While the Winnipeg Jets failed to make the playoffs last year, the franchise showed that it has a promising future. The team finished fifth in the Central Division with a 40-35-7 record. Winnipeg made moves in the offseason to strengthen their goaltending and look ready to impress. The Winnipeg Jets 2017-2018 Season Preview expects the team to look ready for a legitimate shot at a post-season berth.
The Jets might have the best four lines in the NHL. The top line of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers is among the best lines in the league. Laine and his lethal shot, finished seventh in the league in goals scored during his rookie year. Barring any injury issues (he did miss eight games to a concussion last season), Laine should be among the top of the league again in scoring. There is a good chance he finishes with 40 plus goals during the 2017-2018 seasons. In 2016-2017, Scheifele had a career year. In his sixth NHL season, he had the seventh most points in the league with 82. On left side of Scheifele, Ehlers tied Laine for the third most points on the Jets with 64. Going into his third season, the Danish forward looks to have lots of room to grow.
Behind the Laine-Scheifele-Ehlers line, the team continues to feature players that will have large offensive impacts. Blake Wheeler finished the 2017-2018 season with 26 goals and 48 assists, for the second highest point total on the team. He can be expected to post large numbers this upcoming year as well. The team also recently resigned Bryan Little, who if healthy will be an offensive force as well. Little missed 23 games with a lower body injury but scored at a 0.80 point per game pace while healthy.
Winnipeg’s blue line looks fairly strong as well. Their centerpiece here is Dustin Byfuglien, who led the league in time on ice last year. The heavy hitting defenseman is also capable of contributing on offense. He finished sixth among league defenseman in points with 52 during the 2016-2017 campaign.
Along with Byfuglien, the young Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey will likely play important roles for the team. Trouba posted 33 points in 60 games while logging 24:57 of TOI. Morrissey in his second NHL season finished third on the team in points by defensemen with 20. The two D-men look to have room to grow and look to be heading the right direction in their development at the NHL level. The team’s defense is rounded out by Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom, both of whom played more than 20 minutes a night during the 2016-2017 season.
The Jets’ goaltending was their biggest issue last season, allowing the fourth most goals in the league. Winnipeg signed Steve Mason to try and shore this up. Mason did not have the greatest season last year, finishing with a .908 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA. Mason is expected to split time with Connor Hellebuyck. Who had similar results to Mason during his sophomore season. The UMass-Lowell product posted a .907 save percentage and 2.89 GAA in 2016-2017. This is down from the .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA that he posted in a smaller role as a rookie. Hellebuyck has the potential to be an elite netminder and the acquisition of Mason may allow him more time to develop into someone who will have success every night.
Winnipeg Jets 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
The Winnipeg Jets look to have made an attempt to solve their defensive woes from last season by signing Steve Mason to split time with Connor Hellebuyck. While neither had great success last year, they both are likely to perform better while splitting the 82-game slate more evenly. The team features a good group of defensmen led by Dustin Byfuglien, as well as possibly the best team of forwards in the NHL. The Jets should have no problem putting the biscuit in the basket, and if their goaltending performs better than last year, there is a good chance they make the playoffs.
- The Jets have many proven offensive threats. Led by Mark Scheifle, Patrick Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler, they look to be one of the bigger offensive powerhouses in the NHL
- Winnipeg’s blue line also looks solid. They have three pairs that could possibly average 20+ minutes a night and contribute offensively.
- In net Steve Mason and Connor Hellebuyck are likely to split time. This should give them both better chances at success in the 2017-2018 season