The Winnipeg Jets had one of their most successful seasons in quite sometime. With the leadership of Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien, the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck and the production from Patrik Laine, and superstar Mark Schefiele the Jets have all the tools to yet again make a deep playoff run but this time with a different outcome.
Jets ready for a deeper playoff run with core intact…
Last season the Jets finished 2nd in the NHL(114 points) and 2nd in the Central division. The last time the Jets had a 100 point season, was never. Well since they have been the Winnipeg Jets, during their short time as the Atlanta Thrashers they finished with 90 plus points two times and finished within the top three, three times. The closest the Jets came was in 2014-15 when they finished with 99 points and 5th in the division. As they have established themselves as a top contender now the Jets have their sights set on an a big prize for the 2018-2019 season.
Their line up will consist of relatively the same guys, minus Paul Statsny in the middle on the second line. The first line will be the same with Kyle Connor on the left side, Scheifele in the middle and Wheeler on the right. Second line will be Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little in the middle and Laine on the right side. With a top six like that there is no need to even go into much further detail of what their offense will look like. A majority of the production will come from those six guys but some key guys to note in the their bottom six.
Jets bottom six ready to make an impact?
Nic Petan, with Statsny gone, Petan moves up in the line up and gets his shot at some big league time. The 23-year-old 2nd round pick will finally get his chance for a full time job. Petan has bounced around a little only playing in 95 NHL games with the Jets. Next on the list is, Jack Roslovic. Roslovic had a solid 31 games last year, when he was called upon he did his job which has earned him a top 9 role as of now. Roslovic the Jets 2015 1st rounder, scored 5 goals and tallied 9 assists in 31 games last season. Look for this guy to climb his way up the roster next season. Lastly, Mark Dano the Blue Jackets 2013 1st round pick has yet to really establish himself as a NHL player yet, as he has played in only 130 games collecting 45 points. This is Dano’s chance to make a name for himself before it is too late.
Jets defensive core needs more production from other guys…
The Jets d-core remains in tact as they did sign Jacob Trouba to a massive 1-year, 5.5 million dollar deal. With Dustin Byfuglien, Trouba, Myers, Josh Morrisey, Ben Chariot and Dimitry Kulikov the Jets have some solid depth to their backend. The big issue with Winnipeg is having these guys healthy, we have seen Trouba and Myers deal with their fair share of missed time, Kulikov did not play until the playoffs so right there that is an issue for the Jets. The good thing is they have depth as I said, with Joe Marrow and Tucker Poolman able to fill in as a 6, 7 defenseman. The Jets always see a monstrous year from Byfuglien but now it is getting Trouba and Myers to that next level. Rookie defenseman Josh Morrisey had a productive first year with 26 points in 81 games let’s hope they can sign him back and the sophomore slump does not haunt Morrisey. As well the Jets saw an incredible year from Connor Hellebuyck as he shattered many USA goalie records and emerged as the number one guy earning himself a nice 6.1 million for the next five years. With the emergence of Hellebuyck, the Jets need for other guys beside Byfuglien to produce a bit more, and consistently that is.
Maybe too early? But the Jets finished with 114 points last year and just 3 points behind Nashville for the NHL and division lead. With their team mainly staying in tact, Laine getting more exposure at the NHL level and Schefiele really emerging as a superstar the Jets are bound for a repeat 100 point season. With Nashville not doing much besides adding more defensive depth the Jets rank up nicely to the Predators and other competing divisional teams. With St. Louis adding a ton of offensive depth, but losing their back up goaltender the Jets should be fine. With a very tough Central division the Jets have a lot of teams on their tail, plus finishing second in the NHL they have a target on their back as well now. I’d expect a Central division win out of Winnipeg and a 115 point season.