NHL 15: Winnipeg Jets Guide
Written By: ImFromWinnipeg
Year in Review:
The Winnipeg Jets were moved from the Eastern to the Western conference due to realignment and this made fans question their team’s playoff hopes and dreams. The Jets were in the mix for the 8th seed in the southeast division but the post-season never came to fruition. The Central division looked more challenging, although some teams were thought to be easier to play than others. In order to battle it out in the western conference, this team needed some support.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff acquired two right wingers to help round out his depth at forward. Setoguchi was traded from the Wild for a 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft and was expected to be a sniper on the RW, finding himself in the mix for the top 6. Frolik was traded from the Blackhawks for a 3rd and 5th round pick in the 2003 draft and was brought on board to kill penalties like he did during Chicago’s run for the Cup and he was also expected to provide a scoring touch due to his versatility. Both of these players were familiar with playing in the western conference, which was looked at as a big positive when they were signed.
Antropov and Burmistrov went to play in the KHL, Miettinen went to play in Switzerland and Hainsey went to the Hurricanes. Antropov was past his prime and was occasionally booed on home ice for being lazy, Burmistrov was at odds with Noel, Miettinen was easily replaceable and Hainsey was a whipping boy so none of these players were likely to succeed in 2013-14. Certain core players were locked up during the off-season with big contracts; Little signed for 5yrs/23.5M, Wheeler signed for 6yrs/33.6M and Bogosian signed for 7yrs/36M. Chevy steered clear of the free agent market, save for some minor signings. Free agent forward Halischuk was signed to a 1yr deal worth 650K and was brought on board to help shore up the bottom 6 and maybe spend some time in the AHL. Free agent defensemen Pardy was signed to a 1yr deal worth 600K, pointing towards Hainsey’s departure from the Jets organization.
The Jets win once in the pre-season in a game against the Oilers. They lose the last game of the pre-season 5-0 against Tukka Rask and the Bruins. Oh well.
Rookies Scheifele and Trouba score in their regular season debuts, warming the hearts of Jets fans everywhere. Winnipeg snatches a couple quick wins as the season starts up as both new acquisitions Frolik and Setoguchi score game winners. All is good. The team then loses 3 straight; Bogosian gift wrapped a pass to Perry in the 3rd period on Teemu’s return to Winnipeg, Matt Cooke played well enough to earn 1st star and Dallas’s dynamic duo of Benn and Seguin accounted for a 7pt performance. Well shit. Montoya gets his first start against the winless Devils and puts up a shutout in a 3-0 victory, while Kane tallies 2 goals and a barrage of hits. Cool. Next game, the Jets get shutout by Price to end a road trip as Subban puts on a show. Trouba smashes into the boards against the Blues and injures his neck but the Jets rally and win in the shootout. Turns out Trouba would have to miss about a quarter of the season. Nononono. Kane scores again, this time in a 2nd star performance vs Nashville in a losing cause. The Jets lose to Washington in a 6 round shootout as Pavelec lets in 4 consecutive attempts in his 9th start in the first 10 games of the season. The Jets lose once more to Nashville, who are starting their backup goalie Hutton against Pavelec for the 2nd time in a few days. At least they collected a point by losing in OT. Captain Ladd scores early in the shootout and Pavelec closes the door on the Stars for his 3rd win of the season. Woohoo! The Jets then lose 3 straight games to divisional rivals in Colorado (Jets go 0-5 on the powerplay), St. Louis (Steen scores with less than a minute left in the 3rd) and Chicago (Hawks dominate Toews homecoming). 1 win in the past 7 games… fantastic.
Montoya earns a W vs the Red Wings as the Jets 3rd line puts up a strong performance. Winnipeg promptly loses again to Chicago for the 2nd time in 5 days but at least Setoguchi spoiled Crawford’s shutout. Winnipeg goes on to win the next 4 games; the Jets score 3 goals off 8 shots in ~8 mins vs Hutton and the Predators, Ladd ties the game up 4-4 vs the Sharks with less than 2 mins left in the 3rd and scores the winner in the shootout, Ladd follows up with another game winner in the shootout vs the Red Wings and the Jets cap off another win with a shootout victory vs the Flyers. 4 straight wins for Pavelec! The Jets then proceed to lose 4 games in a row; Harding improves to 10-0 on home ice, Ladd scores in the shootout against Calgary but the Jets lose in the 8th round, Toews tallies 4 pts for Chicago and Winnipeg loses again to the Wild in a shootout in a game where Harding got hurt in warm-ups and Backstrom had to step in. Scheifele scores his first goal in 25 games to help the Jets win against Brodeur and the Devils. Montoya starts against his former team and earns a win vs the slumping Islanders. The Jets shot the puck on net only twice in the 1st period against Steve Mason in his 2nd start of the season for the Flyers and lost after going 0 for 6 on the powerplay. Wheeler doesn’t score throughout the entire month of November. Next game, he finally pots home an empty netter as the Jets move over the .500 mark by beating the Rangers and backup goalie Cam Talbot. Olli Jokinen turns back the clock for 2 goals and an assist and IceCaps call-up John Albert scores on his first NHL goal on his 1st shot.
Next game, Tim Thomas earns a win as the Jets lose by playing without both Kane and Frolik in the lineup while Pav puts up a stinker. Montoya starts against the Lightning and plays very well while Schiefele tapped in the game winner in OT off a nice feed from Wheeler. The Jets and Pavelec would go on to lose 3 straight. The 30th ranked powerplay finally ends their 0-18 slump as the Jets would score once on the man advantage against Elliot and the Blues but they would lose another game to their divisional rival. Colorado rallies to erase a 2 goal deficit on the road and scores twice as Varlamov shuts the door in the shootout. Peluso inexplicably drills Goliogoski from behind and earns himself a game misconduct and the Stars capitalize twice on the ensuing major penalty while Pav is pulled in favour of Montoya. Kane returns from a 6 game lower-body injury and lifts the Jets to a win vs the Jackets. After scoring 1 goal in 7 of their past 12 games, the Sabres net 4 to win in a comeback victory with a game winner from Moulson and a nice game from Miller. The Jets play the Panthers and finally win a game on home ice, snapping a 6 game losing skid in their first regular win at the MTS Center in over a month. Lack wins one in relief for an injured Luongo as the Canucks secure a victory on their 4th game in 6 nights. The Oilers snap a 6 game losing streak with Bryz in net by scoring 6 goals on Pavelec and equaling their offensive output for said losing streak. Pavelec starts the next game vs the Wild and lets in 3 goals on 6 shots, earning himself a spot on the bench as Montoya helps the Jets secure a rare divisional win with key contributions from Wheeler (2g) and Trouba (+4). Montoya earns another win and Wheeler scores another game winner as the Jets win another divisional matchup, this time in the final seconds of OT versus the Avs. Montoya earns his 6th win in a row, this time in a shootout performance vs the Sabres.
Winnipeg then proceeds to lose the next 5 games. The Senators don’t allow a penalty vs the Jets as Montoya’s winning streak comes to a close. The Jets outshoot the Bruins but Tukka proves to be too much and rookie D-man Krug scores twice on Pav and notches an assist. Malkin scores twice in his first game back from injury as the Jets fail to hold onto an early lead vs the Pens. The Jets play one of their worst games of the season vs the Lightning; Lindback only faced 14 shots, Pav was pressured all game long and Evander punched Brewer’s helmet with 20 seconds remaining in a meaningless scuffle, causing a deep cut on his hand and effectively placing him on the injury reserve. Jets called up Klingberg from the farm for winger depth. GM Chevy contacts Paul Maurice to gauge interest in the head coaching position. Noel juggles the lineup (ex. Big Buff as a forward) looking for answers vs the Blue Jackets but Winnipeg allows 4 goals in less than 10 mins to start the 2nd period as Pavelec collects another loss at the MTS Center and fans booed the team off the ice. At the time of Noels firing, the Jets were 10pts back of the final playoff spot in the West. Chevy and Maurice reach a verbal agreement on a coaching contract for the rest of the season.
The Jets shock the league and win 4 games in a row with Pavelec starting. Maurice’s debut goes smoothly as Winnipeg wins 5-1 at home and allows the Coyotes 12 shots on net after the 1st and only 19 for the game, a season-low. The Jets continue their honeymoon against the Flames and score 5 on Berra. Winnipeg peppers Bryz with shots, keeping the Oilers away from Pavelec and Trouba scores twice against Edmonton, including the game winner in OT. The Ducks were the only team remaining in the NHL without a regulation loss at home (20-0-2) until they played the “undefeated” Jets. Winnipeg lost a close one to the Sharks but Maurice praised his team’s defensive play and willingness to listen. The Jets won their 5th in 6 games in a matchup vs the Leafs after blowing a 4-1 lead and sealing the deal with a Big Buff wrister in OT. Winnipeg pulls off a victory vs the Blackhawks as Montoya shined in his hometown for his first start in 8 games. Thorburn scored his 1st of the year while filling Kane’s spot on the 2nd line but Hutton won another start for Nashville. The Jets went on to win another 3 straight, putting themselves in the mix for the playoffs! Setoguchi scored twice on Eddie Lack, earning himself a 1st star. I must be taking crazy pills! Montoya starts vs Montreal and Frolik scored a game winner against Price, notching another win for Winnipeg. After allowing 24 goals in the final five games under Noel, the Jets allowed only 21 goals in 10 games under Maurice. Thorburn’s experiment on the 2nd line proved successful as he scored the game winner against the Canes off a slick wraparound pass from Trouba with a minute remaining in regulation. Suck it Hainsey. Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the season as Washington scores 3 in the 3rd to win. The Blues take 1st spot in the central division as Oshie scores the game winner in the shootout on Montoya. Playing for the Czech Republic, Pavelec didn’t dress for his team’s 1st game vs Sweden and he allowed 4 goals in a quarterfinal loss to the US before being pulled. Wheeler almost played 2 minutes vs team Canada during the semi-finals, Frolik had 7 shots on net in 5 games and Olli Jokinen won a bronze medal with team Finland. The Jets returned from the Sochi break and beat the Coyotes in a shootout, staying in the hunt for the playoffs. Pavelec recorded his 2nd straight victory in a 39 save, 1st star performance vs the Preds. The Jets played the Tavares-less Islanders and Scheifele suffered a sprained MCL in an OT loss. Winnipeg would lose another 5 games in a row and collect 2/10 possible points. Once Scheifele went down, the Jets playoff hopes took a huge hit. Chevy decided against making a move at the trade deadline. Next game, the Kings were finally hitting their stride and held the Jets to 4 shots in the 3rd period. Ottawa’s newly acquired Hemsky torched the Jets with 3 assists and Spezza accomplished the same as Pavelec was pulled after letting in 5 goals on 20 shots (Montoya saved 12/12). Big Buff’s 2 goals in the 2nd wasn’t enough as Duchene scored an OT winner. Burrows, a notoriously snakebitten forward on the Canucks, scored his 1st and 2nd goals of the season as Vancouver rallied to win one in the shootout. Hagelin scored his 1st career hat trick to help Lundquist and the Rangers win at the MTS Centre. The Jets finally ended their 6 game losing streak by bulldozing Dallas in a 7-2 destruction derby as Montoya stood tall and Wheeler puts up 4 assists. Could the Jets still make a run for the final wildcard spot? Well, Ryan Miller and the Blues reached the 100-point plateau with 2 goals from Backes in the 3rd and all hell broke loose on the ice. Winnipeg follows up a frustrating loss with an exciting OT goal from Wheeler on home ice vs the Avs. Pavelec sat out his 4th consecutive game with a lower-body injury while Cam Ward started for Carolina and enjoyed success as the game’s 1st star. The Jets allowed 2 powerplay goals against Dallas, even though the Stars’ powerplay was 1/15 over the past 5 games. Shit. Keeping the dream alive, Wheeler tallied 3 points and recorded a team-high amount of hits while Enstrom scored the winner on the powerplay late in the 3rd to stun the Sharks. Pavelec was pulled against the Kings as the Jets lost for the 5th time in 8 games. Anaheim rallied from being down 4 goals and Robidas scored 16 seconds into OT as the Ducks staged the biggest comeback in team history. I need a drink. Winnipeg bounced back as Ladd scored the Jets’ only goal in regulation and scored the deciding goal in a shootout vs Phoenix. That’s my captain! At 34-34-10, the Jets were officially eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to the Pens. Winnipeg did their best to spoil Toronto’s playoff hopes by outshooting them 41-25 and winning in regulation at the MTS Centre, which prevented the Leafs from closing in on the 2nd wild-card spot in the East. Hutchinson, who started the season in the ECHL, started his 1st NHL game of the season in a contest vs the Wild where Winnipeg played without Laddy and the Jets were shutout for the 2nd time this season. Hutch would win the final 2 games of the season by beating the Bruins in a shootout at the MTS Centre and spoiling the Flames home finale with a game winner from Postma for his 1st goal of the season. The Winnipeg Jets end the 2013-14 with a record of 37-35-10 and a total of 84pts, good for last in the Central division and 11th in the Western conference.
So what now? We didn’t even suck enough to win big at the draft lotto. Cheveldayoff traded away our 2nd round pick for Setoguchi so we have to make our 1st round selection really count and restock our prospect pool.
The Winnipeg Jets selected Nikolaj Ehlers from the QMJHL with the 9th overall pick. The “Dazzling Dane” is unlikely to crack the NHL roster in the fall but his future ceiling is very high. Weighing 165lbs, Ehlers will have to bulk up to compete at the NHL level. Ehlers has a fine combination of tools at his disposal – high octane speed, playmaking ability and shooting skill. He scored 104 points (49G, 55A) for the Halifax Mooseheads in 63 games last season. He’s automatically the best offensive prospect in the Jets system. Time will tell if his game translates well from the Q to the NHL and Chevy won’t rush him into anything unprepared.
Highlights from the 2013-2014 Season:
Why the Winnipeg Jets Will Win the Stanley Cup This Year:
Keeping in mind that GM Kevin Chevaldeyoff has yet to make a player for player trade, let’s skip fantasy blockbuster trades and assume that we’ll be starting the season with our current roster. Maybe we trade a player like Kane for a decent return, maybe we hold onto him moving forward. For now, let’s drop acid, look on the bright side and get down to business.
Yes, the Winnipeg Jets need significant improvements across the board to secure a spot in the post-season but we’re dealing with a ton of untapped potential within this squad. For starters, Paul Maurice will be head coach for training camp and will look to build upon his team’s play from 2013-14. If the Jets are to bring the Cup to Winnipeg next year, Maurice will have to master his craft and keep his players on board for the longest season in franchise history. He will have to respond to his players, juggle lines according to injuries/matchups, ensure that his players continue to buy into his systems and bring out the best of his bench.
Last years rookies are going to look to build upon their early successes and avoid sophomore slumps. Scheifele will have to return from his season ending injury to his MCL and play better than ever before. For the Jets to win it all, Scheifs will need to skate circles around top notch competition and play a solid 2-way game, maybe on the 1st line alongside Kane and Wheeler. Trouba would have to protect his neck and stay on track to becoming a future franchise D-man.
Evander cannot afford to get injured on this quest for the Cup. If he’s healthy, he’s good for 30+ goals in 82 games and will bring a physical game to the table. Championship Kane will be coming into training camp with a chip on his shoulder and will be motivated to prove his doubters wrong. Wheeler will have to solidify himself as a one of the best wingers in the league and round out what could be a very pesky 1st line with his extreme speed and scoring touch.
Ladd plays like a man possessed for 82 games of the regular season and leads the Jets to the playoffs with timely game winners and elite numbers in the shootout. Little keeps up his chemistry with captain Laddy and provides a boost to secondary scoring by lighting the lamp on a more consistent basis. Frolik continues to kill penalties at a high clip and sees some minutes on the 2nd line due to his versatility and skill. Big Buff shows up to training camp in shape and ready to rumble, mostly seeing 3rd line minutes as a forward and top pairing minutes on the powerplay as a D-man. In addition, Byfuglien would play like a superstar in 4-on-4 situations. Perrault gels immediately with the rest of the roster and fills Jokinen’s vacated 3C slot with ease by winning a majority of his faceoffs, taking less penalties and contributing points at a steady rate.
The rest of the bottom 6 will have to push the envelope and find new inventive ways to help win games. Galiardi will have to continue his trend of drawing penalties at a high rate in order to put the Jets on the powerplay. Halishuk would be deployed to hustle for loose pucks. Peluso would have to fight for every minute of ice time. Thorburn’s nose would cause havoc in the crease. Slater would be leaned on heavily for defensive zone draws. O’Dell could be called up from the IceCaps as a center and use his takeaway skills to create opportunities. Tangradi would be told to plant himself in the slot and set screens on goalies in order to generate rebounds and scoring chances.
Enstrom would have to use his size to his advantage by playing positionally sound and raise his rep to that of a premier puck mover. Bogosian needs to play a full season and live up to his projected potential of a 3rd overall pick in 2008 and fat 7yr contract. Clitsome’s back needs to heal so he can step into the lineup sometimes to relieve a banged up teammate. Pardy would play like a bully on the bottom pairing by bashing his opposition in the corners and making them pay tax in the slot. Ellerby would likely find himself on that 3rd line, playing on edge and leaving opponents with little room to operate in the offensive zone. Stuart plays stellar shutdown D and relieves pressure off the goalies by winning many battles and stifling offenses.
Pavelec plays ~60 games and proves to be the real deal against tough teams or he shits the bed while Hutchinson follows up his success in the AHL last season by impressing the coaching staff early on and sparking a battle for the starting gig in net. Both goalies elevate their games and they make for a formidable tandem in net during the regular season.
Once the playoffs roll around, this team will need to be firing on all cylinders in order to reach the finals and win the Stanley Cup. The Jets sneak into a 7th or 8th seed in the western conference and capture the hearts of those that love underdogs. The Jets internalize the passion of the fans and this fuels a hard fought deep run for the finals. Elsewhere, the Central division arms race backfires and blows up in the faces of GMs as their new acquisitions struggle to produce during the playoffs. Winnipeg wins their 1st playoff game at the MTS Center and the whiteout proves to be an intimidating atmosphere. The Jets suffer losses here and there but take them on the chin and work hard to regain momentum. Maurice opts to move forward with a definitive #1 starting goalie after the quarterfinals and Winnipeg keeps shocking the hockey world until they win it all. Ladd takes the Cup from Bettman and gives it to Hutchinson, your 2014-15 finals MVP. Winnipig is released onto the ice and celebrates with the team. The Jets have won the Stanley Cup.
Why the Winnipeg Jets Won’t Win the Stanley Cup This Year:
The Jets are simply outgunned in the western conference. Chevy goes into the regular season with mostly the same squad as last year and the losses start adding up fast once players collectively fail to live up to expectations. The Jets youth sputter out of the gate and are all plagued by injuries. Evander punches another helmet and requests a trade while Thorburn moves up to the 2nd line. Trouba kisses the boards once more at the MTS Centre and Chevy starts working the waiver wire for depth. Scheifele’s season ends early due to another knee on knee and the Jets start looking towards the IceCaps for help. With O’Dell already filling in for the often injured Slater, the Jets are forced to promote him to 3rd line duties in order to free up a spot for Cormier to serve on the 4th. First game with the big club, Cormier cheapshots someone and gets suspended indefinitely. As an act of desperation, the Jets front office takes Jaffray from the IceCaps and places him into the lineup for his leadership skills. The 4C position eventually gets plugged with Lowry, stunting his development. With Scheifele out, Perrault is promoted to the top 6 and plays poorly alongside an obese Big Buff and Thorburn. To shake things up, Big Buff is brought back to defense and Enstrom is converted to a winger. Big Buff’s +/- takes a nosedive while Enstrom shows lots of promise at his new position, until he’s reported out indefinitely with a broken collar bone caused by a routine hit in the corner. Maurice loses the locker room by January, causing Chevaldeyoff to ask Noel to serve as coach in the interim. Ladd strips himself of the captaincy and sarcastically awards it to Jaffray. Peluso throws once punch the entire season, shattering the bones in his fist on the ice. Galiardi plays like a fringe NHLer and finds himself as a healthy scratch by halfway through the season. Tangradi does nothing to earn himself a contract and plays 82 games as punishment. Halishuk’s poor play makes the Jet brass wonder why they signed him to another contract after letting him walk as an UFA. Frolik tries his hardest in order to impress other GMs around the league, reminding himself daily that he’s a champion. Noel reverts back to the days of Ladd-Little-Wheeler but there is no longer any lingering line chemistry. Stuart goes to battle for the entire season, seemingly unaware of his troubled teammates. Bogosian’s stats regress and his contract becomes one of the most bloated in the league. Pardy chews out Claude in practice and gets buried in the minors the next day. Clitsome’s back is nearly broken but Noel is forced to play him on the 2nd D pairing out of necessity for most of the season because none of Chevy’s waiver wire pickups want to come to Winnipeg. Ellerby gets into an argument during the intermission of a game in the locker room with assistant coach Charlie Huddy and both of them start duking it out at center ice in front of 15k horrified fans at the MTS Centre. Huddy wins the fight and Claude rewards him with a spot on the roster and some time on the powerplay. The Jets stand pat at the trade deadline or trade away assets in a fire sale. After the dust has settled, Pavelec stays healthy and starts 75 games because Hutchinson isn’t ready for the NHL. However, Pav’s stats indicate that he is once again the worst starting goalie in the league. The Central does indeed turn out to be stacked and the Jets finish dead last in their division for another season.