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 2nd line.
Receiving secondary scoring outside of the their top line has always been a bit difficult for the Jets. Paul Maurice though is hoping for a big year from the second line in producing that supportive offense.
All three forwards are fairly gifted players in terms of skill, but they each have their own questions surrounding them as well.
For a long while Mathieu Perreault has been an underrated offensive threat. The 5’10 skilled forward has been one of the highest pacing point per minute scorers, but injuries and ice time deployment severely suppressed his totals.
Perreault scored at 2.01 points per 60 minutes for 5v5 situations, and 2.44 over all minutes combined. These two point paces were second and the highest for all players that dressed as Jets at some point last season.
Despite playing on the third line often, Perreault had the highest point per game pace after the Jets top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler, and the highly inflated production of Drew Stafford.
Unlike Stafford, Perreault’s even strength production may have been deflated. Perreault’s 2.01 point per sixty rate is the lowest since five seasons ago, in his sophomore season. The previous three seasons Perreault was the 18th highest 5v5 point producer per minute, pacing at 2.34 points per sixty minutes. He out produced names like Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal, Claude Giroux, John Tavares, David Krejci, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton.
Perreault’s also found a home playing at the blueline as a power play specialist, paired with elite man-advantage producer Dustin Byfuglien.
The one real question with Perreault is his health. Perreault has yet to play more than 69 games in the NHL, which limits his impact. Relative to ice time, Perreault is just outside of the elite regions, but health and deployment have really held him back.
Mark Scheifele improved his point production, jumping from a 44 point per 82 game pace to a 49 point pace.
His 5v5 point pace actually fell somewhat despite putting up more points. Many Jet fans will remember Scheifele penchant for just missing the net or hitting the post when aiming for the corners. Scheifele’s shooting percentage fell steeply, as did his secondary assists, both of which are highly variance impacted.
Scheifele made up for this point production fall through the power play. 2013-2014 Scheifele scored at a very pedestrian pace, but doubled that production last season.
While the true Scheifele may be somewhere in the middle, we should expect his scoring numbers to improve over time. The PCS model suggests that players that have scored like Scheifele tend to average 52 point per 82 games over their career.
The biggest question mark though is Nikolaj Ehlers.
There is no doubting the pure skill that oozes from Ehlers, but the NHL is a league of its own in competition levels and there will be a learning curve for the young forward.
Luckily Maurice has constructed two lines, centred by Adam Lowry and Bryan Little, that he feels safe with taking tough minutes thus allowing him to shelter the younger scoring winger.
There is the possibility that Ehlers starts off slow, like Jonathan Drouin last season, but there is some promise in the numbers as well.
The PCS model looks at how a player is likely to perform over the rest of their career, but it does give some insight to what type of player Ehlers scores like. At the ceiling we see elite scorers like Mike Bossy, Denis Savard, Mark Recchi, and Claude Giroux, while Ehlers’ statistical floor looks like PA Parenteau, Geoff Sanders, Jeff O`Neill or Darcy Tucker.
Unlike PCS, NHL Equivalent production does estimate a player’s most probable production for the next season. NHLEs estimates Ehlers to score 44 points over a full season, which would be comparable to Mark Scheifele’s 20-year-old pace in 2013-2014.
There’s always the possibility of more though, especially if Ehlers gets to play large minutes with a elite point producer like Mathieu Perreault.
While the line of Perreault, Scheifele, and Ehlers may need some help staying away from tough match ups, they do have some impressive scoring potential and an incredibly high ceiling. If Maurice can shelter them on the road, they could end up with a similar impact like that the 2014-2015 St. Louis Blues had with the Tarasenko line or the Tampa Bay Lightning with the Johnson line.