Friday, October 3, 2014

2014-15 Outlook: Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets
Head Coach: Paul Maurice (2nd Season in WPG)
Arena: MTS Centre (Capacity: 15,004)
2013-14 Record: 37-35-10 (Last in Central Division)
Record vs MIN in 2013-14: 1-3-1
2013-14 Corsi For %: 49.4% (19th in NHL)
Top Scorer: Blake Wheeler (69 Points, 2.12 P/60)
Top Goaltender: Ondrej Pavelec (22-26-7, 3.01 GAA, .901 SV%)

2013-14 Recap: After an offseason where the Jets did next to nothing to improve their roster, they did exactly what you would expect: Stay competitive for a majority of the season before losing it in the final month. The Jets finished last in the Central Division, thanks largely in part to very poor goaltending from their number one netminder, Ondrej Pavelec. On the bright side, the Jets watched youngsters Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba become mainstays in their lineup after outstanding seasons.

Possession Numbers:

Courtesy of Progressive Hockey

Player Deployment:

Courtesy of War On Ice

Offseason Additions-F Mathieu Perrault, F TJ Galiardi: When the hashtag #WhatDidChevyDoToday is rolling around Twitter all offseason, that usually is not good. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff only added two new faces to the Winnipeg lineup this summer, and only one of them is expected to have an impact for the team this year. Mathieu Perrault projects to start the year on the third line, while TJ Galiardi is a healthy scratch at the moment, but could play his way into the lineup in the preseason. No defense added, no goaltending added. Not a strong summer for additions in the Manitoba capital.

Offseason Losses-C Olli Jokinen, G Al Montoya, D Zach Redmond: Some significant players left town this summer as second line center Olli Jokinen moved on to Nashville and backup Al Montoya went to Florida. Montoya was better than Pavelec last year, despite not getting many starts. But the team will be going with prospect Michael Hutchinson as the backup, so the move makes sense. Jokinen's absence will leave Bryan Little and Mark Schiefele as the top two centers, which isn't all that bad either.

Top Prospects: Michael Hutchinson enters the season as the Jets backup goaltender. If injury, or bad play, takes Pavelec out of the lineup it will be the 24 year old goaltender in charge. He had some stellar stats (1.64 GAA and .943 save percentage) in his three starts for Winnipeg last year, after putting up a 2.30 GAA and .923 save percentage in the AHL. Nikolaj Ehlers was one of the top scorers in the 2014 Draft, and the Jets grabbed him with the number nine overall pick. He put up 104 points in the QMJHL last season, and will be returning there for the upcoming season. He is still a few seasons away from the NHL, but he will be an electric player to keep an eye on.

Projected Lines:

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik
Evander Kane-Mark Schiefele-Blake Wheeler
Carl Klingberg-Mathieu Perrault-Dustin Byfuglien
Eric Tangradi-Jim Slater-Matt Halischuk

Tobias Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy-Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec
Michael Hutchinson

(Projected lines courtesy of

Scouting Report: Up front, Winnipeg can play with anyone. Evander Kane is one of the top scorers in the league, and he now has an emerging playmaker (Schiefele) centering him. This team will be able to score. Defensively, this team is uneven. It doesn't help when your top defenseman (Byfuglien) continues to be moved back and forth between forward and defenseman. Jacob Trouba is arguably the best defenseman (if Byfuglien stays at forward) on the team, and he has just one season of NHL experience. The Achilles heel for this team will be goaltending, again. Plain and simple, Ondrej Pavelec is the worst number one goaltender in the league. He should be a backup, and yet this team is paying him $5+ million dollars a season. Yikes. The Jets need a change in goal to get anywhere this season. If they don't get one, it will be a long season.

Check back tomorrow to see where the Jets finish.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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