Since the Winnipeg Jets’ relocation from Atlanta in 2011, they have seen many great players flow through the organization. With the game moving towards a speed and skill contest and away from a heavy-hitting affair, talent is key to be a successful full-time player in the NHL.
Productivity is mainly reflected on the scoresheet, but dedication to the community, making big plays in key moments, and leadership on and off the ice are what separates the great from the good players.
So, who has been the most productive Jets players since their relocation? This article takes a look at the best each season from 2011-12 all the way until 2019-20. The best player will be determined by points, game-winning goals, plus-minus, and overall contribution to the team.
2011-12 – Evander Kane
Many Jets fans may not be a fan of Evander Kane due to his bad attitude and altercations he had with other members of the team, but he was a very productive player for the squad in their first season. Although he was second to Blake Wheeler on the team in points, he led them in goals and plus/minus. He scored 30 goals for the first time in his young career and had his best plus/minus, even to this day.
It was not until a few seasons later that he was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in the Jets 2.0’s first “big” trade as a franchise. They ended up shipping Kane and Zach Bogosian to the Sabres in exchange for Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and a first-round draft pick (Jack Roslovic) — all of who became productive players on the Jets’ roster.
2012-13 – Andrew Ladd
In a shortened season due to the NHL lockout, Andrew Ladd led the team in points with 46 in 48 games played. The Jets captain also solidified those stats with four game-winning goals and the highest shooting percentage on the team.
Ladd was a very productive member of the Jets and a fan favourite until he was ultimately dealt at the 2016 Trade Deadline for Marko Dano and a first-round draft pick. Due to Ladd’s contract being done at the end of the year and the Jets not being able to afford it, they had to say goodbye to one of their leaders.
2013-14 – Dustin Byfuglien
The big, mean, point-getting defenseman for the Jets had a great season that led the team on the backend. Dustin Byfuglien’s 20 goals were the most as a defenseman and fourth most on the entire team.
Although he had a bad plus/minus that season, he made up for it with his offensive play. He led the team in shots with 256. Byfuglien was a beast for the Jets on the blue line, as other teams knew when he was on the ice so they wouldn’t put themselves in a position to get rocked.
In the beginning of 2020, the Jets and Byfuglien mutually decided to terminate his contract as he is considering retirement. He is a huge loss to the team’s defence core and will always be a fan favourite for years to come.
2014-15 and 2015-16 – Blake Wheeler
These two seasons were dominated by Minnesota native Blake Wheeler. In 2014-15, he was second on the team in points, but boasted a very impressive plus-26, putting him 13 above Tobias Enstrom.
Wheeler really started to get comfortable with the team and began getting more time on the power play. In 2015-16, he began to play with star forward Mark Scheifele, which helped him be almost a point-per-game player. Now captaining the Jets squad, he will look to lead the team to he Stanley Cup Final for the first time in Jets 2.0 history.
2016-17 – Mark Scheifele
In 2016-17, Scheifele had over a point-per-game pace for the first time in his career. With that, he was second on the team in goals, power-play points, and led the team in plus/minus.
After signing his contract following his rookie deal, he will look to be with the Jets for years to come and help to develop such a young core. With other players such as Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, etc., Scheifele will have to be a leader if the Jets want to be successful.
2017-18 – Patrik Laine
In 2017-18, the Finnish sniper netted 44 goals en route to his 70-point season. This was also due to an impressive almost 19 percent shooting percentage throughout the year.
The second-year forward really took his game to a new level this season and proved why he was drafted second overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Now in 2020, Laine is in his contract-ending year and will be looking to get a raise. Will the Jets trade him? Will they pay him? Or will they let another team offer sheet him? It will be a very interesting season and Laine will be a headline story across the league.
2018-19 – Jacob Trouba
The second defensemen to be the Jets best player is American-born Jacob Trouba. Although he was tied for fourth in points on the team, he was the number one defensemen by almost 20 total points.
The young, hard hitting, shutdown player that the Jets needed on defense was ultimately dealt to the New York Rangers for Neal Pionk and a first-round draft pick (Ville Heinola).
The Jets got a great player in Pionk in return and a future regular in Heinola. Although Trouba was great for the squad, it was time to move on and try and replace him.
2019-20 – Kyle Connor
Last but not least, Kyle Connor. Connor really came into his own last season and was an offensive machine for the Jets. He put up over a point per game, along with seven game-winning goals. He shifted between the first and second line with the Jets, but ultimately produced at each level.
Connor will look to dominate again as the NHL starts up again on Jan. 13, 2021, with the Jets being slotted in the North Division.
With all that being said, the Jets have had some great players since their 2011 relocation. Whether it be Ladd, Scheifele, or Wheeler, the fans will always have someone to cheer for if they play for the Jets, or even if they decide to move on to a different team.