The Jets are one of nine teams right now that don’t have a captain heading in to next season. Since the Andrew Ladd trade, there has been many different takes on who should be the Jets next captain. Will the Jets go with a seasoned veteran that has been with the franchise since it’s move to Winnipeg? Or will the Jets opt to stitch the ‘C’ on to a younger player that looks to be a part of the teams core for the long run?
Here are a few names that should be in the conversation for captain.
After a career year that saw him eclipse the 60 point plateau, Scheifele has emerged as a complete player and a leader for the Winnipeg Jets. Scheifele came in to the league as a slim built player with lots of skill but was lacking in other areas of his game. In his first three NHL seasons, he has improved in both ends of the ice and bulked up all the while increasing his offensive production year after year.
I wasn’t crazy about Scheifele as an option for captain, thinking that he could he be too young for the responsibility. But teams are trending in a younger direction regarding captaincy’s, which makes sense. Gabriel Landeskog and Sidney Crosby were named their respective teams captain’s when they were only 19-years-old. Jonathan Toews was named captain of the Blackhawks at 20 and Detroit Red Wings legend took on the reigns of captain at 21.
Scheifele is 23-years-old and it won’t be long before he is looked as a veteran on this young Jets team. The Jets younger core of prospects and younger players are starting to take over the Jets roster. With a new era of Jets 2.0 beginning, the Jets could look to a player that will undobutly be there long term. If the Jets want to give the ‘C’ to a younger player, Scheifele is the obvious choice.
The obvious choice as captain for many is Blake Wheeler. There are a lot of likeable attributes that jump off the page when examining Wheeler.
First off, he’s the Jets best player night in and night out. Despite his team at the bottom of the standings for the majority of last season, Wheeler went on to have a career season with 78 points ( tied for sixth most in the league). Wheeler is a firm believer in winning and he shows it every night. He plays with emotion and most importantly, he leads by example.
A captain should be someone that their peers look up to, Wheeler exemplifies the hard working style that coaches love and is contagious to his teammates. Wheeler has become one of the best players in the NHL and he can get his team going in a heartbeat.
Wheeler may be the most viable candidate right now, but what about long term? Wheeler is only on the Jets payroll for another three seasons and due to the fact that there are no promises he’ll sign another contract; the Jets could end up looking elsewhere when naming a captain.
The reality is, in three years one would hope the Jets will be contenders and there is a good chance they will be but in the even that they are not, a free agent like Wheeler would certainly be interested in finding a place where he has a chance to win. His long term future with the Jets may be the only con to giving Wheeler the ‘C’, otherwise he looks like a pretty solid option.
Byfuglien is this teams leader already, no question about it. Byfuglien is the leader of the pack and his impact on the ice is immeasurable. He can change the games pace with a big hit, a slap shot from the point or by getting chippy between the whistles.
Byfuglien is an attractive option for captain from the outside looking in. But digging deeper, it appears that Byfuglien wouldn’t be a fan of the responsibility. Byfuglien was an assistant captain during the Jets inaugural season, but asked for the responsibilities to be cleared off his plate after the season was complete.
Byfuglien doesn’t need a letter to assert himself as the teams leader and because of that, he may see no need to have one. The duties of a captain such as the off-ice duties and constant media interaction may be too much for ‘Big Buff’. That being said, he is still a viable candidate for captain.