With the 2015-16 Winnipeg Jets’ season coming to an end, there are some mixed emotions going around Jets Nation.
There is certainly a sense of disappointment with how the season went for the Jets. After making the playoffs last season for just the second time in franchise history, it finally seemed like this franchise was going in the right direction. Even though they were swept in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks and were still left looking for the franchise’s first playoff win, there was a lot of hope and excitement heading into the 2015-16 season.
However, Jets brass opted to go with a youth movement over the off season and chose not to bring back their veteran depth players, such has Michael Frolik, Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty. They were replaced with rookies such as Nik Ehlers, Joel Armia and Andrew Copp, as well as bringing back Alex Burmistrov from the KHL.
Any time you go with a youth movement, there will certainly be growing pains. While the young guns ultimately performed well, the lack of experience and inconsistency was ultimately the Jets undoing this season. The Winnipeg Jets ended up finishing the season last in the central division and 25th overall in the NHL.
The Jets were actually a fairly strong team 5-on-5, finishing in the top half in the league in SAT differential and SAT% 5-on-5. Their biggest weaknesses were by far their special teams, as well as a bit of inconsistency in goaltending.
Ondrej Pavalec overall had a decent season, but one night he would be lights out and swiss cheese the next. Michael Hutchinson never seemed to find his groove, and Connor Hellebuyck was fantastic until they ultimately returned him to the Manitoba Moose once Pavelec returned from injury.
The Jets season may have been very different if they had even competent special teams. Their penalty kill ranked 25th in the league while their power play ranked dead last.
Yes. Dead last. Meaning even worse than the Maple Leafs.
It’s something that absolutely must be addressed in the off season, whether that’s bringing in new blood to fix the special teams, or just scrap the current play book and go back to the drawing board completely.
Still, despite the disappointment of the season, there is reason for optimism and excitement heading into the off season and into next season.
The Jets finished the season very strong, winning their last four games (all against top playoff teams) and collecting nine out of a possible ten points in their last five. Showing that if they play the right way, they can compete with any team in the NHL.
The Jets’ rookies from this season will not be rookies anymore. The likes of Ehlers, Armia, Copp and Hellebuyck will all head into next season with a full year of NHL experience under their belts and look to improve on strong seasons. Players such as Josh Morrissey, Scott Kasmachuk and Chase De Leo all received some NHL experience as well. The Jets have also signed top prosepct Kyle Connor to an entry level contract and we may see him suit up for the Jets sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Jets will be a playoff team next season, it’s much too early to determine that. There will certainly be moves made in the off season and we will have to see what this team looks like heading into training camp in September.
However, I don’t believe this team is as far off as some people may think.
If the Jets can improve their special teams to at least competent levels next season, add some bottom six scoring depth to their forward group, make Connor Hellebuyck an NHL regular and somehow figure out a way to fire Mark Stuart into the sun, the Jets will most likely find themselves battling for a playoff spot next season.
What do you guys think? How would you evaluate this season? What was good/bad? What moves would you like to see happen in the off season? Let us know @JetsNation and @Vincanity18 about your opinions on the 2015-16 season, the off season and what you would like to see here on the report card during the off season.
For now, here is the report card: