The Capitals have the undeniable poster boy that is Alex Ovechkin. The Panthers have a charismatic vet in Ed Jovanoski. The Lightning have one of the league’s top work horses in Dominic Moore. And the Huricannes have a one-man double-threat — half sniper, half heartthrob — with Jeff Skinner.
But what about the Southeast Division’s newest addition – which Jet will emerge as the fan favourite in Winnipeg?
Although when the franchise called Atlanta home it could be argued top-end talents Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien received the loudest cheers, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the possibilities ahead.
With a market that does not exactly mirror Atlanta, Georgia, a changing of the guard may be in order. It won’t happen overnight, but one Jets roster player will eventually surface as the perennial fan favourite.
THE YOUNG BUCK:
It’s hard to ignore the combination of skill and personality he brings to the table. Just 20 and with sky high on-ice expectations, Vancouer, B.C.-born Kane has plenty to prove but, at the same time, a ton to gain in the end. Although Kane notched just 19 goals in Atlanta last year, with every passing shift his developmental curve continues to impress. In terms of fan interaction, Kane leads the pack by fully embracing social media.
THE LOCAL BOY(S):
The province of Manitoba’s population is largely concentrated in the city of Winnipeg. Nevertheless, tough western Canadian kids from small towns are not exactly a dime a dozen. Eric Fehr, who hails from the prarie town of Winkler — which has a population of 9,000 and is 100 kilometers from the ‘Peg — is the Jets’ closest resemblance to a home-grown kid. Even though he doesn’t boast a stat line that will wet fans’ pants, Fehr could turn into the Jets’ beloved secondary scoring product.
Technically more local than Fehr, Meech has the chance to truly live the dream. From Winnipeg but not guaranteed quality ice time in 2011-12, the 2002 229th overall pick lags behind his fellow Manitoban as the top candidate from the area to garner serious fanfare. Luckily, the 27-year-old has a fair amount of time to turn some heads on the backend.
THE PHYSICAL SPECIMEN:
Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 215 pounds, the right-handed d-man has yet to show his true colours in the NHL. Bogosian, 21, is one of the most highly-touted defenseman in the league who has yet to post a breakout campaign. With a change of address and atmosphere in 2011-12, last year’s minus-27 could turn into something more respectable for the American. Once he shakes the defensive liability tag, fans will drool over not only Bogosian’s tangible offerings but his intangibles as well.
THE DEPENDABLE LEADER:
Everyone loves a leader – it’s that simple. Everyone also loves buying a customized jersey with a steadfast name on the back. Ladd fits both profiles and has the captaincy to show for it. At only 25, the left-winger from nearby B.C. won’t have any difficulties pleasing Jets nation. Moreover, considering management didn’t exactly break the bank during this summer’s free agency period, a long-term face of the franchise type like Ladd is automatically put into the pool of serious contenders for fan favourite.
THE OFFENSIVE DYNAMO:
Known mainly for his get-out-of-your-seat style of “defending”, Byfuglien offers Jets lovers an uncontested level of excitement. While some may fret over his inability to put his defensive responsibilities before scoring goals, the majority should warm up to Big Buff’s unique blend of massive size and soft hands. In 2010-11, the former Blackhawk recorded the second most shots in the league. On a team with below-average fire power, said statistic will be yearned for by fans.