As the Winnipeg Jets open their 2022-23 season on October 14th, the Manitoba Moose begin their season just one day later against the Rockford Icehogs.
After making the playoffs for the first time since 2018, the Moose look to make a deeper run with a very talented team. With many returning players and prospects, the Moose seem primed to have a big year.
Several factors must click into place for them to be as dangerous as they are on paper, but the raw talent of this team is among the best in the league.
With many returning players and Winnipeg Jets prospects, the Manitoba Moose seem primed to have a big year
Team Record: 41-24-7
Leading Scorer: Mikey Eyssimont (42 points)
Leading Goal Scorer: Jeff Mallot (23 goals)
Team MVP: Cole Maier
Rookie of the Year: Greg Meireles
The Manitoba Moose returned to the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2018, finishing second in the Central Division. Their playoff journey was cut short, as they lost in five games to the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville’s AHL affiliate).
The Moose had a very talented team in 2021-22 but were ultimately held back by shaky goaltending and the occasional offensive dry spell.
The crease was split three ways throughout the season, with Mikhail Berdin shouldering the load with 32 games played. Rookie starter Arvid Holm played in 24 games, while frequent ECHL call-up Evan Cormier made 14 starts. Philippe Desrosiers also made four starts.
Berdin and Holm were the most common tandem but struggled down the stretch. Berdin recorded a .902 save percentage and Holm a .877 save percentage. This was the biggest weakness of an otherwise good team, and the shaky goaltending was their undoing. Despite regularly outshooting opponents, the Moose would lose close games when they just couldn’t get a save.
That being said, the team was filled with bright spots. The stand-out pair of Declan Chisholm and Leon Gawanke became a dominant duo on the blue line, while rookies Cole Perfetti, Daniel Torgersson, and Simon Lundmark were able to thrive.
The Manitoba Moose are loaded with talent this season. The Winnipeg Jets prospect pipeline is flowing freely in the AHL, seeing players like Brad Lambert, Chaz Lucius, and Daniel Torgersson get elevated into high-leverage roles.
It is expected that Lambert features heavily in the upcoming season. It’s a tall ask for an 18-year-old to step into a top-line role in his first season in North America, but he’ll be placed among veterans to help ease the load.
Among the AHL veterans, we see the return of Jansen Harkins. Harkins was waived by the Winnipeg Jets after an underwhelming training camp. Now, he’ll look to impress on the top line in an attempt to return to a full-time NHL role. Expect Harkins to come into the AHL season with a chip on his shoulder.
The defense remains somewhat unchanged, featuring both Chisholm and Gawanke, and the return of Ville Heinola. Despite making a run at an NHL job, Heinola returns to the Moose for another season. The third pairing will likely feature some newcomers, as those final two spots appear to be up for grabs heading into the year.
The real challenge for the Moose this season will be in goal. Mikhail Berdin, the Moose leader in games played in 2021-22, will not be with the organization for 2022-23. The starter’s job will initially fall to Arvid Holm, who looks to bounce back after a poor rookie season.
The Manitoba Moose backup will be Oskari Salminen, an undrafted free agent signing from Finland. Salminen impressed in Winnipeg Jets training camp and could surprise this season when given the crease. Entering his first season in North America, the AHL game should be a challenge for Salminen. Playing in 55 games for Jukurit Mikkeli of Finland’s Liiga in 2021-22, Salminen registered a record of 29-14-11, with a .920 save percentage.
2022-23 Projected Lines
Jeff Mallot – Jansen Harkins – Brad Lambert
Daniel Torgerson – Kevin Stenlund – Chaz Lucius
Mikey Eyssimont – Alex Limoges – Kristian Reichel
Evan Polei – Cole Maier – Greg Meireles
Notable Extras: Nicolas Jones, Henri Nikkanen, Wyatt Bongiovanni
Declan Chisholm – Leon Gawanke
Ville Heinola – Simon Lundmark
Ashton Sautner – Tyrel Bauer
Notable Extras: Simon Kubicek, Jimmy Oligny (INJ)
The Manitoba Moose appear ready to challenge for a Calder Cup. If their goaltending situation stabilizes, anticipate the Moose to not only make the playoffs but to make a deep run.
The combination of AHL veterans and talented youth should give a great deal of depth to the Winnipeg Jets’ affiliate, making them very hard to play against. Their scoring should be among the highest in the league, all while possessing one of the most talented defensive groups.
With the reigning Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves appearing to be their stiffest competition, the Moose are well positioned to challenge the talented Wolves to win the Central Division in 2022-23.