The Winnipeg Jets, And Their Impact In Fantasy Hockey Circles

Just because you’re into fantasy hockey doesn’t mean you’re this guy.

In case you haven’t heard, the NHL is back

I’m aware that some people have been put off by the ordeal that dragged on through to January 6th, claiming that they’re not coming back to the game. And while I disagree with those sentiments, everyone is entitled to their beliefs. I’ll personally be enjoying the NHL product as much as I have in the years leading up to this lockout; if not even more, now that I have been reminded of terrible life without it can be.

One of the ways in which I consume the product, making the most of the experience, is by playing in fantasy hockey leagues. It’s competitive, it’s fun, it allows you to feel like a General Manager (without the stress that accompanies that position), and it makes you care about things you may not have necessarily cared about otherwise.

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Friend of the blog, Jeff Angus, and I have combined to give a fantasy hockey preview of sorts, with a focus on the more prevalent questions surrounding the Winnipeg Jets heading into this shortened 2013 season. Believe it or not, the Jets enter the season as one of the more fascinating teams from a fantasy perspective, with a roster that boasts a handful of multi-dimensional talents.

Read Past the Jump for More.

Should Evander Kane’s off-the-ice issues concern his owners?

Unless you play in a league which deducts points for your players being young and having fun, the answer is a resounding no. Evander Kane is a tremendous hockey player, but he’s an even better contributor for fantasy hockey purposes.

Last season, he managed to reach the 30 goal plateau (which only 29 other players managed to do), while tacking on 53 penalty minutes and 287 shots on goal. In rotisserie scoring formats, he’s the complete package. Power forwards with his skillset make my mouth water, because they’re so rare. I’m expecting a slight uptick in production (in terms of a rate) all across the board for Kane, but even if he manages to match his output from last season, his owners should be happy. The sky really is the limit for him.

What can we expect from Olli Jokinen this season?

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Jokinen quietly got his career (mojo?) back on track last season in Calgary; he registered what may have been one of the quietest 60 point campaigns in recent memory, playing for a forgettable Flames squad. Which ultimately doesn’t matter because you don’t get credit for style points. He likely won’t be asked to do quite as much for the Jets, but he will provide decent two-way play and the ability to play on one of the two power play units. Jokinen will also provide some insulation behind Bryan Little on the depth chart, and the two should post similar point totals in this condensed season.

At this point of his career, he’s a complimentary piece. But your ability to snag guys like Jokinen late in your draft could make the difference between winning and losing. As long as you don’t think of Jokinen as the guy from 2005-08, you should be pleasantly surprised by his contributions come season’s end.

Was last year a positive sign, or is BoGo a No-Go?

Back in October, I wrote about Zach Bogosian and the 2008 draft, which provided us with a plethora of outstanding defensive talent. I still believe that he is a supreme talent, just waiting to explode onto the scene. We saw flashes of it last season, as he set career highs in points (30), time on ice (23:19), and penalty minutes (71). 

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Unfortunately for him, he has two things going against him. He’s stuck behind two upper echelon defensemen in Byfuglien (quite a large hurdle, if I may say so) and Enstrom, which puts a cap on his ceiling. But before we can even begin to worry about that, he needs to get fully healthy. He just recently started skating after wrist surgery, and is still likely at least a few weeks away.

If you’re in a keeper league, I’d recommend making a move for Bogosian. His value likely won’t be lower than it is right now. I just wouldn’t expect to get anything out of him this season.

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Is Blake Wheeler ready to take the next step towards NHL stardom?

Below is an except from the Dobber Guide:

"I have a lot of faith in Wheeler becoming an 80-point player. I don’t think last season was his peak at all. His shot totals have been consistently rising, he’s got the size, speed and hockey sense to take this to another level. He had a slow start last year, but tallied 57 points in his last 62 games. And what’s even better about this guy is that he doesn’t get hurt. Four seasons in the NHL and five games missed. I’m in the minority here, but in a points-only keeper league give me Wheeler over Kane any day.”

Will Paul Postma’s AHL success translate to the NHL?

Postma has had a very prolific scoring career in both the WHL and AHL, and he now gets the opportunity to do the same in the NHL with the Jets. Over the past 3 seasons, he has managed to post (no pun intended) 107 points in 152 AHL games. Obviously the NHL is an entirely different animal, but there’s reason to be excited about this kid.

He could be a pleasant addition to your roster (either as a flier in the final rounds, or a pick-up off of the waiver wire), playing the role of a complimentary scoring defenseman. Over the course of a full season, we had him projected for 30-35 points. With the shortened schedule, we have him at 20 points (in 45 games), with a potential for more depending on how Claude Noel decides to utilize him.

Can Ondrej Pavelec live up to his contract?

There will be a lot of pressure on goaltenders this season, even more so than usual. Pavelec was, at times, fantastic last season for the Jets. His play also fell off at certain points of the season, which is to be expected from a young goaltender growing into the role of starter in the NHL.

More on Pavelec from the 2013 DobberHockey Goalie Guide (which can be found here):

When Pavelec collapsed early in the first game of the 2010-11 season, it was a scary experience that changed his outlook on life. He gained an even stronger perspective on the highs and lows of being an NHL goaltender behind the guidance of Clint Malarchuk, who was his goalie coach at the time in Atlanta. When he returned to the lineup a few weeks later, he was a different goalie. It took a few games to get back into a groove, but a six-game winning streak in November started to reveal his future as a long-term starter.

He finished that season with just a 21-23-9 record, a 2.73 GAA and .914 SV%, but for a wishy-washy Thrashers team, those were decent numbers in 54 games. Last season, Pavelec continued to build on his reputation as a workhorse starter. He played in 67 games, posted 29-28-9 record, and had a 2.91 GAA and .906 SV%. The stats weren’t as good as the year before, but that had to be expected with the transition from Atlanta to Winnipeg. Furthermore, there were flashes of brilliance, but his lack of consistency limited his value.”

If you are wondering how to construct your fantasy hockey roster, pick up the DobberHockey 2013 Fantasy Guide. Unlike the other guides that were released last summer, the DobberHockey Guide is completely updated with everything that has occurred during the lockout. All projections are based on a 48 to 52 game schedule.

There are many things that need to be considered such as injuries, how prospects performed in the AHL, what a shortened season means for older players, and so much more. Dobber has spent the days leading up to ratification going through each player with a fine-tooth comb, putting all of the aforementioned things into perspective. Almost every single page of the Guide that was released on August 1st has been changed.

Pick the Guide up here – you won’t be disappointed!