was acquired from the New York Rangers. For the bottom two lines, the Ducks have procured veteran role players Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart and Mike Santorelli. The beauty of these players comes from having a range of skills and being able to play up and down the lineup as required by injuries, slumps and trades. 

    Who Has The Edge? The new hires are going to be fighting for playing time and will likely push established players like Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman—as well as each other. It's a close race, and no one appears to have an early edge.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? All of these moves are short-term solutions. The role players acquired this summer are in an effort to get out of the Western Conference next spring. The Anaheim Ducks are going for it, loading up for a run at the Stanley Cup in 2016.

Arizona Coyotes: Brandon Gormley Versus the Field

2 of 30

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Arizona Coyotes spent the summer adding to their defense. Their big-minutes defensemen of a year ago—Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zbynek Michalek, Michael Stone—have been joined by Nicklas Grossman. That leaves several young players for the final spots, including Brandon Gormley, Connor Murphy and Klas Dahlbeck.

    Who Has The Edge? Gormley must clear waivers—as Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic's article indicated—and that probably gives him the edge over a player like Dahlbeck.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? As a former first-round pick, Gormley is going to get a lot of chances. He hasn't been able to win a job as a regular up until now, and this is going to be a huge year for him. Coyotes fans also know there's likely to be at least one substantial training-camp invite to push the rest.

Boston Bruins: Oh, That Defense!

3 of 30

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Boston Bruins have no obvious answers for their defensive group after Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid. Matt Irwin is in from the San Jose Sharks and should help, Kevan Miller has seen an increasing role and Zach Trotman is also in the mix. 

    Who Has The Edge? Irwin appears to be a lock for a top-six role, possible second pairing if the team uses McQuaid in a support role. Irwin has just 153 games NHL experience and played only 17 minutes a night last season, so would be stepping up substantially in terms of responsibility.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? The Bruins should be trying to sign Christian Ehrhoff or Cody Franson today. They are in real trouble defensively and are going to be counting on minor league players such as Joe Morrow as things stand.

Buffalo Sabres: Who Plays with Jack Eichel?

4 of 30

    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Buffalo Sabres have a generational rookie in Jack Eichel and one of the major items for the team this fall will be finding suitable linemates. Eichel is a bigger center; he should be able to take care of himself physically, but the team will want to place veterans with skill and some grit with him for the rookie run. 

    Who Has The Edge? Evander Kane hasn't played a game for the Sabres yet, but he offers a physical edge along with exceptional offense. He would be a strong option for Eichel's port side. A veteran such as Brian Gionta on the other side might offer experience to the young center and some cover on the defensive side of the game.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Eichel is an outstanding talent and will quickly adapt to his new surroundings. It's almost impossible to predict who he'll be partnered with down the line, but Kane would be an attractive early option. If they develop chemistry together, it could be a long-term solution.

Calgary Flames: Who Plays with Dougie Hamilton on the Second Pairing?

5 of 30

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Calgary Flames made a monster trade this summer with the Boston Bruins, adding defender Dougie Hamilton. Calgary has a formidable top pairing in Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, and Hamilton is likely to team up with one of last year's second-pairing blue—Kris Russell or Dennis Wideman.

    Who Has The Edge? Russell is an undersized but rugged defender who moves the puck well and can play the position with aplomb. He's a left-handed defender, so he would complement Hamilton—who shoots right—in the formation of a traditional defensive pair. Wideman is right-handed and can also move the puck and make a difference with the man advantage. Wideman duplicates Hamilton's skills, so that may mean he's the odd man out. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Calgary has two very good options to pair with Hamilton, and Russell could be a good fit. Long term, it's possible Calgary moves Giordano due to cap issues and makes their top pairing Brodie and Hamilton. It's a very nice problem to have in Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes: Can the Field Beat Noah Hanifin for NHL Employment?

6 of 30

    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Carolina Hurricanes did well this summer in acquiring veteran defenseman James Wisniewski, but more capable players are needed for the team to contend. As things currently stand, Noah Hanifin is signed to a pro deal and could play in any number of leagues next season. Based on Carolina's depth chart, keeping Hanifin off the NHL team will be difficult.

    Who Has The Edge? Hanifin had a good shot at the NHL roster the moment he signed a pro contract. The Hurricanes should be able to count on Wisniewski, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles and Ron Hainsey as NHL options in 2015-16. After that, things are very thin for Carolina on defense.

    Michal Jordan and Ryan Murphy played last season and could increase their roles, and names like Jacob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Keegan Lowe and highly touted Haydn Fleury in the mix.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Carolina could end up with two or even three young defensemen pushing up the depth chart this fall. Hanifin is easily the most gifted and may win a job opening night. If he loses out, it's still just a matter of time before Hurricanes' fans see their new franshise defender in the NHL.

Chicago Blackhawks: Who Is the No. 4 Defenseman?

7 of 30

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Chicago Blackhawks had major cap issues entering the summer, and one of the solutions was trading away Johnny Oduya. The 'Hawks top three on defense is obvious, as Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson are locked and loaded as top-flight options. The big question in camp: Who ends up as the No. 4 defenseman?

    Who Has The Edge? Trevor Daley was acquired in the Oduya trade and is the obvious choice entering camp. However, Daley's play involves considerable chaos, and Chicago may choose to go with a more defensively reliable player. Candidates include Ville Pokka and Erik Gustafsson, as well as incumbent depth players Trevor Van Riemsdyk and David Rundblad.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Pokka has the highest long-term potential, and Gustafsson is also an interesting option. Daley is only 31 so he could be around a long time, and it's always wise to bet on the veteran to keep his job, even if it is in a new city.

Colorado Avalanche: Who Lines Up on the Second Pairing?

8 of 30

    Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Colorado Avalanche did some major work on their defense this summer. Adding veteran Francois Beauchemin gives the team an outstanding potential partner for Erik Johnson on the top pairing. Nikita Zadorov is a substantial young defenseman and could end up being the key summer acquisition. He should be a lock for the second pairing, the question comes when finding him a suitable partner from the current roster. 

    Who Has The Edge? Nate Guenin and Brad Stuart are the obvious choices among the incumbents, with Tyson Barrie also a possibility, depending on how the second pairing is used. If Zadorov is to be used for tough assignments, Nick Holden might be the best inside choice.  

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? It's highly likely the Avalanche continue to bring in and add more capable defensive options in the next 12 months. Although the additions of Beauchemin and Zadorov are major upgrades, Colorado's defense needs a lot of work.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Who Centers Brandon Saad?

9 of 30

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Columbus Blue Jackets added a brilliant young winger via trade this summer, acquiring Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. Saad will be a feature winger, and Blue Jackets management will likely place him with Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky or Boone Jenner in 2015-16. 

    Who Has The Edge? Johansen is the most talented center, but he was successful with Nick Foligno last season—as shown by—and it may be wise to keep those two together. Brandon Dubinsky has a wide range of skills and has been successful with role-playing wingers, so he may be the best option. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Columbus has a brilliant young group of forwards for the future, and finding a strong fit for Saad is a big part of training camp. If the Blue Jackets can cobble together two scoring lines, the team may well take that next step and enjoy a long playoff run.

Dallas Stars: Who's in Goal?

10 of 30

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Dallas Stars struggled defensively last season, and part of the solution this summer was signing goaltender Antti Niemi. He'll battle incumbent Kari Lehtonen for the starting job in 2015-16.

    Who Has The Edge? This is a very even battle. Niemi's save percentage in San Jose was .914, but that was in front of a quality defensive team. Lehtonen posted just .903, but he had to play in front of the chaotic Stars' defense.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Both men are 31, and neither would appear to be a strong long-term solution. Dallas has perennial prospect Jack Campbell waiting in the wings, and he may well be the next No. 1 for the Stars.

Detroit Red Wings: Where Does Brad Richards Play?

11 of 30

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Detroit Red Wings have some real issues at center, especially at the beginning of the year. Pavel Datsyuk is recovering from ankle surgery, and Paul Harris from reported Datsyuk believes he'll miss some NHL time. Harris also states the plan is to run Richards as the No. 1 center, but there are other interesting candidates.

    Who Has The Edge? The most effective option is probably Henrik Zetterberg, who can play wing or pivot effectively. The club's emerging talents include Riley Sheahan, who appears to be a legitimate No. 2 center-in-waiting.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Replacing Datsyuk short term is difficult but manageable. Replacing him long term is impossible due to his unique and ranging skills. The Red Wings need Pavel Datsyuk in their lineup if they're going to be a serious contender.

Edmonton Oilers: A Tough Battle on Defense

12 of 30

    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    The Battle: The Edmonton Oilers added Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart to the defensive mix over the summer. Men such as Mark Fayne, Justin Schultz, Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ference and Oscar Klefbom return from last year's team. It may come down to some experienced veterans versus the department of youth—including phenom Darnell Nurse.

    Who Has The Edge? Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference have NHL contracts and can't clear waivers, whereas youngsters such as Nurse and Reinhart can be sent to the AHL for more seasoning.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? It's very likely Nurse and Reinhart are long-term solutions to the Oilers problems, and at some point this season expect both to emerge as every-day players.

Florida Panthers: Who Plays with Huberdeau and Barkov?

13 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Florida Panthers are building a strong NHL team in Miami, and much of their success will come via the team's youth. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau played together for much of the season and were effective. Finding a linemate for those two young stars is a key to this year's training camp. 

    Who Has The Edge? Jaromir Jagr was a splendid option last season—confirmed, per—and has the edge entering training camp. Reilly Smith is an interesting option, although he lacks the top-end skill of Jagr.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? The two kids are going to need a long-term solution eventually, but the Panthers would be wise to run them with Jagr so they can soak up all the knowledge they can in the 2015-16 season.

Los Angeles Kings: Where Does Milan Lucic Play?

14 of 30

    Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Los Angeles Kings hit a monster home run in acquiring impact winger Milan Lucic over the summer. There are 30 teams looking for a player like him, and the Kings acquired the original from the Boston Bruins. Where does he play this coming season? It's a tough question to answer. 

    Who Has The Edge? Anze Kopitar is the Kings' best center and spent most of last season with Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams—information, per Lucic might be a more-than-able replacement for the now-departed Williams on that line. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Lucic is a free agent at the end of the 2015-16 season, but the Kings often sign their big acquisitions, and if the club has success, that's a likely conclusion. Lucic is such a unique talent, it's probably wise to expect Los Angeles to move heaven and earth to get him signed long term as a winger for Kopitar.

Minnesota Wild: Who Partners with Matt Dumba?

15 of 30

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Minnesota Wild have an emerging defenseman in Matt Dumba, who has substantial offensive ability and a physical edge. Dumba is unique and will require a reliable partner.

    Who Has The Edge? Dumba played with a variety of defensemen last season, but his 117 minutes with Ryan Suter and 138 minutes with Marco Scandella were very effective, as shown by These are small sample sizes but offer insight into the player-type who may be most effective with Dumba.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Dumba could end up being a major player on the Wild. Finding a partner who allows Dumba to wheel and ad-lib is a major question facing Minnesota this season.

Montreal Canadiens: Who Pairs with Jeff Petry?

16 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Montreal Canadiens acquired Jeff Petry at the trade deadline and signed him to a long-term deal based on solid play. Finding him a suitable partner will be a big issue this fall.

    Who Has The Edge? After his acquisition at the deadline, Petry was not effective when paired with Alexei Emelin, as shown by He may be a better match with young Nathan Beaulieu, who lacks experience but has a nice range of skills.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Adding Petry at the deadline and then signing him was a stroke of genius by Montreal management. The next step is for the coaching staff to find a suitable partner and that pairing could solve a lot of problems for years to come.

Nashville Predators: Who Is Steve Moses and Where Will He Play?

17 of 30

    Sergei Grits/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Nashville Predators signed 26-year old Steve Moses on the strength of his impressive KHL season. The Predators are always on the lookout for forwards who can contribute, and Moses is something of a wild card entering camp. It's anyone's guess where he'll play in the lineup. 

    Who Has The Edge? The top two lines should be populated by James Neal, Filip Forsberg and several centers who can also play wing. Moses is probably in a contest for third-line employment with names like Gabriel Bourque, Calle Jarnkrok and Cody Hodgson. He's an outsider entering training camp, but that might be an advantage—he'll be a curio for the coaching staff from day one.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Moses could be a Predators winger for a month, a year or several seasons. He's an absolute mystery entering camp, and that makes him an exciting player to watch for Nashville fans.

New Jersey Devils: Who Will Be on the Scoring Lines?

18 of 30

    Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

    The Battle: The New Jersey Devils are in a transition period, and we may see more movement during the 2015-16 season. The skilled men include Mike Cammalleri, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri, but there are challenges and opportunities galore. Who will play on the skill lines? 

    Who Has The Edge? Travis Zajac was disappointing offensively last year, but the Devils have no choice but to hope for a rebound. Young wingers Reid Boucher and  Stefan Matteau offer some hope, but the club may not have Ryane Clowe this coming year. GM Ray Shero told Rich Chere of NJ Advance Media (via the big winger's career may be over. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? It looks like a long winter in New Jersey, but there is help on the way. Draft picks from recent years—including Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville—could make the team this fall and have some impact. New Jersey's changing of the guard will begin on the skill lines in the next 18 months.

New York Islanders: Where Does Anders Lee Play?

19 of 30

    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    The Battle: The New York Islanders have a tremendous young talent in Anders Lee. His 25 goals last season ranked him No. 2 on the team, per, despite the fact he played most of the time with Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. Where will he play in 2015-16?

    Who Has The Edge? Lee was effective with John Tavares in 300 minutes, scoring 11 points and helping the Islanders keep the edge in play—as shown, per If that pairing can mesh, New York will have the potential to ice three lines capable of scoring on any shift.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Tavares is the team's franchise center and has had success with Kyle Okposo over the years. If Lee can add to the group, New York may have a famous line to put on the ice through the end of this decade and beyond.

New York Rangers: Who Plays on the Third Line?

20 of 30

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The Battle: The New York Rangers are a very successful team, and part of it comes from a strong No. 3 line. In the 2013-14 season, Derick Brassard was effective with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. Last year, J.T. Miller formed a quality trio with Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes. With Hagelin gone and Hayes moving up the depth chart, who will play with Miller? 

    Who Has The Edge? The Rangers paid a heavy price for Emerson Etem, who has some of the same elements in his game as Hagelin, so he's a good bet to at least get the opportunity. Viktor Stalberg has faded some, but he remains a player with some ability. Jesper Fast may have to fight for playing time but is a solid complementary player, and the organization is clearly fond of what Tanner Glass can bring to the game.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? New York appears to run their No. 3 line as an audition line, with successful candidates moving up and unsuccessful ones finding work on the No. 4 line or another NHL team. None of the solutions are long term, but there's a lot of talent here. The Rangers will no doubt ice another strong No. 3 line in 2015-16.

Ottawa Senators: Who Plays Second Pairing with Cody Ceci?

21 of 30

    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Ottawa Senators are going through a quick rebuild on defense and badly need someone to step up on the second pairing. The top duo of Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot appear healthy and set but putting the next duo together is vital for the team's success. 

    Who Has The Edge? Patrick Wiercioch played well with Ceci last season, as the pairing won the possession game with 53 percent while playing together at even strength—as shown by Ceci was less successful with Jared Cowen, but the Senators appear bound and determined to find an NHL home for their 2009 first-round selection.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Both Wiercioch and Cowen could be with the Senators for the next decade or could be sent away at the trade deadline. It's the nature of rebuilding on the fly—the pressure to deliver immediately is enormous.

Philadelphia Flyers: What Will the Defense Look Like?

22 of 30

    Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Philadelphia Flyers could have substantial turnover on their blue line in the coming season—beginning as early as training camp. Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Radko Gudas and Nick Schultz are the incumbents, but that's likely to change during the season. The Flyers have a large group of replacements on the way.

    Who Has The Edge? The Flyers signed Yevgeni Medvedev in free agency, and he'll be in the mix for a job with Brandon Manning. Prospects Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin are all considered quality prospects, and some could be NHL-ready this fall.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? The Flyers have devoted an enormous amount of their resources in recent seasons to fix the defense, and the kids are close. When they're ready, fans will see a large number of veterans traded, and that battle will begin in training camp.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Who Gets Kessel?

23 of 30

    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Phil Kessel in the summer and look forward to the sniper having a big scoring season. On 29 NHL teams the No. 1 center for Kessel would be obvious, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have two generational talents who play the position.

    Who Has The Edge? The first choice will probably be Sidney Crosby, but he was effective with Patric Hornqvist last year, and that combination may end up together again in 2015-16. Evgeni Malkin is the other option, and his abilities may end up being a better fit for Kessel.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? The Penguins have incredible options this fall, and there is no wrong answer. All of the players involved are young enough to have sustained success over several seasons if things go well. It's completely possible Phil Kessel is heading into the best seasons of his career.

San Jose Sharks: Who Plays with Paul Martin?

24 of 30

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Battle: The San Jose Sharks added defender Paul Martin to their group this summer, and he'll be a big part of the team's success in 2015-16. The top pairing one year ago was Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Justin Braun, with Brent Burns and Brenden Dillon also effective.

    Who Has The Edge? Martin's skills are probably a good match for Justin Braun, making the top pairing Vlasic with Burns. The Vlasic-Burns combination should frighten NHL teams if they end up together. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? The Sharks' top two pairings look very good on paper, and pushing down talents like Dillon mean the depth is also improved. If this group works we could see success in San Jose.

St. Louis Blues: Will Jake Allen Win the Starting Goalie Job Outright?

25 of 30

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    The Battle: The St. Louis Blues ran with Brian Elliott as the starter in 45 games in 2014-15, and Jake Allen received 32 starts. That switched in the playoffs, as Allen started all six games. Who will win the job this year?

    Who Has The Edge? The playoff starts are a tip from management and coaching—they want Allen to grab the job and run with it. He'll get every chance to win the No. 1 role but will have to be consistent in order to keep it. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Allen is only 24 and could own the net for a decade if he can nail things down. It's an enormous opportunity.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Is There a Goalie Controversy?

26 of 30

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Tampa Bay Lightning have a strong goaltending tandem in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Bishop is a year away from free agency, and the team may look to transition to their electric prospect Vasilevskiy.

    Who Has The Edge? Bishop is the more proven player, but Vasilevskiy has long been regarded as the game's best goaltending prospect. If he's ready, the Russian is the type of goalie teams make room for—and the cap savings will be substantial. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Vasilevskiy has the look of a franchise goalie and could sustain the team for a decade. Bishop remains a fine option, and the Lightning have no urgency in making the decision.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Who Plays Right Wing on the Top Line?

27 of 30

    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Toronto Maple Leafs begin life without Phil Kessel this fall, and it may be painful. The club does have some candidates to fill the top right-wing job, and it could be a season-long competition.

    Who Has The Edge? Joffrey Lupul has enjoyed some significant NHL scoring seasons and is familiar with all available centers. P.A. Parenteau is another interesting option, and there's a possibility William Nylander emerges from a group of prospects. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Only Nylander should be considered a lock to be here in a year, as Toronto's overhaul will probably involve more exits during the season.

Vancouver Canucks: Who Flanks Brandon Sutter?

28 of 30

    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Vancouver Canucks acquired Brandon Sutter this summer with an eye to create a strong No. 2 line. Sutter will need gritty two-way wingers, as well as some offensive punch to be successful.

    Who Has The Edge? Chris Higgins is a veteran who can help offensively on the portside. The Canucks have two possible options for the other wing: Jannik Hansen has good speed, some skill and he has a rugged playing style. Alexandre Burrows is a nasty piece of work who can impact the game offensively. 

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? None in this group are likely to be a long-term answer, but Sven Baertschi is in the mix and could surprise.

Washington Capitals: Who Plays Right Wing with Ovechkin and Backstrom?

29 of 30

    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Washington Capitals ran several wingers with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom last season but never could find the right fit. T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams were added over the summer, and one of them is likely to get the lion's share of time on the No. 1 line.

    Who Has The Edge? Oshie has the offensive advantage, coming off a 55-point season in 2014-15. Williams—who posted 41 points a year ago—is a better two-way player and would give the line more of a defensive conscience.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? Oshie could find a home on that right side with the two impact forwards, but fans might see both men during the 2014-15 season.

Winnipeg Jets: Who Mentors Nikolaj Ehlers?

30 of 30

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    The Battle: The Winnipeg Jets have one of the best procurement systems in the game, and winger Nikolaj Ehlers is next up among the blue-chip prospects. Finding him a good mentor will be a key element in training camp and the preseason. 

    Who Has The Edge? Winnipeg has some interesting options, but the best one might be Alexander Burmistrov, himself a highly touted draft pick for the franchise when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. Other possible mentors include Brian Little and Mark Scheifele, although both will likely play on the top lines next season.

    Are These Long-Term Solutions? All of the young Jets are possible long-term solutions, and a young player like Ehlers can also look to leaders like Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler for guidance. Winnipeg is a very good young team, and Ehlers may be a big part of the future.

    Stats are courtesy of, unless noted otherwise.