Let’s cut to the chase. The Winnipeg Jets probably won’t make the playoffs this season. Simply put, this team isn’t good enough at this point in time.
Granted, I said the same thing about the Colorado Avalanche exactly one year ago. All the Avalanche did was finished atop the tough Central Division. So I have been wrong in the past. However, I’m pretty confident the Jets won’t replicate the regular season success the Avalanche enjoyed last season.
Not All Doom And Gloom
There are bright spots on the 2014-15 edition of the Winnipeg Jets. The trio of Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have the potential to be an excellent first line. Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Michael Frolik are a solid second line. Mathieu Perrault brings much-needed depth up the middle as a third line centre.Rookie Adam Lowry brings size, strength and a bit more skill to the bottom six. Head coach Paul Maurice had a full training camp to implement and properly teach the system he wants the players to play. So there are reasons for hope in the Manitoba capital. But they’re overshadowed by the issues on this team.
There are many questions on the blue line. I have previously documented the struggles of Zach Bogosian and his need to step up his game. The likes of Adam Pardy, Grant Clitsome and Mark Stuart don’t inspire confidence. 2013 first round pick Josh Morrissey isn’t NHL ready yet, thus he was returned to the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
Dustin Byfuglien should be playing defence. But Maurice insists on playing Big Buff at forward. Even though Byfuglien drives up possession numbers from the blue line.
Then there is the goaltending. Ondrej Pavelec’s troubles are well documented. Lowest save percentage of all goalies that played over 40 games. An albatross of a contract that hinders the club from buying him out. Numerous critics both local and out-of-town feverishly criticizing the beleaguered Czech Republic keeper. While Maurice and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff gave Pavelec a vote of confidence, Pavelec will have to prove his doubters wrong.
Ondrej Pavelec's numbers would be better if he had better goaltending behind him.
— ??? (@wazoowazny) September 22, 2014
hi im ondrej pavelec and this is the ice bucket challenge for ALS *red light comes on*
— ?ryan lambert? (@twolinepass) August 20, 2014
Connor McDavid Sweepstakes
The MTS Centre remains one of the best atmospheres in the NHL. When the Jets are playing well, the building is simply electric. Many are wondering what would happen if the Jets actually made the playoffs. The roof may explode. But the chances of that happening are slim. The Jets are stuck in arguably the toughest division in the NHL. The Central Division is loaded with the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. All of them a force to be reckoned with. Even the Nashville Predators, a team that laboured last season should be a much improved squad.
This franchise might be better off entering the Connor McDavid sweepstakes instead of going for a playoff spot. The Jets do have some promising future starts in waiting. Imagine McDavid with Nikolaj Ehlers and Nicolas Petan. It would make the Jets a fascinating team in 2018. But it won’t help for this year. There will be sunny days ahead. But the Jets must pass through some storm clouds first.