West preview… Can the Jets surpass 84 points?

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Our western conference preview continues with a focus on the Winnipeg Jets. This is the Jets’ fourth season in Winnipeg after relocating from Atlanta, and they’ve missed the playoffs all three seasons. They finished with 84 points in 2012 and 2014, and 51 during the shortened 2013 season.

They missed the playoffs by eight points in 2012 and four points in 2013 while skating in the eastern conference. They moved to the west last year and ended up in 11th spot, seven points out of the playoffs.

They Jets don’t need a massive improvement to make the postseason, but there is one glaring reason why they will could struggle to make the playoffs; Goaltending.

Ondrej Pavelec has played more minutes over the past three seasons

than every goalie except Antti Niemi and Henrik Lundqvist. He’s done so with a gaudy 0.904 SV%, which is tied for the lowest with Martin Brodeur of any goalie who has played 100 NHL games.

Pavelec’s SV% is going the wrong way.

2012: .906 SV% and 2.91 GAA

2013: .905 SV% and 2.80 GAA

2014: .901 SV% and 3.01 GAA

I’ve read some believe that Pavelec’s horrible numbers can be attributed to the Jets shoddy defensive zone play. I don’t agree with that, because the back up goalies numbers were much better.

Al Montoya had a respectable 0.922 SV% and 2.30 GAA in 1, 541 minutes played.

Michael Hutchinson was even better with a .943 SV% and 1.64 GAA in three games.

The backups played 1,723 minutes while Pavelec played 3,247. In just over half as many minutes the Jets were were 15-9-3 with Montoya/Hutchinson, but with Pavelec in goal they were only 22-26-7.

Hutchinson will push Pavelec for playing time, but if head coach Paul Maurice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff want to make the playoffs, and keep their jobs, they need to recognize that Pavelec is not that good.

OFFENSIVE DEPTH

Kane-Evander-1-Jets-2014

The Jets have solid mix of skill, size and defensive awareness amongst their top forwards, but they also have consistency issues.

Evander Kane has all the tools to be a great player, but we’ve yet to see that on a consistent basis. Blake Wheeler is the same, as is Dustin Byfuglien, who prefers to play defence, but will play right wing to start the season.

Their top two lines will likely look like this, although Wheeler and Frolik split time on the first line last year, so they could switch spots.

Andrew Ladd-Brian Little-Blake Wheeler
Kane-Mark Scheifele-Michael Frolik

The Jets need Scheifele to have a break out season. He had 16 points in his final 23 games last year, after scoring 18 in his first 40. If he gets off to a good start, I think Kane will as well. Those two will feed off one another, and if they produce the Jets should be in the playoff hunt.

The Jets best off-season move was signing Mathieu Perrault from Anaheim to replace Olli Jokinen. He will centre the 3rd line, with Byfuglien, or Frolik if they want to use them as a checking line, but the left wing spot is up for grabs.

Carl Klingberg, 2nd round pick in 2009, should compete for that spot after playing three seasons in the AHL. Eric Tangradi, Matt Halischuk and TJ Galiardi will also be in the mix.

Jim Slater will be the 4th line centre with two of the wingers who don’t grab the 3rd line vacancy.

BLUE LINE

The Jets will ice the same D corps as last year.

Tobias Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Grant Clitsome-Paul Postma
Adam Pardy

Postma only played 20 games last year due to injury, but he’ll see more icetime than Pardy this season. The Jets signed Keaton Ellerby as a depth defender, and they also have young Josh Morrissey in camp. Morrissey will get a long look, but I think he’ll spend one more year in junior.

Trouba was very good last season, and he should be even better this year. He played 22:26, and if he can stay healthy, he likely plays closer to 24 minutes this year.

The Jets need to be better defensively, but if they can get steady goaltending they will make a strong push for the playoffs.

SYNOPSIS

The Jets will be in the hunt, and if they realize that Pavelec isn’t the answer, or he shocks us and suddenly gets close to a .920 SV% (doubtful), then they will compete with Colorado for 4th in the Central.

QUICK HITS

  • Training camps open in less than ten days and there are many young players still not signed.

    Torrey Krug and Reilly Smith in Boston. Smith had 20 goals and 51 points, while Krug had 40 from the blueline.
    Jaden Schwartz had 25 goals and 56 points with the Blues.
    Danny DeKeyser averaged the 2nd most minutes for Detroit last year and was 10th in team scoring.
    Ryan Johansen had a career-high 33 goals and 63 points for Columbus.
    Brendon Dillon played the 2nd most minutes for Dallas, while Cody Eakins was 4th in Stars’ scoring with 35 points.
    Darcy Kuemper played the 2nd most minutes for the Wild in goal during the regular season and he was their starting goalie in the playoffs until he got hurt in game 7 vs. Colorado. Nino Niederreiter was 3rd in goals and 6th in points for the Wild last year.

    These teams all have one thing in common; they were playoff teams last year. They don’t panic and feel the need to give in on salary demands of young players who have had one very good season.

    These players don’t have much leverage, and the teams are wisely taking advantage of that. I’ll be curious to see if any of them get a big payday before the season starts. The last thing these young players should do is hold out, then sign a deal late in training camp and enter the season without a full training camp. In a full season, rarely to players who hold out for an extended period have a great season.

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  • BlazingSaitls

    The idea of playing arguably your best d-man as a 3rd line RW and paying him over $5 million a season is pretty hilarious. How is this not a bigger deal?

    • Jason Gregor

      Coach prefers him as a winger, but they use him as a blueliner on the PP and PK. Maurice feels he is too much of a gambler at EV…

      It is a hot topic in Winnipeg, but Byfuglien played wing last year once Maurice took over. I don’t see the argument going away…I’m curious to see how long he lasts in Winnipeg.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Only gimme in that division is the Preds. They’ll be hard pressed to match that 82 pts this season with the few changes made this summer. Paul Maurice is in tough.

    • Scary Gary

      I disagree, I think the preds will be improved. A healthy Rinne (24 games last yr) and a solid D core (Jones, Ellis, Weber, etc) and likely a few more goals scored ala Neal, Ribeiro, Forsberg, etc. should help. Although Fisher is hurt and Hornqvust is gone.

  • Spydyr

    As an Oiler fan, it’s tough being in the Pacific Division, but the Central is no cake walk either. Chicago, St. Louis, Minnie, Colorado and now Dallas. I actually thin the Oilers got off light in the Pacific with Van, Calgary, and Arizona being possible teams they can beat.

    Having said that, of the teams they will need to get over in order to make the Playoffs, I can see Winnipeg as a possibility. They are inconsistent and could easily have a Dubnyk like goal tending implosion, or maybe Kane doesn’t want to play their anymore, or Scheiflie is not the real deal at second line C.

    Maybe not this year, but I think it’s possible.

  • A-Mc

    Oh god please just start the NHL season! I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE.

    I’m literally fidgeting with my hands 24/7 this year; i need the season to start!

    In other news #GOilers

  • LinkfromHyrule

    who knows, maybe if byfuglien doesn’t work out on the third line they could try him in net

    No idea how everyone in the hockey world except cheveldayoff and the jets org see pavelec as a sub-par goalie. Like come on a .904 sp is basically AHL level goaltending.

    TOI is not a relevant evaluation of goalies!! He’s not going to get better if you just keep playing him lmao

  • Spydyr

    I think we can pass the Jets. They didn’t get better in the off-season and with the landscape in the West right now, not getting better means you’re getting worse. For the life of me I can’t understand why Pavelec is still there.

  • BlazingSaitls

    The sad thing is there will be more comments, reasonable opinions, and ideas presented on an Oilers page about the Jets than the Jets page about the Jets. They dont deserve a team :p

      • BlazingSaitls

        they may say similar things around the league but not with regards to the fanbase caring. There has never been such an inexplicably die-hard fanbase as the one the Edmonton Oilers are graced with. Winnipeg doesn’t even sell out their small arena and their fans sites are a wasteland.

        • Serious Gord

          I wouldn’t call edmonton’s fanbase “inexplicable”.

          And were EDM as poor and as bereft of corporate citizens as WPG was, rexall would be just as difficult a sellout as WPGs arena is.

        • The Jets fan base is reletively young compared to all other teams’ fan base. And many had developed loyalties to other teams in their absence which are only now returning to the Jets. So please, Asshat, give them at least the same amount of time that your Oilers have used (and continue to use) for their never ending rebuild.

          • BlazingSaitls

            Fact 1. The past year there has been reports of the “honey moon being over” and attendance is starting to drop.

            Fact 2. The Jets fans sites are a wasteland. I feel for their writers when they only get 2 comments per post.

            Fact 3. I do think Winnipeg deserves a team.
            Fact 4. I was making a flippantly, bad joke with the premise of fact 1, 2 as my guideline

          • FlamesRule

            Apologizes, but I have comments about your “facts”:

            Fact 1: The honeymoon being over is to be expected but the attendance dropping isn’t quite true. There are still 8,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets! Yes, Kijiji has several season ticket up for grabs (one can only take so much of Pavelec’s puck bumbling abilities) but they’re still being snatched up (at a above average price is what I’m told).

            Fact 2: Jets fans are still relatively new to the analytical world of hockey and are still stuck Jets 1.0 mindsets where traditional views remain dominant and rely on newspapers’ ancient columnists viewpoints. BUT, our Jets hockey writers/bloggers are fantastic and do great work (can’t stress this enough)! They’re slowing building great reputations and making great strides in educating the Jets masses (that’s right, there are Jets masses!). The youth are now spearheading the Jets movement and this has lead to more demand of accountability from Jets management (which you mentioned with the honey moon being over). Give it time, more fans will begin to flock to similar site as these (besides, Manitoba only got the internet two years ago and yes, only residents of Manitoba can make fun of this “wasteland” as you called it).

            Fact 3: Yes

            Fact 4: See fact 2, only those from Manitoba (and maybe Saskatchewan) are allowed to make jokes about Manitoba. It’s a reward (of sorts) for living here and enduring harsh summers and even harsher winters.

          • FlamesRule

            Also, Mr. “I became a commentator May 19 2014 06:13PM”, it appears you’re fairly new to this whole website thing yourself. How long have you had the Oilers (or Flames, which ever) and only now you’re commenting? Those who cast stones…

          • BlazingSaitls

            I dont get your time reference. Then again, everything is relative.

            Anyways….Keep up the good fight Jets Fan. The Peg needs many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many ,many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many…. more like you.

        • PlayDirty

          You might wanna check on your attendance deets. Small rink? Yep. But it is full every game. I’d argue it moreso than 90% of the buildings that claim to be sold out every night with what must be transparent fans, including our beloved Oil.

  • BlazingSaitls

    JG, what no prediction on whether Oil can catch Jets?

    @Will suggested weaker Pacific would help Oil, but it was weaker division already last year.

    So, goaltending will likely be greatest variable. If J Willis is correct you can snag a replacement goalie part for third or fourth round pick. This would mean Jets could fend off the threat from Oil with one minor trade.

    This time the analytics can’t capture the disgruntled star players. Oil take it.

    • Zarny

      I think relative to the Central Division, the current Pacific is an easier division to play. I contend that the flames are not better but worse this year with the subtractions they made. Arizona is also not better, though they still have Tippet so. And I actually think Vancouver is much worse. I would go so far as to say at forward, they are one of the shallowest teams in the West. Sure their defence is still great, but it is aging. I’m also not convinced Miller is going to be anything outstanding.