Going into this season, the Winnipeg Jets decided to ice a young and upcoming team in hopes of giving their younger prospects more of a development chance at the NHL level. So far, we’ve seen some experiments work, and others that may need a little more time. There has undoubtedly been the good in some of the young guns’ games, but there’s also been some bad. Let’s take a look at what’s been working so far and what needs some improvement.
Patrik Laine has been solid in his first few games to start the season. The Finnish native has four goals and six points in six games so far, along with seven hits, three blocked shots, and a Corsi-for percentage of 58.4 percent. Laine also has a shooting percentage of 25 percent throughout six games, and I think it’s safe to say that just about everyone wants the kid to shoot more.
Laine possesses a booming slap shot and a pinpoint-accurate wrist shot, but he’s averaging just 2.6 shots a game (16 total over six games). To flourish into the lights-out goal scorer that everyone expects him to become, Laine will need to let his offensive talents run free and capitalize on shooting the puck a lot more than he has been. While he’s had a strong start, the young forward has a lot of potential and, deep down, he knows he has more to prove.
After the Jets finalized their roster, I don’t think anyone expected to see Josh Morrissey playing alongside Dustin Byfuglien on the Jets’ top pairing just six games into the season. Well, that’s exactly where you’ll find Morrissey today, and the young blueliner is silencing his critics through strong play.
Morrissey has just one assist through six games, but it’s been his strong defensive play that has caught the attention of many. Recognized more for his offensive abilities, Morrissey has been playing a reliable game in his own end against other teams’ top players and making people take notice. If things continue to go well for Morrissey, he could very well be seeing more time on the power play as well — a place where he’s excelled in the past. Things look like they’re only going to get better for the young blueliner from here; let’s hope the strong play keeps up.
Connor Hellebuyck/Michael Hutchinson
The Jets’ goaltending has arguably been their biggest issue thus far in the season. The tandem of Hellebuyck and Hutchinson have been terribly inconsistent over the first six games, allowing goals early on and seeing their teammates have to fight back late in the game in order to try and earn a win. To be fair, the Jets’ defense has been fairly inconsistent to start the season, and this is ultimately bound to lead to inconsistent goaltending. However, when the Jets have needed either Hellebuyck or Hutchinson to step up and bail them out, neither goaltender has answered the calling in strong fashion.
Together, the duo have combined for an .884 save percentage, while the league average is currently at .904 percent. Both goalies will need to up their game moving forward if they want to earn the respect and trust of their teammates. The potential is there and they’re now getting the opportunity to prove themselves.
The former Michigan Wolverine was highly regarded going into the season, especially after a strong preseason that saw Connor record three goals and four points in five games. However, the regular season hasn’t been so kind to the American forward, as he has just one assist and remains a minus-5 throughout five games.
Connor was a healthy scratch against the Dallas Stars Tuesday night as the Jets management thought it’d be beneficial for him to watch a game from the press box in order to see the game from a different perspective. Jets head coach Paul Maurice sees the skill and competitive drive that Connor possesses, and asked on whether or not Connor would be back in the lineup soon, Maurice responded “You can never guarantee a guy is going back into the lineup, but we’re not going to have him watch a lot of hockey games, that’s for sure.”
You can’t blame him, the kid has a knack for scoring goals.
Connor will be expected to raise his game going into the Jets’ next contest that features him in the lineup, as he has much to prove still. The skill is there, it’s just a matter of time until we see it come to light. It’s time for him to get the offense rolling.
The young guns will look to continue progressing in their development as the season rolls along. Some will be trying to keep up the strong play, while others will aim to turn their play around completely. Let’s see what they make of it in the coming months.