Winnipeg Jets are finally interesting

Adam Gretz
NBC Sports

This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…

Not only have the Winnipeg Jets been a pretty mediocre hockey team for most of their existence, they have also been a painfully dull team.

Nothing particularly exciting on the ice.

A front office that has rebuilt the team at a snails pace, seemingly refusing to make any sort of significant trade or free agent signing.

For the longest time no real difference maker of a player to build around because they were never quite bad enough to get a top-pick where a franchise player can be selected.

Slowly but surely — emphasis on slowly — that has all started to change for the Jets.

Just consider the core they have to build around now…

  • Patrik Laine, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, just put together one of the best rookie seasons for an 18-year-old in recent NHL memory with his 36-goal in 73 games performance. He is the cornerstone player the Jets have been desperate for. They finally got the right draft pick in the right year to land that type of player.

  • Mark Scheifele, just now entering his prime years in the NHL, was a point-per-game player this past season and looks as if he has developed into a threat to score 30 goals every season. He topped that mark a year ago and almost certainly would have done it the previous year had he not missed nine games due to injury.

  • Nikolaj Ehlers, the team’s first-round pick in 2014, had a breakout season in 2016-17 that saw him top the 25-goal and 60-point marks, while also playing an exciting style and making highlight reels due to his playmaking ability and speed.

That is an exciting young trio of forwards that not only play a visually pleasing style of hockey, but are also extremely productive. It is a great young core to build around.

Along with that group also have a solid stable of veterans led by the always underrated Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. There really is a lot of talent on this team and it produced one of the best offenses in the league.

Unfortunately they also had one of the worst defensive performances in the league. If nothing else it made their games some of the highest scoring in the league, making them the team to watch if you like offense. In a league where the average game saw only 5.5 goals per game, Jets games were putting more than six goals per game on the board. That is probably not what they want to see as it isn’t always the best recipe for consistent, sustained success, but it’s at least brought some excitement to a team that that for years had none outside of whatever chants its crowd could come up with.

It’s taken a few years, but the Jets finally have enough young pieces in place that they might be able to start building something of significance. At least as it relates to their forwards.

They just need to find a way to keep the puck out of their own net.


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