What to expect from each Jet player at the World Cup?

 

The World Cup of hockey is soon underway and if you’re a Jets fan, there’s many reasons to watch the tournament.  Winnipeg has players on 4 of the tournaments 8 teams and have 7 players in total competing. The tournament is a showcase of the world’s best talents going head to head in a format that is much more exciting and unique than the traditional olympic format. 

The introduction of team North America and team Europe may take away a sense of patriotism from the tournament, but an extra layer of talent and excitement added in to the fold can only be a positive.

While most of the 7 Jets players have prominent roles in the NHL, some may have to take a backseat and take different roles in the star studded tournament and others will be counted on to take on big roles in the exhibition tournament.

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What should you expect from each of the Jets players that are in the tournament? 

Dustin Byfuglien- Team USA 

Projected Role: Back on defense where he belongs. 

It really makes no sense why Dustin Byfuglien was placed at forward for Team USA’s 3-2 exhibition victory against team Finland. While the Byfuglien at forward experiment has been tried before, Byfuglien is now an elite defenseman and no longer a defensive liability, there is no need to move him to forward. While Team USA head coach John Tortarella’s shortcomings of offensive talent to work with is apparent, putting Byfuglien on the fourth line for 10 minutes of ice time isn’t going to help anyone. It also substantially limits the productivity and ice time one of their best players will have. 

When putting Byfgulien up front, Tortarella stated that the team wasn’t going to put Byfuglien in front of the net, instead they were trying to gear Number 33 towards shooting the puck more. Which makes even less sense considering Byfuglien’s booming shot is an asset on the point and if the hulking  6’5, 260 pound defender is going to be moved up front, why not put him in front of the net? 

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It didn’t make much sense for Byfuglien to have a stint up front and you should expect for him to return on the back end where he belongs. Byfgulien could be used in a top pairing role for Team USA and likely a spot on the team’s number one power play unit. 

Blake Wheeler- Team USA

Projected Role: Middle six forward

The Jets captain will likely project in a second or third line role for team USA. The speedy winger is coming off a career year in which he recorded 78 points in a full 82 game season. Wheeler’s size and speed will be needed by Team USA and counted upon in mid-level minutes. During the preliminary round, Wheeler averaged 13:09 of ice time during the three games he suited up for which is just about average among team USA’s forwards. 

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Ondrej Pavelec- Czech Republic 

Projected Role: Third goalie

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Barring injury to Michal Neuwirth and Petr Mrazek, you likely wont be seeing much of Ondrej Pavelec in this years tournament. Pavelec has been declared Czech Republic’s third goaltender and won’t be suited up for competition. This should come to no surprise as Michal Neuwirth and Petr Mrazek are clearly better goaltender’s and quite frankly, on a different level than Pavelec. 

Connor Hellebuyck- Team North America

Projected Role: Third goalie

Experience will likely beat out Connor Hellebuyck for any opportunity between the pipes. Hellebuycky’s fellow puck stoppers are Matt Murray ( won the Stanely Cup last June) and John Gibson ( 66 games of NHL experience) and each will likely dress for North America as Hellebuyck sits in the press box. This is no knack on Hellebuyck who by all means is one of the leagues most talented up and coming  goalies, but Gibson and especially Murray present a much safer option to team North America than Hellebuyck does. 

Mark Scheifele- Team North America

Projected Role: Top line winger

Mark Scheifele will likely be skating on the wing for the tournament, despite being one of the teams best centreman. Scheifele was 4 for 5 in the face-off dot against Anze Kopitar, one of the leagues best face-off men and in total finished 8 of 13 on draws when North America faced off against team Europe. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are locks down the middle and it’s no surprise Sean Couturier is going to be used in a shut down role. It’s probably much more useful to have Scheifele playing top six winger minutes than a bottom six centre role where he wouldn’t see as much ice time. 

Jacob Trouba- Team North America

Projected Role: TBD 

Time will tell on what kind and how big of an impact Jacob Trouba will have with North America. Trouba was a healthy scratch in Team North America’s preliminary round finale against the Czech Republic. Team North America’s defensive corpse is deep and Trouba not getting in to the lineup isn’t a negative on him, but rather a compliment to the depth the team has. In the preliminary rounds different combinations are going to be tested and different lineups are going to be looked at.

It’s really hard to tell what capacity Trouba will be used in and it likely will come down to a game by game basis to see what role he steps in to on that night.

Patrik Laine- Team Finland

Projected Role: Top line winger

18 year old Patrik Laine should have no problem making himself visible in the World Cup of hockey. He’ll have ample opportunity to shine in a likely top line winger role. On a team stacked with talent all throughout the lineup, Laine has still found a way in the preliminary rounds to emerge as one of the team’s best players. 

Jets fans should keep a close eye on Finland as Laine’s electric play could elevate his country in the tournament and better yet, show signs of promise for the NHL season. 

  • Hank_Mardukas

    Is it just me or have the coaching staff and media of team North America made this tournament only about McDavid and Matthews? If Scheifele were to score 4 goals in a game the coach and media will only be talking about McDavid and how to shake up the lines to get him going, or how Matthews can play with pros. In a way it’s nice to see the Jets represented but sad they are not allowed to really play a decent role on their teams. Liane and Wheeler are the only player that are getting a chance to play their positions and game.

  • Hank_Mardukas

    It is not really a surprise. Connor M is the future generational player. Matthews is owned by Toronto. I’m relieved that Connor M is not a leaf. I am also to happy to see more and more of our players getting considered as the best in the NHL. That would not have been the case 5 years ago.