Jets Nation Report Card: Jets Possibly Showing Signs of Things to Come

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:

  • BuffsBetter

    Disappointing season as far as the standings go but great for the development of some youth. The draft is the easiest and most sensible ($) way to acquire elite talent, the kind of talent the team was lacking when it moved here. Don’t get me wrong I think Little and Enstrom are very good and Ladd, Wheeler, Buff and Kane were very good talents with size but they’re not as elite as say Ehlers, Connor, Scheifele and a possible top 3 pick from this summers draft. Now add all those guys together (except for Ladd and Kane) and throw in Myers, Perrault, Trouba, hellebuyck and 5 other good, fast young guys. Going forward, if it were up to me I’d get what I could for Stafford and Mark Stuart. Considering the deals Toronto’s Kadri and Reilly took (4.5 and 5 million annually) I think that bodes well for the Jets with Scheifele and Trouba (more so Trouba, cuz Scheifele is way better than Kadri) I think that could leave the Jets with room to squeeze in Okposo and Yandle. I would try for this seeing as all the young talent we’ve stock piled is on cheap ELCs so why not go for it and show the young guns how winning is done.

    • BuffsBetter

      Quick rebuttal…
      Wheeler is an elite level power forward, there is very few players in any that move like him at 6’5 225. Buff is an elite defense-man, since the return of the Jets he is top 10 in points by a defense-man, if not top 5.

      To say anyone on the Jets 15/16 roster isn’t as elite as Connor makes no sense, he hasn’t even played a game yet.

      Stafford was a place keeper, why we paid him a little more to keep the term at 2 years. He should be moved at the trade deadline. Watching him play defense is painful.

      Stuart has a no-move clause, married a True North employee, is paid 2.6 million, and is a horrible defense-man, as well seems to be loved by the organization… unfortunately probably not going anywhere. But we can dream.

      Scheifele should get a contract comparable to Barkov from Florida. Trouba well statistically a better player than Reilly( when he is away from Stuart ), hopefully will get a contract with a AAV between 4 – 4.5 over 6 years, similar to Maata ( Spelling? ). 5 AAV is the max I’d be willing to give him.

      Yandle isn’t a big enough upgrade compared to what would be required to sign him, nor is he what we need. If Trouba plays LD, we have a top 10 top 4 if not better. On top of that if Trouba gets 4.5, we have 26.975 Million in our defense, we don’t need to add more to that number.

      Okposo, we have a better power forward in Wheeler. He is not what we need, we need a finisher. A lethal wrist shot to feed on the PP, to close out tight games. We have 3 players, all at different stages to fill that roll.

      Scheifele, last year was a half inch off hitting at minimum 20 goals. Amazing snap shot. Ehlers, while having a deadly shot, probably serves better being a set up man for Scheif. His vision, and ability with the puck is astounding for a first year player. But in reality it should end up being Connor.

      We don’t need any high priced additions. Chevy has managed his cap well, he has the ability to sign his draft picks this off season, which is impressive. Cap management is huge, what good is drafting stars, or finding steals if you can’t sign them.

  • BuffsBetter

    Vinnie,

    This season was exactly what this team needed! It allowed the organization to evaluate its talent. This was the first season with True North markings. They say it takes 5 years to properly evaluate a draft, it shouldn’t be any different for our franchise. While the front office has had some misses, i feel they have proven themselves to be one of the best scouting ( and in extension drafting ) front offices in the league. Everything up to this point was a place holder, to be some what competitive while drafting and developing players they chose. But, because that step was made this past season the real challenge begins.

    I see things just as you. 5v5, we are, and have been for a few seasons a top team. Which is a very good judge of skill.

    This season though…. ugh, finishing 25th on the PK… is very misleading. We were bottom of the league for a vast majority of the season, this paired with being one of the most penalized teams was our downfall. The changes made in the latter 3rd of the season… ( Allowing the bottom 6 to kill, which in turn allows the top 6 to focus their energy on offense, and Stu’s absence ) turned out PK around in comparison. I will never understand how Stuart, the statistically worst penalty killer in the league managed the be one of the top minute getters. ( Embrace the Tank ? )

    Looking at our 5v5 stats, if this team could maintain a middle of the pack PK, and PP.. That alone would probably result in being part of the playoff race.

    The PP, in fairness our PP1 unit of Wheeler, Scheif, Ehlers did well. Our PP2 unit had no right being a PP2 unit. ( I am ignoring the first half of the season here, because well those PP units have been a problem for a while and it’s been beaten to death ). If the EEElectric line can keep it up, add Little, Connor, and MP on the 2nd unit. That should at the least put our PP middle of the pack. Burmi, and Co is not a viable PP unit.

    The PK, it worked with the young guys out there. It gives them minutes, and gives them something to be proud of. They have the freshest legs. For the love of every hockey god ever, keep Stuart off the PK. Blocked shots are not the sign of a courageous defender, they are the sign of a player who never has the puck.

    Add Helle in net, even at minimum 41 games. Like you said, if the PP and PK can get to league average this is a competitive hockey team.

    Secondary scoring has been a burden on this team since their reincarnation. We should not have that issue going forward.

    In my opinion, our greatest addition this off season would be subtraction. I am ok with Thorburn on the 4th line, but that is it. I am however not ok with Stuart anywhere on the ice. Great guy, just not his game anymore.

    Vinnie, If we hold the 6th pick… assuming Matthews, and the Finns go 1 – 2 – 3, Dubios goes 4th/5th and Chychrun goes 5th/4th. Who do you draft?
    I personally like Juolevi over every forward outside the top 4.

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      BuffsBetter,

      There’s no question the Jets have done very well with scouting and drafting. IMO, they have one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL.

      The PK did improve toward the end of the season, but the fact that it did improve and they still finished 25th shows you how bad it was for most of the season. I think it had partly to do with the fact that maybe Maurice didn’t have trust in the young players in the bottom six to kill penalties at first, so he had his vets in the top six kill them which would def tire them out. You don’t want your top six guys wasting energy on the PK. Some minutes on the PK, sure, but not all the PK time.

      But it all goes back to point about lack of depth. Same thing with the PP. You’re absolutely right that the PP1 unit was stacked while the PP2 was an AHL PP unit. The young kids getting experience this year was huge, like you said, and that will help with some of their depth issues next season.

      As far as what Miles said about adding guys like Okposo and Yandle, I would steer clear. Both are good players but are also getting up their in age and are certainly not worth what they are getting paid. Just because the Jets will have cap space this season doesn’t mean you throw it away. You’re going to have guys like Trouba and Scheifele that will need HUGE pay raises next year. I’ve never been a fan of making huge splashes in free agency (unless it’s a franchise players like a Steven Stamkos). If the Jets go to FA, they should look for just some one or two year fillers for cheap, ala the New Jersey Devils this past season.

      As far as the draft goes, I believe your right that Matthews will go one and then Pullajarvi and Laine will go 2/3 or vice versa. 4-10 is kind of a crapshoot. It’s all guys who have elite level talent but have certain things they need to work on before being NHL ready. If we keep it the way you say with Duboit going 4th (which is where I think he’ll end up going) and Chychrun going 5th, I’d take a look at a few different players. I feel like the Jets need some more high-end prospects on defense. After Morrissey, the talent level falls off dramatically. I do like Juolevi a lot. I also like Charles McAvoy out of BU. If Chychrun happens to be available for the Jets, I would take a hard look at him as well. If the Jets were to take a forward, I would lean toward Tkachuk.

      We’d have to see how it plays out, but either way, the Jets will get a very good player at 6.

      Unless they win the lottery of course 😉

  • ground control

    I agree with many if not all the above points. I’m very excited to see the influx of skill and speed in the forward group. It appears the Jets are trying to emulate teams like the blackhawks or the lightning, teams that are fast, skilled and feature lots of play making. If that’s the strategy of the team going forward then I’m all for it. I’d much rather watch a game that has lots of skating passing and quick transitions. Although dumping the puck in, chasing it, grinding it out in the corners may be an effective strategy it is hardly what one would call entertaining hockey.

    I’m also looking forward to training camp, as there has never been so much competition for available spots. Apart from maybe 10 players it is really difficult to predict who will play in what spot. So here’s to the 2016-17 Jets!

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    They have Dmen coming out of their collective yingyang…the only thing missing is a left shooting D which (Morrissey, but he may be a ways away…if he EVER gets there!) could be easily remedied via a trade…But our resident genius Gman refuses to go that route unless forced to. You just shouldn’t have 4 rightshooting Dman in your top 6 ! There are teams out there that would kill for a top 6 rightshot Dman !!

    The one thing I have to agree with, is your PP & PK will get better with better players. You can’t be the Toronto Maple Leafs and expect to have the #1 PP…or the Edmonton Oilers and expect to have the #1 PK…

    Tanev, Dano, Lipon, Petan battling with Armia, Lemieux, this year’s 1st pick and Kyle Connor definitely adds to their youth talent but a playoff team still needs VETERAN experience (and GOOD veteran talent not like…mmmm…let’s say…STAFFORD !) …I’d say Kyle Connor is a given next year to replace Ladd but having Stafford in there too would be the anchor…you need another power forward on that line… Mathew Tkachuk would be a Godsend but failing that…Lowry would be an ideal replacement…

    Ok…so sending out:

    Ehlers, Schiefele, Wheeler

    Connor, Little, Lowry

    Lemieux, Copp, Armia

    for example…now you’ve got some speed AND size on every line…

    Perrault is talented but small, and Stafford can’t defend well, but put those 2 with Burmi and you have 4 pretty good lines

    All is for naught without goaltending…and for the life of me, I can’t believe our Gman’s planning to resign Hutchinson…That tells me they’re planning on having the same 2 (WRETCH!) next year…what is the logic here ??…

    The same logic that refuses to trade from a position of strength

    • BuffsBetter

      What Dmen prospects do we have? We have 3, 1 isn’t even signed, 1 is a bottom 4 guy, and the other isn’t NHL ready. We have a glut of forwards, which usually tend to join the league a lot earlier than Dmen. You draft dmen this year, they are not ready for the NHL for another year, more likely 2-3 years.

      Enstrom, no matter what anyone wants to think they see, is a very good defender. He helps make up for Myers short comings. Trouba – Buff is an elite pairing.

      The goal is to ice your best lineup, if that means having 4 right shooting dmen what does that matter? Myers has a no-trade, as does Buff.

      I can’t take what you say about our defense seriously, as it seems to be hearsay as opposed to fact based. But do appreciate your rebuttal.

  • FishWhiskey

    How about a little love for Nic Petan? Vinnie never mentioned him in the post. I saw a very real improvement in his game out there this year and the one game they put him on the top line with Wheeler and Shiefs he looked fantastic. Also I think that he was a factor in the Jets PP looking up at the end of the season. It would be great fun to see a pre-season test line of Petan, Ehlers and Connor. Put out Buff and Trouba as blue line cannons and some serious fun could ensue!

    • BuffsBetter

      I did not mention Petan. I feel much shame for this.

      I’ve been an advocate of Petan all season too, so I can’t believe I failed to mention him.

      I was upset when the Jets sent him back to Manitoba because I thought he was playing very well. He certainly has much he needs to improve on yet, but he’s also going to be an important part of the Jets’ future.

  • FishWhiskey

    No worries Vinnie. Your posts are bang on and much appreciated. Especially the suggestion of firing Stuart into the sun. I was watching a Jets vs Predators broadcast on a Nashville station and the broadcasters said teams around the league were starting to game plan plays to take advantage of Stuarts weak play. On another broadcast out of Chicago they used Stuarts play as video examples of how not to play defence. I’m sure he is a great guy but he is tanking the team and making the Jets a laughing stock.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    Vinnie Criscenzo wrote:
    ” I feel like the Jets need some more high-end prospects on defense. After Morrissey, the talent level falls off dramatically.”

    Hey Vinnie !…Heyyy…
    “…Falls off dramatically” ?????

    So Dprospects like: Tucker Poolman, Jan Kostalek, Brendan Kichton, Nogier, never mind Ben Chairot just fall off a cliff ?

    Jacob Trouba’s STILL just a prospect…

    What’s the definition of “D prospect” in new Jersey ? Paul (Green Mile) Coffey ??

    I think you guys are getting confused about the Jets’ defense…but maybe that’s just because Jet management for some inexplicable reason keeps putting out the absolute worst rendition of a dman that the NHL has ever undoubtably gasped at

    Fact is…Jets are swimming in Dmen AND D prospects. Yes an Lshooting top 6 would be ideal… but ideal NOW !…not 5 years from now !

    C’mon…

    What the Jets are sadly lacking in at the moment are power forwards…you know…?…guys that can skate (without constantly falling) THROUGH people not around them…

    After Blake Wheeler &…*ahem*…Adam Lowry…(although Thorburn is probably better at it than Lowry which should pretty much spell it out) …

    When it comes to power forwards the Jets FALL OFF A CLIFF !

    Heyyy Vinnie…C’mon…heyyy…

    • Struggling_A_Lot

      #12MorrisLukowich,

      I agree with you on the depth on D, the Jets have plenty! The only problem with all the prospects you mentioned is that they are all right handed defenceman. Maybe if we traded one or two for a left handed defenceman then maybe people would be happier.

      Also I wouldn’t say that the Jets have no power forward prospects on the way. Lemieux is considered a power forward and has a high probability to make the NHL one day. Another prospect I could see become a power forward is JC Lipon as he has a very hard nosed game. But then it drops off after that so if the Jets get the chance to draft a power forward *cough* Tkachuk *cough* I would say go for it.

      Otherwise draft BPA (Best Player Available). We can always get a solid LD with our second first round pick. In example we could either get a solid puck moving defenceman in Samuel Girard or get a stalwart on defence in Logan Stanley or Libor Hajek

    • FishWhiskey

      Hey? Hey is for horses.

      The Jets do have defensive depth, and maybe “dramatically” is too harsh of a word.

      Significantly? Is that a better term?

      Morrissey has the skill to possibly be a top pairing defenseman in the NHL. I just don’t see that from the other prospects.

      And I don’t count Trouba in that category. Yes, he’s still young and technically a prospect, but he’s an NHL regular and established and he’s only going to get better. Trouba is the real deal.

      Chiarot I also don’t count in that category. He’s become an NHL regular this season and he’s a solid depth defenseman for the Jets.

      Kostalek should be an NHL regular one day, I really like him.

      Kichton has potential but I’m no quite sold on him yet. Right now he seems like a one trick pony in the offensive zone.

      Nogier? His draft profile says his ceiling could be that of a Dan Girardi type player. I’m not sure if you’ve watched much of Girardi, but he’s a tire fire. He’s basically a glorified Mark Stuart. Hard pass. He could turn out to be a competent Dan Girardi though, so we’ll wait and see.

      Poolman is versatile as he’s played both defense and forward (a la Buff), but he hasn’t found his niche yet. Do you use him at forward? Is he good enough to play defense at the NHL level? Don’t know yet.

      All I’m saying is, after Morrissey, you have a lot of question marks, that’s all. I’m not saying these guys won’t pan out either. It just wouldn’t hurt to add some more insurance on defense and possibly add a guy that could be a top pair guy along with Trouba.

      That’s just my humble opinion though. All these guys could turn out to be All-Stars and make me look like an idiot. We just have to wait and see.

      That being said, you are absolutely right about the lack of power forwards. I was actually just talking about this with a friend of mine. After Blake Wheeler, you’ve got Lowry(?) and Lemiuex. That’s about it. Matthew Tkachuk would definitely help with that.

      By the way, just want to say thanks for all the comments guys. Doesn’t matter if we agree or not, what matters is you guys show us that you’re passionate about this team like us and we live for that. So, Thank you.

    • BuffsBetter

      A prospect is someone who doesn’t play full time in the NHL. Once you make that jump you are no longer a prospect. Trouba is going on his 4th year, no longer a prospect. Apart from Trouba, and Morrissey none, not one of your defensemen are considered difference makers. Poolman isn’t signed, and might not. kostalek looks like a solid 3-4 guy, i wish i had as much optimism for our defensive prospect as you, but i choose to look at stats, as opposed to living in a dream world.

      Our Top 4 is perfect right now, but in 4 – 5 years when Buff and Myers need to move down the lineup who will replace them? It takes time to develop defensive talent.

      We are one of the biggest teams in the league, tallest, and youngest. That means that generally we will get bigger, as our younger guys age. We do not need power forwards, we need a finisher. Someone who can score when it matters, not another 20 goal scorer that forces goals rather than create them.

      I for one am happy you do not run this team, I support Chevy. Am happy with almost every move he has made, and choose to see the big picture as opposed to the near cited one.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    StrugglingALot wrote:

    “Otherwise draft BPA (Best Player Available). We can always get a solid LD with our second first round pick. In example we could either get a solid puck moving defenceman in Samuel Girard or get a stalwart on defence in Logan Stanley or Libor Hajek”

    and Heyyy Vinnie wrote:
    “All I’m saying is, after Morrissey, you have a lot of question marks, that’s all. I’m not saying these guys won’t pan out either. It just wouldn’t hurt to add some more insurance on defense and possibly add a guy that could be a top pair guy along with Trouba.”

    Once again…I couldn’t disagree more

    You just can’t keep drafting the “best player available” and hope it all works out ala Edmonton Oilers

    A responsible organization SHOULD draft to fill holes as well ala Red Wings, Chicago, St.Louis…all (most) picks were low in the draft and targeted and guess what…?

    Another hole to fill in the Jet organization is at center !

    Little is getting up there, Scheifele is emerging but after that…to coin a phrase…they “fall off a cliff”

    BEFORE another Dman is picked I’d rather see an attempt to fill that void like a 6’6″ Logan Brown or a talented German Rubstov and/or a 6’5″ Tage Thompson..

    With Myers, Buff, Trouba & Enstrom, Chairot, Morrissey (on the way) and the rest….just how many Dmen does one need ?

    You think centerman are overrated or what ?

    • Struggling_A_Lot

      Petan is a center, Copp is another one. There’s also Harkins and Roslovic. I’m not saying not to draft centers, it’s just currently not the thing the Jets need the most. And the thing with our defense is that they are the ones who are the oldest. Buff, Stu and Enstrom are all in their 30s already so we need to prepare to replace them.

      But again, if the Jets pick one of the three defenceman in the top 10 of the draft than I agree that they should draft a center (Tage Thompson is my preference up to now). But if they do draft a forward than I say go for defence

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    @Buffsbetter…
    “…near cited one…?” cute…

    Our “glut” of NEW forwards are getting smaller if you haven’t noticed…Tanev, Dano, Petan and outside of Lemieux & Lipon (1 will play both will NOT), continue to shrink…is that what you meant by “getting taller”?

    Hardly a recipe for success in the CENTRAL!!!

    You sure seem pretty confident in your disability…
    YES Dmen take longer to mature..so let’s see…Trouba (still maturing), Chairot (still maturing), Postma (depth D but still maturing), Melchiori (maturing but probably never play)

    prospects: Poolman (you have no idea what you’re talking about…do you?)
    Kostelek, Morrissey, Niku, Karlstrom are LEGITIMATE prospects that will take YEARS to develop

    Now let’s look at center…
    DeLeo, Petan, Roslovic, Harkins…sorry…perhaps YOU can think these are legitimate center prospects (maybe Roslovic) but realistically PHTTTTT….

    Am I wrong? (don’t even bother) or is the stable of centers pretty much empty..?

    A left shooting D is a MUST but Chevy & Co. have passed on 1 on many occasion and to bring in yet another Dprospect when you can TRADE for a legitimate 1 is just bordering on stupidity especially with with so many expendables

    An NHL GM…let me reiterate: an N-H-L GM ! targets what he needs and goes after it. It’s virtually impossible (or totally ridiculous) to expect 90 -100% of your prospects to make the NHL…less than 1% of AHL players will play 100 games in the NHL (thank-you Garrett)..so what does that tell you ?…probably nothing

    “potential” means: as of right now they suck but we’re hoping they won’t in the future…and the Jets have plenty of potential…

    What they need are proven players…and THAT my friend is something Chevy hasn’t been able to do for going on 6 years (Kane was a must trade and Chevy was lucky beyond the stars to find a sucker to take Bogo’s ridiculous contract, tendered by your’s truly,off his hands)

    I can give you a book on the bad FA signings and draft trades given up for CR@p that Chevy has made and only 1…yes that’s right ONE good trade and ONE good FA signing in 6 years.

    Just use his last example… the Andrew Ladd trade was a complete BUST ! it needlessly disrupted the team by taking so long and since he waited till the trade deadline EVERY team knew he HAD to sell him. If Chevy traded Ladd in October he could have gotten much better results since lower teams would’ve LOVED to get a top 6 LW…. a 1st rounder (higher pick) would’ve been the starter and a roster player AND a prospect was in order for a top 6…C’mon!…

    Drafting & developing is a big part of the equation…it’s NOT the sum of all parts…just a PART….