Opening Night 2014: The Lineup Card

We recently took a look at the Jets’ depth chart, only to have the team add some bodies. Player previews will continue throughout the month, but the biggest question is always ice time and linemates. Inside we’ll look at a likely lineup for opening night and look back to years past for comparison. 

Opening Night 2011

The Jets’ 2.0 took flight against Montreal… sort of. They dropped the game 5-1 and managed just 84 points in their inaugural season. 

  • Ladd – Little – Wheeler
  • Kane – Burmistrov – Antropov
  • MacLean – Scheifele – Wellwood
  • Glass – Slater – Throburn
  • Stapleton (HS)
  • Fehr (IR)
  • Enstrom – Byfuglien
  • Hainsey – Bogosian
  • Stuart – Oduya
  • Meech (HS)
  • Jones (HS)
  • Pavelec
  • Mason
Jets fans were treated to an early warning sign – a powerplay that went 0-for-7 and a 17 save (on 22 shot) performance by Pavelec.

Scheifele would only play 7 games in this season, and Oduya was sent to Chicago. Grant Clitsome was claimed off waivers to replace the future Cup winner, and Antti Mietinen also arrived in this season via waivers. Brett MacLean, Eric Fehir, Tim Stapleton, Tanner Glass, and Chris Mason would be flushed by the end of the year.

Opening Night 2012

The Jets made losing on opening night a traditional with a 4-1 contest against Ottawa on January 19, 2013. 

  • Ladd – Little – Wheeler
  • Kane – Jokinen – Wellwood
  • Burmistrov – Scheifele – Antropov
  • Ponikarovsky – Slater – Thorburn
  • Peluso (HS)
  • Wright (HS)
  • Enstrom – Byfuglien
  • Hainsey – Clitsome
  • Stuart – Postma
  • Redmond (HS)
  • Pavelec
  • Montoya
This was the classic Claude Noel lineup. Antropov, Wellwood, and Scheifele all took shifts with Kane and Jokinen and took turns at the third line centre role (as did Burmistrov). With Bogosian starting the year injured, the defence group included 4 LH shots and Clitsome played the fewest minutes as a result. It’s a mess from opening night.

Wellwood was coming off a 47 point season but was put in a position to fail – somewhere Burmistrov, Hainsey and Antropov plied their trade for years. All four were lost in the off-season. Schiefele only had a cup of coffee in this season as well, and Ponikarovsky was moved after just 12 games. Tangradi was brought in from Pittsburgh just days before, and Mike Santorelli was added via waivers for a memorable 10 games at the end of the season and then released back into the wild (where he was eaten by an orca). Miettinen was given another 22 games, often as the RW for Kane, before being allowed to leave. It was a watershed season for the club, with a handful of contentious roster moves that still resonate today.

Opening Night 2013

A 5-4 fire fight with an Oilers team that turned out to be awful gave fans the sense the Jets had some serious offensive pop. Instead, they would finish with 2 more goals than they had in 2011.

  • Ladd – Little – Wheeler
  • Kane – Scheifele – Setoguchi
  • Wright – Jokinen – Frolik
  • Tangradi – Slater – Thorburn
  • Peluso (HS)
  • Halischuk (HS)
  • Enstrom – Byfuglien
  • Bogosian – Trouba 
  • Stuart – Postma
  • Pardy (HS)

  • Pavelec
  • Montoya
In two seasons, Wright has gone from Healthy Scratch to 3rd line LW, and for the third season in a row, Slater and Thorburn made promises as top-12 forwards that they just couldn’t live up to. For the first time, this team added genuine top-9 talent (Frolik and Setoguchi), but the coaches were on a different page. Seto would see his ice time cut and spend months with Thorburn or on his off-wing. Frolik spent his first few months sheltering whichever centre was struggling the most before emerging as an answer for the 1st line.

Trouba made such a statement this past year that the team cleared his path to the top of the depth chart by moving Big Buf to forward. But the main stories of this season was the sorties wasted on Wright, Peluso, Halischuk, Thorburn, and more, and the dramatic difference between Montoya and Pavelec. Pavelec’s .901 finally gave Montoya a chance and he delivered at a .920 save rate over 28 games. 

A change in coaches came with some expected turnover, and all of Wright, Jokinen, Montoya, and Setoguchi were shown the door. Redmond also left the organization this year.

Opening Night 2014 (Expected)

It seems the Jets have finished tinkering, and we have a pretty good idea of what things will look like. There has been talk that Kane was promised to Perreault despite his chemistry with Scheifele, but we’ll look at the ‘common sense’ lineup rather than speculate. 

  • Ladd – Little – Frolik
  • Kane – Scheifele – Wheeler
  • Galiardi – Perreault – Byfuglien
  • Tangradi – Slater – Thorburn
  • Peluso (HS)
  • Halischuk (HS)
  • Enstrom – Bogosian
  • Stuart – Trouba
  • Clitsome – Ellerby
  • Pardy (HS)
  • Postma (HS)
  • Pavelec
  • Hutchinson
Justin Bourne wrote today that this lineup might be assembled in order to compete for Connor McDavid. It was an idea I have floated a number of times, including after last year’s trade deadline. The team is opening on year four and no one can argue that they’re getting better. Meanwhile, a switch the Western Conference spelled disaster for Claude Noel, and a summer of the Central Division getting markedly better might be more than Paul Maurice can overcome.

The plan seems to be ‘wait and see,’ but it’s hard to know what the team is waiting for, exactly. The Jets boast a four-year hole in the top-9, a consistently poor 4th line, an injury prone and shallow defence group, and the worst goaltender in the league. At the same time, they’ve lost Burmistrov, Telegin and Kulda to Russia as well as an average of 5 players from their NHL roster per season, and they’ve failed to progress a single prospect from the AHL to full-time NHL work (Scheifele and Trouba skipped that step). Klingberg, Postma and Hutchinson are the most likely candidates for that, but the roster is filled with players who need to be sheltered and block prospects from graduating. It’s a genuine mess of a roster without a clear tell from the organization about their plan. They might have one, mind you, but we can’t tell what it is and that’s usually a bad sign for its efficacy.

We know from years past that when a team enters October out of balance and with holes, hockey in May is very unlikely. This roster won’t finish dead last in a league with Florida and Buffalo and Calgary. But trading Evander Kane or Dustin Byfuglien might be all it takes.

  • Not at all a Calgary fan, but I don’t see them as a lock for last in the west. Giordano/Brodie is a very legit top D pairing, they should see better goaltending results, and have decent veterans in their forward core. Decent contributions from Monahan/Baertchi/Gaudreau could push them into the 10-11 range.

    If I had to bet today, I’d say Winnipeg has as good a chance as anyone to finish last in the west, which pains me because I like this team and want these fans to experience some success.

  • Kevin McCartney

    O’Dell is a good bet and a bit of an oversight by me. A couple weeks ago I had him on the 3rd line and now I’ve forgotten him! But that’s honestly a little like the Jets themselves.

    The organizational tells about him suggest he’s not in their plans. Halischuk and Galiardi only serve to block one guy, really, and a year ago he was playing 4C for 5 minutes a night while Thorburn played 3LW. Things were a little different under Maurice, but again, the team spent money on one-way contracts that mean even O’Dell isn’t likely to graduate to full time NHL work this season.

    It’s bad asset management, but it’s also what we’ve come to expect from this management group.

    • So by my count, the Jets have 27 roster players that are either locks or will have to pass through waivers to be sent down. So that leaves us with 4 players that will need to be sent down to start the year. Of them, the ones with two-way contracts are: O’Dell, Cormier, Klingberg, Halischuk, Galiardi, and Ellerby.

      For me, of that group of guys, I’m least worried about losing Halischuk, Klingberg, Cormier and Ellerby to waivers (I also wouldn’t be concerned about losing either Thorburn or Peluso, but I assume that’s a moot point). I’m expecting something like the following, but I have a gut feeling they might send O’Dell down if he doesn’t make the roster and keep Ellerby up.

      FORWARDS (14)
      Ladd – Little – Frolik
      Kane – Perreault – Wheeler
      Galiardi – Scheifele – Byfuglien
      Tangradi – Slater – Thorburn
      O’Dell(HS)
      Peluso (HS)

      DEFENSEMEN (7)
      Enstrom – Bogosian
      Clitsome – Trouba
      Stuart – Postma
      Pardy (HS)

      GOALIES (2)
      Pavelec
      Hutchinson

      Waivers:
      Halischuk
      Ellerby
      Cormier
      Klingberg

  • Kevin McCartney

    Yeah, I think we’re in the same ball park. Ellerby’s advantage is that he can play the right side. The coach seemed to like Ellerby/Pardy as a pair, but he didn’t see Clitsome at all or Postma much.

    As for O’Dell vs Halischuk, I’m not sure it matters much. Halischuk delivered miserable results and is a cast off from another squad, so my preference is with O’Dell. But I thought Andrew Gordon or Jerome Samson should have taken Halischuk’s job last year and that never came to be, either.

    There is often (always) someone who could be put on short term IR after camp and pre-season, so I wrote a 24 man roster. But you’re right, lots of guys will have to be exposed to waivers. If I had to bet money, I would say Klingberg, O’Dell, Cormier are sent away, and maybe Ellerby if there isn’t an injury. The Jets are creatures of habit.

  • Kevin McCartney

    I’ll bet O’Dell stays up, Maurice said last season when he scratched him one of the times that he saw him as a scorer not an “energy guy” so the fourth line winger roster spot was not ideal for him. That tells me he is top-9 material this season unless he does something silly at camp.

    The better option is that Maurice realizes that “energy guys” are a waste of roster space and we get a 4th line of Galiardi/Slater or Cormier/Tangradi with Klinger and Galiardi swapping spots in and out of the lineup from time to time.

    But Thorburn just received a 3X1.3MM deal so, so much for that!

  • Karlos

    It’s hard to believe but the Jets lineup has actually gotten worse year over year,especially on defense. This team likely won’t finish last but somewhere in the leagues bottom 5 is almost a sure thing. Buffalo was active trying to improve there roster this summer,more than I can say about Chevy. The bottom dwellers will be Winnipeg,Florida,Islanders,Oilers and Calgary, having said that if we did tank and end up with the 1st pick we’ll be better off anyway.