The Winnipeg Jets have activated Logan Stanley from injured reserve and will insert him back into the lineup for the first time since January 20. The big defenseman is coming at the perfect time since Neal Pionk is unavailable. Pionk tested positive for coronavirus ten days ago with the team on the road and though he has played in the last two games, can’t travel back with the Jets to Canada until tomorrow.
Stanley, 23, is one of the most physically imposing players in the league, standing 6’7″ and weighing in at 228 lbs. Though it took the 2016 first-round pick some time to grow into his potential, he’s become a regular with the Jets this season, averaging just over 15 minutes a night through 35 games. With the team struggling to keep pace in the Central Division, another step forward in Stanley’s progression would certainly be welcomed.
In fact, the deployment of the Jets’ defense down the stretch will be an interesting thing to watch, especially if they fall completely out of the playoff race. The veteran group of Pionk, Josh Morrissey, Nate Schmidt, Brenden Dillon, and Dylan DeMelo are all signed through at least the 2023-24 season at cap hits of at least $3MM, but the team has young defensemen like Stanley and Ville Heinola pushing for more playing time. If the management group decides to start looking forward to the future, perhaps someone from that veteran group will start appearing in trade talks with contending teams.
For now though, Stanley jumps back into a group that is desperately trying to find a way to put wins on the board. The Jets took Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators and now have a winnable match against the Chicago Blackhawks. A team that was considered a Stanley Cup contender before the season began, Winnipeg sits sixth in the Central with a 20-17-8 record.