Who will survive the battle at the back end?

For the first time since the fall of 2014, someone other than Paul Morris will run training camp for the Winnipeg Jets.

And while those expected winds of change didn’t include many moves on the staff’s part, it’s clear that new coach Rick Bowness will have some thoughts and ideas about how things will be different for the next version of the Jets.

Bowness sent shock waves around the NHL last week when the Jets announced that longtime captain Blake Wheeler would no longer wear a C.

If that decision is a sign of what’s to come, this training camp could feature a number of surprises when it comes to who plays with whom and who ultimately enters an already crowded blue streak.

What we do know for sure is that Bowness plans to implement some stylistic adjustments when it comes to how the aircraft will appear on the ice.

“We are going to change the way we play. We want to be a more aggressive team,” Bownes said last week when addressing the change in leadership line.

Bownis did his best to make sure he wasn’t here last season – when Gates underperformed and finished 11th in the Western Conference and missed the Stanley Cup playoffs by eight points – so he doesn’t know exactly where things went.

But he plans to spend pre-season getting to know his players and looking for a variety of answers to help the team move forward.

“I can tell you this, and I’ve said this before, I was so encouraged talking with the guys all summer that this is a much tighter set than visualizing the room. That was very encouraging for me,” said Bowness. “Also, you can tell by their tone. And to formulate them, they want to accept more responsibility. They are all disappointed with what happened last year and now they are behind us.”

Disappointment will certainly be somewhat of a motivating factor for the team entering the new season with much lower external expectations than a season ago, but it also stands at an obvious crossroads.

With a number of key players with contracts expiring during the summer of 2024, there should be a high level of urgency on display, knowing what is at stake for a number of players when it comes to the future direction of this team.

“I think everyone is looking forward to it and we don’t really know what to expect,” Wheeler said last week. “You’ve got a new coaching staff. There’s going to be some changes to the way we play and some learning in the training camp. But the atmosphere in our team is; I think we’ve got a good group of guys with a chip on their shoulders and you can see some kind of fire in our room right now. It looks like there’s some Motives in our room this year.”

It remains to be seen where that drive leads this group, but this bootcamp should feature a few more intense roster fights than we’ve seen over the past several seasons.

Current salary cap area: $4.67 million (according to Cap Friendly)
Director general: Kevin Chivaldayov
Coach: Rick Bowness (season 1)
Assistant coaches: Scott Arnell (assistant coach), Brad Lauer, Marty Johnston, Wade Flaherty (goalkeeper coach), Matt Prefontaine (video coach)
Unsigned players: no one

One important question: How will the defense forces be shaken?

The position has faced the most scrutiny over the past several seasons and the narrative surrounding organizational depth has changed dramatically.

The aircraft have gone from a group that was very weak to one with a range of options which is why many observers expected the organization to take a step to alleviate the impasse sometime this summer.

Instead, the Jets are entering a training camp with at least eight NHL pioneers ready for action and two more — Declan Chisholm and Johnny Kovacevic — ready to show they can take another step after performing well on spot service when they were pushed into action last season.

Potential defense partner Leon Gawank is moving into the pool of players looking to make his NHL debut and is no longer conceding the exemption, but at this point, he is likely the eleventh man in the depth chart.

While Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was right when he said that any organization would rather have too many D-men than not enough, if the Jets are to incorporate Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg into regular roles this season, the A step or two is going to need to be done.

So you can be sure Cheveldayoff will continue to look for a deal that can help boost a front group that could benefit from a center wing.

But who is the veteran who will navigate and generate the best return?

Is this an overpowering factor?

If you look at the way Summer has played across the league, a guy like Brenden Dillon will be on the radar for a number of teams but the Jets aren’t really interested in moving him, because he brings a lot of sandpaper and intangibles to the table for a group that doesn’t play with a whole lot of features.

While one should expect some experimentation with six show games on the agenda, it will be interesting to see what the pairs look like on day one on Thursday.

Will Bowness keep pairs steady together?

Will he be looking to make adjustments to the closing coupling?

Would he consider using Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk together or having them make the best pairs separately?

Will Dylan DeMello stay with Morrissey or will he be asked to help facilitate a move to one of Heinola or Samberg?

Where does Nate Schmidt end after starting last season as the best duo but finishing season three?

What about Logan Stanley, the first all-rounder in 2016 who endured a challenging season after working his way up to becoming a regular in the National Hockey League?

Is he ready for a counterattack and might Bowness see some of the qualities in Stanley that he saw in Jimmy Oleksiak during his time with the Dallas Stars?

Samberg has dealt with some tough injuries last season that have hampered his momentum – including an ankle injury he suffered on his first day outside main camp – and while his professional hockey experience has been limited to 79 games over the past two seasons, the 23-year-old is ready to go. to leave his mark.

The same goes for Heinola, whose vision and ability to move the puck are qualities that should serve him well as the Jets look to implement a more agile and aggressive style of play.

But if Heinola and Samberg are willing to cement their positions, that means the veterans will either find themselves as an outsider or perhaps move on to a new team.

So the competition shouldn’t take long to intensify, which should end with bringing out the best in the group.

Training camp battle to watch: Who will be the left winger with Adam Lowry?

One would expect Bowness to publish Adam Lowry’s streak in a similar fashion as he did in Dallas with Radek Vaxa, which would likely mean a heavy dose of head-to-head confrontation with the opposition’s more offensive streak.

With Mason Appleton reclaiming from the Seattle Kraken after losing in the expansion draft late last season, the Jets have two-thirds of their check-plus set and ready to go.

But after seeing the revolving door of left-footed players playing alongside him last season, one would expect Laurie to be a more stable teammate this year.

With Kristian Vesalainen, the 2017 Jets’ first all-rounder, playing in Sweden this season after never finding his groove, the chance will knock on someone to win the job.

The top candidates appear to be Morgan Barron (who was acquired by the New York Rangers in a deadline deal for Andrew Cobb) and Jansen Harkins, who is looking to make an impression on the revamped coaching staff.

Barron has three goals and six points in 33 National Hockey League games, but he’s a responsible two-way player (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) and is looking forward to his first full season in the NHL.

Harkins, who has 10 goals and 22 points in 132 NHL games, needs to take a step forward this season after showing previous flashes.

Versatile striker Sam Gagner could also be a man to play in the discussion, should the Jets choose to use him or use Appleton on their wing.

Gagner is a man who can contribute offensively but has been used in a slightly more checking role for the past several seasons.

Expected line outside the camp

Cole Perfetti Mark Shevel Nicholas Eilers
Kyle Connor Pierre Luc Dubois Blake Wheeler
Jansen Harkins, Adam Lowrey, Mason Appleton
Morgan Baron David Gustafson Sam Gagner

Josh Morrissey Neil Bionic
Dylan Samberg Brendan Dillon
Phil Heinola Nate Schmidt / Dylan DeMello
Logan Stanley

Connor Hellbuick
David Ritich