That’s right. In just 5 years, the Winnipeg Jets will be your Stanley Cup Champions. Why, you may ask? Considering they’re a playoff team this year with their core in their early 20’s and one of, if not the, best farm systems in the league today, the future is very bright in Winnipeg.
After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg, the Jets are becoming a team to be reckoned with. Not only as they mature and improve, but as their promising prospects get closer to the day they suit up for the Winnipeg Jets.
First off, let’s take a look at what the Winnipeg Jets roster might look like come the 2019-20 season. Then, we’ll analyze where their core should be at and why that correlates into a Stanley Cup winning team.
Stanley Cup Roster:
The Winnipeg Jets lineup of forwards should be made up of about half of what they have now, and half of budding prospects, if all goes well.
Nikolaj Ehlers – Mark Scheifele – Andrew Ladd
Adam Lowry – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Joel Armia – Nicolas Petan – Michael Frolik
Scott Kosmachuk – Mathieu Perreault – J.C. Lipon
So, the Jets top prospect, Nikolaj Ehlers, comes in at 24 years old now, with likely four seasons of NHL experience, and is playing alongside Mark Scheifele, who is now the core of this team and it’s leading scorer at nearly a point per game. Veteran Andrew Ladd, who can still produce well at 34 years old, will guide both of his line mates to be great two-way players as well. Putting Scheifele and Ehlers together could produce one of the dynamic duo’s of the NHL.The second line is made up of all current Winnipeg Jets. Adam Lowry will have progressed into the prime of his career, producing anywhere around 50 points, while playing with two of the top Jets in Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. Together on a line, these two put up enough points to be first line players, but instead are used to spread out the depth and allow Winnipeg to roll all four lines all year, which translates into postseason success.
The bottom six is made up mostly of current prospects. Joel Armia and Nic Petan will bend well together with their two-way play and ability to create goals. They won’t be a typical third line, but by 2020, most of those will be gone and replaced with scoring lines. Michael Frolik sits on the wing and by 32 has past his prime, but he will still put up around 40 points beside these two scorers.
On the fourth line is Mathieu Perreault, who recently had a terrific season, in between prospects Scott Kosmachuk and J.C. Lipon. Although Lipon isn’t greatly regarded as a future NHLer, he will come through and by 2020, he will be in the prime of his career and as both a point producer and a physical player already, he will certainly be of great use to the Winnipeg Jets. Kosmachuk is a smart, physical player who knows how to play tough at both ends of the ice.
Most of the Jets defensive core will remain in place, with Byfuglien and Engstrom being the veterans now.
Jacob Trouba – Josh Morrissey
Tyler Myers – Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom – Ben Chiarot
Jacob Trouba and Josh Morressey lead the Jets on the back end. By 2020, Trouba is 26 years old and one of the NHL’s best defensemen. He scores around 20 goals and 50 points a year, while being extremely tough in his own end. Morrissey has developed alongside him and will have five years of experience by now. He is a top offensive defenceman who gets around 50 points as well each year. He is now mature and very dependable on the back end as well.
Myers and Byfuglien provide a pairing that no opponent looks forward to facing. They’re both gigantic and can lay out opponents or use their long reach to separate the puck. They also have rockets for shots from the point and when they get the puck on net, it usually results in a prime scoring chance. Myers will have finally matured defensively and will no longer be a liability back there.
Enstrom has regressed a little by 2020, but is still a valuable defender who can play the power play as well. He plays alongside Ben Ciarot, who has developed into a typical Winnipeg Jet that uses his body well and plays physically each night. Although they won’t produce offensively much, they are a great third pairing that can be trusted in all situations.
The Winnipeg Jets have two promising goaltenders coming up in Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck, but likely only one of them will make it.
This isn’t a rash decision coming from Hellebuyck’s World Championship performance, but a view of his entire junior career. He has had success at every level, starting with the NAHL at just 18 years old, where he stopped 93% of shots. In the NCAA, he had unbelievable numbers, with a .952 and .941 SV% in his two years. In his first pro year with the St. John’s Ice Caps of the AHL, he had a .921 SV%, which is spectacular for a rookie. He will turn into a very solid starter, backed by Michael Hutchinson, who provides stable security when needed, now at 30 years old.
Why Is This a Stanley Cup Champion Roster?
The Winnipeg Jets roster comes at you as one of the deepest in the league at all positions. Their ability to roll four lines all year provides a boost for the postseason. Each line is able to score, but they are also filled with responsible two-way forwards who leave no doubts in their own end. On the blue line, it’s starts with one of the top pairings in the league in Trouba and Morrissey. They produce tons of offence and are power play specialists. Myers and Byfuglien provide the most menacing pairing in the NHL. There is never a shortage of defensive ability. In goal, Hellebuyck has become a solid starting goaltender, who could thrive behind the defensive play in front of him.
The Winnipeg Jets will retain their current style of play; great speed paired with tough physicality. They will become a team that no one wants to face. The reason they win the Stanley Cup is the fact that they are a team built for the postseason, in which they won’t have to change a thing about themselves come April. Even if a few of their current prospects don’t mature as they should, they will still have the 2015 and 2016 NHL Draft prospects who would be near, or at, the level needed to become an NHL player by the 2019-20 season. The future is very bright in Winnipeg.