(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)
Last Season In Emojis
Last Season, In Summary
The Jets were relocated from the friendly confines of the Southeast Division to the competitive hell of the Central Division. Winnipeg stumbled to a 19-23-5 record to start the season, which led to the dumping of Claude Noel.
Enter Paul Maurice, back in the NHL after looking studious behind the bench in the KHL. He steadied the ship, as the Jets went 8-2-0 in his first 10 games and 18-12-5 overall under his guidance. Alas, their putrid 9-15-5 record against the Central was their undoing.
Well, that and the craptastic .901 save percentage from Ondrej Pavelec.
Last Season’s Definitive Highlight
Jake Muzzin gets Buff’d! And then got, you know, a Cup ring and stuff, but still, tooooootallly Buff'd here.
Kevin Cheveldayoff continued to do a large heaping plate of nothing to turn the Jets into contenders. Mathieu Perreault and T.J. Galiardi were signed. Plan the parade.
Leaving the ‘Peg were Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi, who combined for 70 points last season.
Blake Wheeler continued to find his groove, with 28 goals and 41 assists, including eight tallies on the power play. His line with Bryan Little (64 points) and Andrew Ladd (54 points) was the top unit for Winnipeg last season. Little (1.355) and Ladd (1.247) were the Jets’ leaders in Corsi Rel (Quality of Competition).
Evander Kane remains the team’s most dynamic offensive talent, but was slowed by a concussion last season. He managed 19 goals, but it was his lowest goals-per-game as a Jet.
Dustin Byfuglien was shifted back up front by Maurice and appears he won't budge from there. And by "there" we of course mean "wherever Dustin Byfuglien is at any point on Earth." He had 56 points in 78 games, to go along with a minus-20, splitting time between the positions. Which was Ovechkin-like, for all the wrong reasons.
The most interesting offensive player might have been Mark Scheifele, the long-gestating young star. He had 34 points in 63 games, and showed flashes of that top-line center potential he’s carried since he was drafted.
Mathieu Perreault was an interesting addition. The former Duck and Capital always has a few stretches of offensive spark, but hasn’t found the consistency to warrant a top-six role.
Michael Frolik, who was re-signed, gave the Jets 42 points in 81 games. Eric Tangradi continued to be an offensive black hole (3 goals in 55 games). Matt Halischuk and Anthony Peluso provided depth. Chris Thorburn and Jim Slater provide the sandpaper.
The Jets have a few other players in the pipeline at forward but none that really seem like blue-chippers.
Tobias Enstrom led the Jets with 23:53 average time on ice, earning major minutes on the power play and shorthanded. He was a possession driver (1.100 Corsi Rel) and remains their rock on the blueline.
Zach Bogosian was third on the team in ice time (22:54) but was limited to 55 games due to injury. Grant Clitsome couldn’t achieve a full season due to a back injury, and had 12 points in 32 games.
Mark Stuart was solid in 65 games, averaging 18:38 per game. Adam Pardy was OK for depth. Keaton Ellerby played 51 games was generally underwhelming in limited ice time.
Jacob Trouba had 29 points in 65 games as a 19-year-old rookie, and it’s clear we’re just scratching the surface of what he’ll become. Fan favorite Paul Postma will seek more ice time.
Then there's Josh Morrissey, a total wild card. He's outgrown the CHL. He could be another Trouba ... or the Jets will play it safe with him, as NHL teams usually should do with teenage backliners.
Pavelec is considered the worst starting goalie in hockey, and hasn’t done much to mount a counterargument.
His .908 save percentage at even strength was the worst for goalies facing a minimum of 1,000 shots on goal. His save percentage has fallen in each of the last three seasons. But Cheveldayoff said he’s the Jets’ No. 1 goalie rather than saying he was getting a buyout, which might be the most compelling case that Winnipeg is in “Dishonor For Connor” mode this season.
His backup is Michael Hutchinson, which is a kick.
Probable Text Conversation Within Organization
The Jets had the 25th best power play in the NHL last season at 15.4 percent, although on home ice that jumped to 16.6 percent (25 goals in 151 chances). Overall, the Jets were 20th in power-play opportunities with 259. Wheeler, Little and Byfuglien each had eight goals on the power play. Evander Kane, however, had one in 63 games.
The Jets had the 10th best penalty kill in the NHL last season at 83.2 percent, and this time there were better on the road (84.4 percent) than home (82 percent). Winnipeg had the sixth-most times shorthanded in the League at 291.
GM and Coach
Cheveldayoff’s plan for the Jets appears to be keeping a core of former Thrashers together, surrounding them with homegrown talent and then hoping that it all comes together in a package that might attract other talent to play in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, the Jets are about as far from the postseason as Winnipeg is from Honolulu.
Maurice is a pro, and the fact that he decided to return to the Jets is a nice endorsement of their players and their plan. Or the fact that it’s the best NHL job he could land. In any event, he’s a better coach than Noel. He can make something out of this. And he wears glasses, which means he's smart.
And Now, A Blooper
Adam Pardy loses his hat ... to a sloppy drunk Chicago Blackhawks fan. We forgot how completely amazing this was.
The Potential Best Thing About This Team
Scheifele and Trouba are going to be stars for this team, and can build on the potential we witnessed last season. Mark Scheifele in particular is going to be a key, with Little needing better support than what Perreault is going to end up giving him.
The Potential Worst Thing About This Team
Rhymes with “Have Sick.” Plays goal. Seriously, there are many, many other goalies in this League that would love the chance to have Pavs' starts in Winnipeg. WHY AREN'T THEY HERE?
Single Emoji Prediction
The traffic light. Because we've been waiting for a green with this team since it relocated. Oh, and it's the horizontal one, to combat those damaging arctic blasts in Manitoba.
The Jets aren’t a playoff team, especially in the West, but they’ll compete every night. But they're right there with the Preds at the bottom of the Central; which sucks, because the best fans in the NHL (as far as arena experience go) deserve so much more than a team still coasting on the fumes of its honeymoon.