The regular season is just over the horizon. Most teams have made the final touches to their roster and practicing in the lines we’ll see for the start of the season.
The Winnipeg Jets are one such team with their opening roster’s lines looking set, provided injuries do not change things.
We’ll preview the season by looking at some of the lines for the Jets, next up comes the Jets 3rd line.
Previously the Jets third line lacked a real identity. Predominately the Jets deployed the third line merely as “the rest of the group.”
Now looks no longer to be the case. The Jets have two incredibly defensive responsible players in Alex Burmistrov and Adam Lowry, while adding some offensive punch with Drew Stafford.
Even for the everyday-layman fan, placing Burmistrov with Lowry looks logical right from the start.
Maurice has previously spoken about developing Lowry into a player with a similar role as Patrice Bergeron carries in Boston, who takes tough matchups to free up David Krejci. Maurice said previously he hopes Lowry “will eventually develop into that player that plays against the other team’s best.”
The Jets historically leaned heavily on the Bryan Little line to match up against the other team’s top lines. However, now Maurice hopes that Lowry’s line will be able to do this as well.
Lowry last year did have moments where he was sent out defensively, but was predominately deployed in a sheltered role. Giving an experienced and highly effective winger like Burmistrov supports Lowry more than a rookie like Nic Petan or Nikolaj Ehlers.
However, the best fit is with the third piece, with Stafford.
Lowry and Burmistrov have historically impacted shot differentials in a very effective manner, especially in reducing shots against. Both though have struggled in scoring. Burmistrov in his two-year tenure with the Jets put up only 1.2 points for every sixty minutes of 5v5 ice time. Lowry last season put up an even lower pace with 1.1 point per sixty.
Stafford though has been the opposite.
Burmistrov performed like a fourth line player in scoring, but a second line player in promoting out shooting. Stafford can score like a second line player, but is out shot like a fourth line player.
Out shooting matters, as it predicts how a player is likely to out score opponents, even with “”perimeter”” players like Burmistrov and out scoring is more important than scoring. However, you still need finishing talent to bury the puck.
Stafford is a proven scorer. Expectations may be a tad overly high, as he scored at a 60 point pace with the Jets and is more of a 40-point-scorer talent. Still, that’s nearly double what Lowry produced last season, and Burmistrov’s NHL Equivalent to his KHL scoring is only somewhere around 30 to 35 points.
It’s not just in the numbers where the three fit well. There is a bit of harmony in the qualitative end as well. Stafford tends to hang high in the defensive zone, cheating assignments for offense. Burmistrov meanwhile does the exact opposite, cheating in the offensive zone almost playing as a third defender.
Either case can be frustrating to a degree, but the potential complement between these three offer the Jets an intriguing third line that may be used to take tough minutes, freeing up the young scorers like Nic Petan, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault, and Mark Schiefele.