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It’s Winnipeg Jets Day on PHT

Aug 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler AP

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Winnipeg Jets.

Ahh, the Jets.

It’s been three seasons since they’ve moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg and each of them has ended without a playoff appearance. As the lack of success rolls on, the frustration with the organization is growing in Manitoba. After all, the excitement of having the NHL return to the city has calmed down but the team is treading water.

Their first season in the Western Conference saw the Jets finish with 84 points going 37-35-10 and finishing last in the Central Division and 11th in the West. Their disappointing play cost Claude Noel his job as head coach after going 19-23-5 under him and resulted in Paul Maurice taking over and doing  a bit better going 18-12-5. Of course, it wasn’t all hunky-dory for Maurice either.

Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little had solid seasons leading the team in scoring, but Maurice had his issues with star forward Evander Kane and kept former defenseman Dustin Byfuglien at forward, a move Noel made in an effort to keep his job.

Despite changing positions, Byfuglien still had 20 goals and 56 points. Kane slumped all season though and finished with 19 goals and 41 points. Captain Andrew Ladd was a bright spot as well with 23 goals and 54 points. Mark Scheifele did well in his first full season in the NHL with 13 goals and 34 points in 63 games. Olli Jokinen had a solid season, but will play in Nashville next season.

While the offense was encouraging, goaltending was a major sore spot.

Ondrej Pavelec struggled all season and finished with a .901 save percentage and a goals-against average of 3.01. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has already declared him his No. 1 goalie next season and he could benefit next season from a defensive corps that gains another year together and has a lot of upside.

Rookie Jacob Trouba had an impressive first season in Winnipeg even in spite of suffering a scary injury. If Zach Bogosian can avoid the injury bug, those two along with Tobias Enstrom can team up with Mark Stuart and a hopefully recovered from back surgery Grant Clitsome to make up a solid group on the blue line.

If they keep it together, it’ll put the onus on Pavelec to play to the best of his ability – something he’s struggled to do in Winnipeg after having success in Atlanta.

Offseason recap

While the rest of the Central Division underwent an arms race to commence beating each other’s heads in all season, the Jets essentially stayed out of the fray.

They replaced Olli Jokinen with Mathieu Perreault from the Anaheim Ducks, re-signed Michael Frolik to avoid arbitration, and added T.J. Galiardi. They also re-signed Chris Thorburn to a three-year, $3.6 million contract which was… odd.

The Jets also parted ways with Al Montoya (who signed with Florida) and will go with Michael Hutchinson as the backup goalie to/guy to potentially unseat Pavelec.

The highlight of the Jets’ summer may have come at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia when they selected Halifax winger Nikolaj Ehlers with the ninth overall pick.

  1. lakeshoreleafsfan - Aug 2, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Not that I should talk (being a Leafs fan) but from somebody who wants to see as many Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs as possible (except for the arrogant Montreal Canadiens) and from somebody outside looking in, I can say it might be time to let your GM Kevin Cheveldayoff go and start anew

  2. bcsteele - Aug 2, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Ahh the Jets…

    I feel bad for this team. They have issues and their GM either failed to do anything or simply couldn’t really do anything to improve them this off season. They are missing several pieces and should consider blowing it all up IMO.

    When you look at the moves the rest of the Central division made (see: St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, and Minn.) and them basically holding pat I just don’t see a way their season ends any differently than last year.

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      I have been surprised that the Jets have been very quiet since the draft.
      I dont see them doing much better than last year as in our division it is going to be really hard to make the playoffs and I live in Minn and I just cringe at what the Wild will have to do to win games…..ouch
      This is the hardest division to win in in the league… but its great hockey

      • jaythehelmetguy - Aug 3, 2014 at 1:18 AM

        The Pacific Division would like to have a word with you

  3. pavelfitzgerald - Aug 2, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    It is very frustrating to read some of these comments.
    Unlike Toronto, a lot of FA’s simply don’t want to come to Winnipeg. I guess this can be a blessing in disguise as we aren’t able to sign FA busts like Clarkson, although I gather the Jets weren’t interested.
    The Jets will need to build thru the draft which is not the sexiest way to build a team but an inevitable position. If you look at what Chevy has done in the draft there is no cause for concern. Trouba is a atud, Scheifele has loads of potential & almost averaged a point per game in his last 30 or so games. Kids like Morrissey, Lowry, Kosmachuk are only a year away from making the jump. Connor Hellybuck was the best goalie in NCAA last year & Ehdlers has huge goal scoring potential. Hopefully management gives Chevy another 2 years to see his drafting come to fruition

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      We who live in Minn have gone thru the same thing the fans in Winnipeg are going thru, no one wanted to come here to play for the Wild… It was a wasted 9 years of nothing, not that the players didnt do the best they could, they just were not top notch talent
      It was very sad for the Wild and it has been almost 10 years in rebuilding so it will happen Winneipeg Jets fans
      I consider the Jets our rivaly as Winnepeg is only 492 miles from Mpls and at our games the arena is filled with about a fourth of Jets fans…who are really fun to talk to and see how they dress up for thier Jets
      I dont consider the Hawks or the Blues or the Stars our rivaly
      no way it is Winnipeg
      i hope the Jets can get better this year and keep your heads up it will happen

      • wutangwild - Aug 3, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        Spot on. Went to a Wild-Jets game at the X two years ago and the Winnipeg fans near us were great. Unlike the Nucks and NoDak fans other times haha

  4. rainyday56 - Aug 2, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The most important stat for this franchise is the $CDN. If it drops below 0.90 US, Seattle Jets rumors will become a daily occurrence.

    • pavelfitzgerald - Aug 2, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      How so?

      You realize in the 3 years the Jets have been in Winnipeg they’ve made soo much money that they have not qualified for revenue sharing? Meaning there is roughly 12-20 teams making less money a year than the Jets have?

      Whereas a team like Phoenix has lost money EVERY YEAR that they have been in Phoenix? Or that Florida continues to lose money year after year? Winnipeg would make less money if the dollar dropped but they would be fine. That’s what happens when you have the 5th highest average ticket prices in the league

      • rmccleary97 - Aug 2, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        One important thing a lot of people fail to understand about revenue sharing: even if you put the 30 teams in the locations where you think revenue is maximized (which BTW may not maximize profits to the owners), those on the lower end are still going to be “below average” and qualify for revenue sharing. It’s how the system is set up. Criticizing [insert favorite target] for getting revenue sharing ignores how the system works.

        On Phoenix and Florida: one of those markets has had long-term ownership issues and an aborted attack by a certain former co-CEO that had the effect of chasing off the fan base; the other has had a nearly continuous 14-year run of losing. Winning in both places (and no, I don’t mean once in a handful of years) would go a long way toward fixing problems in both places.

        On Winnipeg and RS: even the owners admit that the long-term plan is “make as much money as we can off tickets, fill in the gap with revenue sharing.” They expect to have to get subsidized at some point. Having the 5th highest average ticket prices in the league is more a function of (a) low supply (only 15,000 seats, ignoring comps) and (b) the initial requirement of season ticket holders to commit to buying tickets for 5 years. The real question is how ticket prices respond to demand starting in 2016-17, when that 5-year commitment is over; if demand doesn’t justify the 5th highest ticket prices, we could see the Jets start getting revenue sharing pretty quickly.

      • rsmaggiemae - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        you forgot to mention the Fla Panthers who had to borrow around 70-80 mil to keep the team afloat over the last year
        I just dont see hockey in Fla at all

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Moving the Jets makes no sense, nand they stand a decent chance of making it. And I don’t buy the ownership issue regarding Phoenix. That was resolved and they still were 30th in attendance, down from previous years.

      Don’t know if Hockey will ever succeed in the desert, but moving to Glendale was, I’ll be charitable, “unwise”. Scottsdale? Mesa? Perhaps. The problem is due to contractual committments, we have to wait 4 more years for the inevitable.

      Regarding Florida, new management, positive offseason moves, they MAY turn it around. I would not hold out any hope for Phoenix. Concerning the relative metro area sizes, Nashville has profoundly more fan support than Phoenix.

  5. boltman23 - Aug 2, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    The Jets don’t need to be on the Toronto plan. When the moved to WPG the prospect shelves were empty. In three years they have done a fantastic job of stocking the shelves and will see the rewards in the coming couple of years. As for Kane he was injured much of the year and struggled because of it. As for goalies it is something to worry about but what options were out there to sign? I think the team is better but unfortunately the move to the west wasn’t helping the playoff goal.

  6. scrouch - Aug 2, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    There shouldn’t be much expectation to see big improvements through off-season moves in Winnipeg at this point but overall they’re in good shape for the future. All their top players are under long-term contracts, they’ve been drafting well and those players are starting to make an impact at the NHL level. But a lot of the organizational depth they’ve improved still won’t be NHL ready for another season. Compared with the team that moved to Winnipeg, they have actually improved their lineup a lot. Though a lot of this is overshadowed by moving from the weakest division to the toughest. They were good enough to make the playoffs in the East last year. Unfortunately they weren’t in the East anymore and need to keep improving to be able to compete in the Central.

    When I look at the top 9 now compared with what they had when the team moved from Atlanta, they’ve kept the good player, got rid of the bad players, and added around them. They’ve done it all quietly but they’re now 1 player from having a really solid top 9 with still some time in the offseason and a couple teams needing salary dumps to fill that hole.

  7. wutangwild - Aug 3, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    They are on the rise in my opinion, but the Central is just too stacked. I can see either them or Nashville deserving to be in the playoffs but miss due to the competition. It will come down to goaltending, and Pekka is clearly better. Anyways, hope to see them put on a good fight, Winnipeg fans deserve it.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Aug 3, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      I agree that they’re on the rise. The team’s prospects look better than ever, and once those guys start making an impact in the league, Winnipeg will draw players who want to win. Heck, look at Minnesota. I’m pretty convinced that if the Wild didn’t have some fantastic prospects in the pipeline, Suter and Parise would not have signed here, despite the family connections. When Scheifele, Trouba, Morrissey, and Ehlers hit their stride, and the goaltending situation gets properly sorted out between Hellebuyck, Comrie, and Hutchinson, Winnipeg will be a much more competitive team, and by association a more attractive location to play.

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  3. M. Boedker (1224)
  4. S. Matthias (1161)
  5. M. Zuccarello (1146)
  1. R. McDonagh (1137)
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  4. A. Ladd (1023)
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