Jason Jaffray, 30, LW, 6’1, 195 lbs
Last Year's Rating: N/A This Year's Rating: #22 Difference: N/A
Jason Jaffray has been defined throughout his professional career as a minor leaguer, never being able to reach the next step to play full time in the NHL. Much of that has to do with the situation he was in with the Vancouver Canucks - a team that had tremendous depth and thus Jaffray was always on the outside looking in.
With the Jets, however, Jaffray has a new lease on his professional career life, as it were. Known in Winnipeg from his days of playing for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose from 2004-05 until this last season, Jaffray has been defined as the prototypical Moose forward during his time in Winnipeg.
He scored perhaps the biggest goal (or goals) in Moose history - the game winning goal in Game 2 of the 2009 Calder Cup Finals against Michael Neuvrith and the Hershey Bears. Jaffray’s hat trick in that game lifted the Moose to a 3-1 win in that game.
Now, Jaffray will have to earn his spot in the Winnipeg locker room. Instead of the MTS Centre being a place to come back to after a trip to the NHL, it has become a place where Jaffray has to work to stay in the big league or else head out to the east coast to play with the AHL affiliate St. John’s Ice Caps.
Before he was known for his clutch play with the Moose, Jaffray spent five seasons in the WHL with the Edmonton/Kootenay Ice and Swift Current Broncos. His best season in junior came in his final season split between Kootenay and Swift Current, where collected 83 in 73 games.
It would be a slow climb to the big leagues for Jaffray out of junior as he opened the 2002-03 season with the Roanoke Express of the East Coast Hockey League, collecting 85 points in 64 games, enough to prompt a two game AHL call-up with the Norfolk Admirals.
In 2003-04, Jaffray again found himself in the ECHL, putting up 74 points in 54 games with the Wheeling Nailers, as well as seeing five games of AHL action with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
It was 2004-05 that would be Jaffray’s big break. He began the season once again with the Nailers before being called up to play with the Cleveland Barons. He had 16 points in 30 games with the Barons before being dealt to the Moose. In 14 games to end the season, Jaffray notched 8 points.
He started the 2005-06 season for the first time in the AHL with the Moose and did not disappoint, collecting 47 points in 73 games, along with seven points in 13 playoff games.
Jaffray would score a career high with 81 points the next season, including 13 points in 13 playoff games.
He would get his first taste of NHL action in 2007-08 with the Vancouver Canucks, playing in 19 games and collecting six points, 19 penalty minutes, and a plus four rating.
In 2008-09, Jaffray was a force for the Moose as they went to the Calder Cup Finals, with Jaffray scoring 19 points in 22 playoff games. However, the Moose lost in six games to the Hershey Bears.
In 2009-10, Jaffray signed with the Calgary Flames and played the majority of the season in Abbotsford, scoring 54 points in 72 games.
Last season, dogged by injury, Jaffray was loaned to the Moose from the Flames and posted two points in six regular season games and nine points in 14 playoff games.
Jaffray’s return to Winnipeg, this time with an NHL team, shows his commitment to the city and its fans. His history with the fans and the city will give him an edge that many players coming into camp do not have at all, besides former teammate Rick Rypien. If Jaffray is to make the Jets lineup, he will have to be a third line winger, but his ability to work hard and make plays happen is never lost on the minds of Moose fans.