The Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs for the third straight year and their fans are getting impatient. But don’t count on them ending their playoff drought with your NHL picks.
What Went Wrong Last Season?
The Jets finished seventh in the Central with 84 points, seven points out of a postseason spot. A six-game losing streak in March might have sealed their fate. They weren’t that great defensively as the Jets were 22nd in the NHL in goals allowed and they didn’t score enough to compensate for that as they were only 15th in goals scored. That in a nut shell describes the Jets: not the worst team in the NHL but lacking enough to be a quality team. They don’t excel in any one area but they aren’t overly weak in any one area either.
The Jets kicked off the offseason by signing Paul Maurice to a four-year extension and it was deserved. The team did play better under him after Maurice took over for Claude Noel in January. Maurice has done pretty well with what he has in Winnipeg and now the players will have a full training camp under him to learn his systems.
On the player front, the Jets brought in Mathieu Perreault to shore up the center position and he is coming off a career season in Anaheim, so he will be counted on for goals in Winnipeg. Olli Jokinen and Al Montoya left for the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, respectively, and the latter could be an important loss as Montoya had better numbers than Ondrej Pavelec in goal. However, the Jets decided to go with the 27-year-old Pavelec more often instead of the 29-year-old Montoya.
It was another vanilla offseason for the Jets. As mentioned, they aren’t really strong in any one realm and they needed to get some help. Instead, they stood pat and that’s going to doom them.
While making your NHL picks its worth noting the Jets have some solid offensive players with Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, but the onus is on Evander Kane to break out and take that step to the next level because he might be the most talented player on the team. Perreault should help on that end but there will be a lot of eyes on Kane – especially on the power play where the Jets were 25th in the NHL standings. But even if Kane emerges, this team still looks like they’ll struggle on offense.
The defense doesn’t look like it got any better either as the Jets did nothing. They have to play better because the Jets don’t score enough goals. Byfuglien was a -20 last season, Pavelec is a borderline starter and the blue line lacks serious quality and depth.
The bottom line is that the Jets don’t have the talent from top to bottom that the teams who finished above them last season have, so Maurice is going to have to do one of his best coaching jobs and the team has to work extra hard to keep up. They’re not good enough to make the playoffs in the challenging West – even if they catch some breaks.
NHL Pick: Will Miss The Playoffs