After finishing a disappointing last in the Central Division last season, the Winnipeg Jets will be looking to improve in the standings and push for their first playoff berth since moving from Atlanta. With their Central Division rivals all improving on paper in the off-season, the Jets will be counting on some of their fresh new faces to give them the secondary scoring they have been lacking.
After taking over behind the bench midway through last season, Paul Maurice gets a fresh start to see if his team is the energized group that won 9 out of his first 11 games as coach or the team that finished with a below .500 record in their final 21 games.
The off-season was relatively calm in comparison to the rest of the division. Gone are the likes of Olli Jokinen, Devin Setogutchi, and Al Montoya. The Jets added some depth at centre signing Mathieu Perreault and T.J. Galiardi. Perreault registered 18 goals and 25 assists as a member of the Anaheim Ducks while Gailiardi scored 4 goals and added 13 assists with the Calgary Flames.
With the emergence of Mark Scheifele as an offensive threat and the smooth puck handling of defenseman Jaccob Trouba, a few rookies will look to make the same impact this year. Nikolaj Ehlers, the Danish born first round pick of the Jets in last year’s draft will try to use his flash and dash to make the squad. Josh Morrissey will try to copy Trouba’s success who will give the Jets another smooth skating defenseman with great ice vision. If given the opportunity, Nicolas Petan will try to over his success in the WHL where he amassed 113 points in just 63 games.
Once again, the Jets faithful are expecting the familiar faces of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, and Evander Kane to carry the load. Ondrej Pavelec will shoulder the load between the pipes but the success of Michael Hutchinson last year will have him looking in the rear view mirror.
The Winnipeg Jets have proven to be a competitive team in the past three seasons but want to give their die hard fans some playoff hockey. With their division rivals all gearing up for playoff pushes, the Jets might be on the outside looking in once again. However, the Jets continue to stockpile prospects and draft well which bodes well for a dynamic team for future years.
Prediction: 7th in the Central Division. 12th in the Western Conference.
Photos by Star Roxas | Filipino Journal