The Winnipeg Jets have been excellent the first half of the season. Sitting in fourth place in the tough Central Division with a 26-14-8 record, the Jets currently hold down the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference going into the All-Star break.
The Jets have been one of the biggest surprises so far this season. It is time then for some players to receive some extra platitudes. Here are the midseason awards for the Winnipeg Jets in 2014-15.
MVP: Dustin Byfuglien
Big Bad Buff started the season at forward, much to his disappointment. But when the Jets were hit with a slew of injuries on the blue line, coach Paul Maurice had no choice but to move Byfuglien to defence. As mentioned in a previous post, Byfuglien has been a force since the move, becoming a dynamic yet responsible defenceman. His physical side has come out since being moved, giving opposing forwards something to think about when they cross the Jets blue line. There is no doubt that Byfuglien has been the Jets best player this season.
Rookie Of The Year: Michael Hutchinson
A candidate for the Calder Trophy this season, Hutchinson has been a major reason for the Jets rise this season. The Barrie, Ontario native has a .935 save percentage, which is second best in the NHL. Hutchinson’s play has been so impressive, that it forced Maurice to rotate between him and the anointed starter, Ondrej Pavelec.
I'll say this much about Michael Hutchinson. He appears to be a winner. #NHLJets
— randy turner (@randyturner15) January 11, 2015
In fact, Hutchinson’s strong play has forced Pavelec to step up his game. Hutchinson will be in tough to win the Calder but if his outstanding play continues, the Jets may have found their goalie of the present and the future.
Best Acquisition: Mathieu Perrault
When general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff dipped his toe into the free agency waters, Jets fans didn’t expect much. Turns out the lone signing by the Jets GM has turned into quite a find. Perrault is enjoying a breakout season, recording 15 goals and 14 assists in 45 games. His four goal outburst against the Florida Panthers is one of the season’s shining moments.
Mathieu Perrault is cookin' right now. Sizzling hot.
— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) January 14, 2015
Perrault has been excellent on the power play, as he has been utilized along the half-wall to direct traffic. His hockey sense and intelligence have been invaluable for the Jets. Perrault did suffer an arm injury thanks to a vicious cross check from Daniel Carcillo but is expected to return following the break.
Most Improved: Ben Chiarot
The Hamilton, Ontario native has spent the better part of the last three seasons with the Jets AHL affiliate in St. John’s. Chiarot played in one game last season but spent the rest of the time down at The Rock. With the rash of injuries that plagued the Jets, Chiarot was plugged into duty and has impressed the Jets brass to the point that he maintained his spot in the lineup when the regulars started getting healthy. Chiarot isn’t flashy by any means, but he’s a stable, dependable defender who will use his 6-3, 215 pound frame to his advantage. Teamed with Byfuglien on the point, Chiarot has grown by leaps and bounds this season. The Jets can only hope this trend continues.