WINNIPEG - Put Tucker Poolman at the top of the list of Jets defenceman who noticed the possible opportunities on the blueline this fall.
Before this summer, Poolman saw the log-jam on the right side with names like Byfuglien, Myers and Trouba ahead of him on the depth chart. But the Iowa native didn't change how he prepared for training camp.
"I just tried to treat it like every summer and just come in, in shape and ready to go." said Poolman.
Video: TRAINING CAMP | Tucker Poolman
The 26-year-old defenceman played 24 games with the Jets in 2017-18. Yet when the Jets had some holes to fill during last season due to injuries especially in December, Poolman was dealing with his own bumps and bruises. While it could be viewed as a missed opportunity to prove himself again, his attitude looks to be the right attitude.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated with the timing," said Poolman.
"But that's the way life is. You can't control it so you just have to come in with a smile and be ready to rehab and work."
Poolman has played in both preseason games and his ice time average is around 17 minutes. He had eight hits in Edmonton on Monday and really brought attention to himself at the halfway mark of the first period against the Wild on Winnipeg.
Minnesota's Mike Liambas took a run at Dmitry Kulikov earlier in the period and that's when Poolman stepped in. Poolman dropped the gloves with Liambas on the Wild forwards' next shift - a spirited scrap to say the least.
"He can skate for sure and that allows him all the things that we've talked about here on the fourth day," said head coah Paul Maurice following Thursday's skates at Bell MTS Iceplex.
"If you can skate it's going to be easier for you to do. I liked what he did with his game and also standing up for a teammate because you usually do that if you feel like you belong. That's a guy on my team, I'm going to take care of him cause we're a part of this. And that's a big step for these defencemen, they feel like they belong cause it's a big heavy game you have to play back there. You have to feel like you belong to push back on other NHLer's, I'm very pleased with where he's at. "
Poolman downplayed the moment.
"It's just one of those things that just happened," said Poolman.
"A couple of their guys were playing hard and things boiled over and it just kind of happens."
While it's nice that Poolman has some modesty over a key play in his preseason, Maurice sees it as a much more impactful decision.
"Everybody loves Tucker Poolman a little more in that room today and that matters," said Maurice.
"We don't have to avenge every clean hit but that guy got settled a little bit knowing that we would. We didn't have a lot of muscle in our lineup. Tucker is willing, the bench is up and jumping and that was pretty good by Tucker Poolman and he stepped a little closer to that locker room."