WINNIPEG - Today was one of Paul Maurice's least favourite days of training camp.
"The tough part of the cuts is that they all worked so hard," Maurice said after the club re-assigned eight players to the Manitoba Moose, and 2016 first-round pick Logan Stanley back to the Windsor Spitfires.
"The natural thing to say is 'that's the depth chart then. That's where I rank.' That's not accurate at all," said Maurice. "There are pools of players, and they all do something differently."
There was a silver lining during his conversations with players today though. Maurice said he was pleased to hear that Stanley used training camp to chat with Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien about how to be an effective NHL defenceman.
"We wanted him to have as much of that interaction as he could. It's going to take him some years before he's an NHL defenceman," said Maurice. "Learning all the small things about how to position your body, how to roll off a hit, how to extend your stick, all those things, those training camp conversations are really important."
Along with Stanley, Eric Comrie, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Kosmachuk, Jan Kostalek, Jack Roslovic, Quinton Howden, Brenden Kichton, and JC Lipon were also re-assigned. Howden, Kichton, and Lipon are all pending waivers.
The byproduct of an extremely competitive camp is that Maurice has options when it comes to callups.
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"Now there are different styles of players. So when we need something brought up, we can look like a slightly different team by the style of player, whoever is going with the Moose, whoever is playing well," said Maurice. "I'm looking forward to seeing how they integrate into the Moose team and what that team is capable of doing as well."
With 21 forwards, nine defencemen, and three goaltenders left in camp, Maurice knows the tough decisions aren't over yet. Especially with only nine days to go until the home opener against Carolina.
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"The next round of cuts will be even more difficult," he said. "Everyone left can make a solid argument that they're good enough to play. But they're going to have to fight their way into the lineup."
LATE HITS: After leaving Monday's 4-2 win over Ottawa in the first period, Drew Stafford is on the mend according to Maurice. The forward is listed as day-to-day, and Maurice doesn't feel the injury is long-term.
As for Shawn Matthias, Maurice says the 28-year-old is healing faster than the team originally thought.
"He may be 100 percent healthy by opening night," Maurice said about Matthias' availability for the beginning of the season. "But I can't tell you how many practices he's had going into that. That will weigh into it as well."