Winnipeg Jets Next Best Shooters

There’s no debate on who the best shooter on the Winnipeg Jets is. Patrik Laine may be the best shooter in the entire NHL. His release is lightning quick and his shot is fast and accurate.

Laine’s shot gets a lot of attention both from opposing teams and the media. Of course, he may be the best pure shooter to come into the league since Alex Ovechkin so it’s hard not to notice him. His shot does obscure some other great ones, however.

Take away the Jets premier sniper and they’ve still got a formidable cadre of shooters. Kyle Connor owns an underrated release and generally places his shot well. That’s how he piled up 31 goals in his rookie season.

Then there’s the unsung hero Ben Chiarot, who routinely tops 100 miles per hour in the Jets skills competition. His lower goal totals belie one of the hardest shots in the league.

Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey can both unload the puck in a hurry. The Jets have only gotten a taste of Jack Roslovic’s shot. And youngsters Kristian Vesalainen and Brendan Lemieux both own rocket shots.

Yet none of these players even cracks the top three among contenders for Winnipeg’s second-hardest shooter. The Jets are a team blessed with a wide array of weapons, and when it comes to shooting the puck, there are three players who are the deadliest.

Nikolaj Ehlers

Ehlers can rip his shots just about any way you want. He can shoot off the rush, wind up and unleash a bomb of a slapshot, or walk in and set up a sneaky wrister on the power play.

About the only way Ehlers has trouble converting is on breakaways. With his lethal shot, however, he’s a threat from seemingly anywhere else on the ice. There are few forwards Ehlers size who have his ability to shoot from the point.

Ehlers speed means he gets plenty of chances off the rush. His ability to cut back against the grain or dart his way around checks gets him into great shooting position as well. With wicked hands and a quick release, he can take advantage of almost any window.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets, NHL
Nikolaj Ehlers can shoot from a variety of positions and in a range of styles, making his attempts all the harder to read. (Photo: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What holds Ehlers back from being the best shooter on the Jets (aside from Laine’s prowess) is a need to be smarter with his shots more consistently. Sometimes he gets in his own head a bit and shoots wide or high. Other times, he passes when he ought to just unleash the beast.

Of course, given that Ehlers has spent much of the past two seasons with Laine, it’s easy to see why he defers sometimes. Sometimes, however, he needs to remind goalies why they should fear his shot just as much.

Dustin Byfuglien

No one should be surprised to see Big Buff on this list. With a slapshot frequently cl0cking in over 100 miles per hour, and a penchant for unloading bombs from the blue line, Byfuglien was the Jets big power play weapon before Laine’s arrival.

These days on the man advantage, Byfuglien plays set-up man for the young Finn. But every now and then he reminds goalies why there was always one man watching him specifically on the Jets pre-Laine power play.

Byfuglien’s shot on the power play is both hard and well-placed. It’s not a wild head hunter like many other defensemen’s shots, which separates Byfuglien from the pack.

He also gets it away in a hurry, which is the difference between Byfuglien and Chiarot. Chiarot can shoot nearly as hard, but his shots are more likely to be blocked on the way in, even if the shot blocker may wish he hadn’t afterward.

The Jets deadliest power play weapon when they moved from Atlanta is still a force to be reckoned with. He’s certainly one of Winnipeg’s best shooters.

Mark Scheifele

If not for Laine, we’d be talking about Scheifele’s shot an awful lot more often. He has one of the quickest releases in the game and puts his shots in perfect places.

Scheifele is option two on the power play, but when Laine was shadowed constantly in the playoffs, he became option one from between the circles. He led the Jets in playoff goals, proving he could snipe as well as his superstar teammate.

Scheifele’s goal totals attest to his sniper’s prowess. He had 32 goals in 2016-17 and would likely have equalled that total in 2017-18 if not for a freak shoulder injury. He still potted 23 goals in 60 games, putting him comfortably on a 30-goal pace over a full campaign.

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele can rip a puck as well as almost anyone in the NHL. (Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Scheifele is comfortable shooting from seemingly anywhere in the offensive zone. He’s also willing to go to the dirty areas and bang away at rebounds or position himself right at the top of the crease.

Between those attributes, his well-rounded game and, again, playing with a shooter like Laine, Scheifele’s shot doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There’s no doubt in the minds of his opponents, however, that Scheifele has a killer wrister.

You almost never see Scheifele take slap shots, which differentiates him from Ehlers and Byfuglien. Nonetheless, he is one of the best shooters in the NHL, and probably the second best shooter on the Winnipeg Jets.