Last years’ record: 40-35-7, 9th in the Western Conference
Key additions: Steve Mason, Dmitry Kulikov
Key losses: None
Outlook: We’ve reached the end of our 31 in 31 journey with the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets have a real shot to make some noise this season. Thanks to quality drafting and some timely signings, the Jets could be competing for a playoff spot come March.
The Jets missed the playoffs last season by a mere seven points. This season they’ve got some more experience and leadership, especially from guys like Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele. This should be enough to propel them to the next level.
It seemed like the Jets were on the brink of something special last season, but due to inconsistent goal-tending they couldn’t pull it together. With the acquisition of Steve Mason and the maturation of Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets situation in-goal shouldn’t be the problem this time around.
In addition to there goal-tending, the Jets have a strong group of forwards. Led by the aforementioned Laine and Scheifele the Jets top six will be lethal. Add a bottom six that can contribute and hold their own against tough competition and you’ve got a pretty solid group of forwards. The Jets have the forward depth to compete with any team in the league.
On defense Winnipeg added Dmitry Kulikov and saw Josh Morrissey take great strides in his game last season. Kulikov struggled in Buffalo last season, but what defensemen didn’t. At the least, Kulikov should provide a reliable bottom pairing guy. The Jets decided against trading Trouba and Myers this off-season, a decision that I believe will be quite rewarding. Add in Byfuglien and Enstrom and the Jets have a deep blue-line as well.
Winnipeg is an all around strong team and I happen to believe that Hellebuyck struggles last season were just a fluke. If he does struggle again this season, hopefully Steve Mason can shoulder the majority of starts. If the Jets can get good, consistent goal-tending, there’s a good chance playoff hockey will be returning to Winnipeg.