The Blue Jackets faced a tough challenge on Tuesday night, taking a roster mostly pieced together with depth and AHL players into Toronto for a matchup against the Leafs, who boast one of the league’s most potent offenses. In a game they had no business keeping close, the Jackets had a chance to win on the back of first time starter Jet Greaves.
The organization did right by the 22 year old netminder, giving him a chance to start against his childhood favorite team. Jet hails from Cambridge, Ontario; a little more than an hour from downtown Toronto. He earned the chance to play in front of friends and family by doing everything the Jackets have asked of him since signing him last year.
He’s been a workhorse in the AHL, consistently showing up to the rink and serving as either the starter for the Cleveland Monsters, or quietly doing his job as a backup on any given night. He’s made the trip down I-71 to back up for the Blue Jackets on a few occasions – and even took a stint in the ECHL with no complaints.
As an undrafted free agent, Jet has certainly not been given the easy path to the NHL. He’s undersized in comparison to the standards typically set for NHL goaltenders, standing just 6’0″; weighing around 185 pounds. But his work ethic and likeability, combined with his athleticism and surprisingly calm demeanor in goal, earned him this chance. And he took full advantage.
Jet was fantastic for the Blue Jackets last night, making 46 saves – including several of the acrobatic variety; but maybe more importantly, he made the game look … easy, at times. His positioning was sound and he did a nice job of just keeping the game in check, which is something the Jackets have needed all season long.
In fact, I was completely surprised by his performance overall. I didn’t expect him to get shelled and give up 10 goals – but he played well above my expectations and gave this team a chance to win a game in a harsh environment. Though he was just sent back down to Cleveland, one has to believe that his play last night has given some pause to the future plans for this organization. I think we’ll see Jet back in the NHL at some point in the near-ish future, and I think he can stick around as a long-term backup.
Obviously, getting reps is more important right now, but if he continues to outplay Daniil Tarasov at the AHL level, I would argue that he deserves the opportunity to play more games in the NHL. In an organization loaded with talent, he’s proving to be the plucky workhorse we all want to see. Maybe it was just a one-off performance. Maybe beginner’s luck? Whatever it was, he’s earned a deeper look with the Blue Jackets.