After reaching new heights last season, the Winnipeg Jets have much higher expectations in their 2015-2016 campaign. Winnipeg set a Thrashers/Jets franchise record with 99 points and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. To get back to the postseason, the Jets will rely heavily on the developed chemistry of the core along with an influx of young talent.
ON THE OFFENSIVE The Jets provided two quality scoring lines last season with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little scoring 24 goals on the first line and Blake Wheeler providing the spark on the second line with 26 goals. Fan favorite, Michael Frolik, signed with the Calgary Flames in the offseason but Adam Lowry will look to fill the void with his solid play. Drew Stafford, Mark Scheifele, and Mathieu Perreault will provide some secondary scoring punch.
DEFENSIVE MINDED One of the Jets strengths last season was their improved defense. Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba will anchor the back end and will now have the services of Tyler Myers for a full season. Tobias Enstrom, Ben Chiarot, and Mark Stuart round out the defensive core.
MASKED MEN Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson will backstop the Jets once again. At one point last season, Hutchinson overtook Pavelec as the starter when he went on a hot streak. By the end of the year, Pavelec regained the starting job with his excellent netminding to close out the season. Pavelec will head into this season as the starter but Hutchinson has proven to be up to the challenge if called upon in relief. Also just a phone call away is Connor Hellebuyck who had success in the AHL and in the World Championships for Team USA.
NEW FACES Michael Frolik wasn’t the only player to leave the Winnipeg Jets in the offseason as Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty both departed for the New Jersey Devils. General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will attempt to fill up the roster with some promising young talent. Highly touted rookie, Nikolaj Ehlers looks to lead the youth movement along with Andrew Copp and Nicolas Petan. Cheveldayoff also reached out to a familiar face bringing back Alexander Burmistrov from the KHL.
FILIPINO JOURNAL PREDICTION With Ladd, Little, and Wheeler leading the way along with a defense that can both shut down opponents and score, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jets improve on last season’s performance. Have your white shirts ready for the spring.
Photos by Star Roxas | Filipino Journal