The Winnipeg Jets have a dilemma on their hands, and that dilemma’s name is Brad Lambert.
Following yet another strong performance from the 18-year-old, the Winnipeg Jets have a lot of thinking to do before they decide where Brad Lambert starts the 2022-23 season.
Lambert has three realistic options for the upcoming year, all of which have their benefits and drawbacks. The young forward can start with the Jets, the Manitoba Moose, or wind up in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Lambert has shown in his preseason action that he has a lot to bring to the table, and has now impressed in both of his appearances.
So, what’s the best option?
The Winnipeg Jets have a lot of thinking to do before they decide where Brad Lambert starts the 2022-23 season
Brad Lambert has no regular season action under his belt, which is why two impressive preseason games are the talk of the town. That said, it is very hard to make decisions about an 18-year-old with limited action on North American ice.
The Jets have two games remaining in the 2022 preseason, and it is expected that Lambert features heavily in both of those games.
Another aspect of this upcoming decision is the fact that the young Finn hasn’t signed his entry-level contract with the Jets. If the Jets decide to keep him in the NHL to start the season, he will need to put pen to paper in the next two weeks.
The next best option is to keep him in Winnipeg, but instead with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
Lambert has shown that he can play against players older than him, playing with the Lahti Pelicans in Finland’s Liiga. Playing in the AHL against older players will likely benefit his all-around game, teaching him the nuances of the North American professional leagues.
It also presents a challenge to the young forward, which could push his game to new heights. At 18, Lambert already looks prepared to take on the challenge of NHL hockey.
Challenges aside, if Lambert succeeds and the Jets need to fill a hole in their forward group, assigning him to the AHL allows for his immediate call-up as a reward or as a necessity.
If the Jets decide to wait for the time being, the Moose will happily accept his talents onto their already impressive roster.
However, if the Jets struggle to score, the crafty Lambert could be an option to inject scoring into the lineup. That said, his call-up could also be a reward for great play in the AHL. If he finds immediate success with the Moose, that could be all the Jets need to see in order to make the call and bring him up into NHL action.
“In open ice, he’s going to make something happen”, said head coach Rick Bowness in his post-game availability. “I love the way that he gets the puck and just goes. For an 18-year-old kid, he’s confident with the puck.”
That call-up, however, is only possible if the Jets choose to keep him in their system for the year. That isn’t possible if they decide to send him to the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.
Seattle acquired Lambert’s rights from the Saskatoon Blades over the summer in hopes they would get the chance to view the Jets’ prospect live and up close.
While that chance still remains, it makes the least sense for the Jets.
Lambert would undoubtedly excel in the WHL. This wouldn’t surprise many, as he’s shown that he can be electric in training camp, but does it really benefit him?
It’s difficult to see how he could develop any further in a league that presents less of a challenge to his skill level. Sure, he could put up 120 points for Seattle, but aside from building additional confidence, what is it doing for him as a player?
From an asset management and development point of view, it doesn’t seem to make sense for either party.
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With two games remaining in the preseason, plenty of questions still need to be solved. The Lambert dilemma remains at the forefront of these discussions, and the next two preseason contests should help clear things up.
Winnipeg Jets Fans: Where do you think Brad Lambert should start his season? Leave your comments below!