5 bold predictions for the upcoming 2016-2017 Winnipeg Jets season
1) Patrik Laine wins the calder
Many people might have tunnel vision in regards to who will win this year’s calder trophy after Auston Matthews’ 4 goal debut, but don’t count Patrik Laine out of the race. Laine is a pure goal-scorer that will get ample opportunity in the Jets top six along with lots of time on the team’s power play. Laine has an NHL ready shot and offensive game that could win him the honours of the leagues best rookie and establish himself as one of the leagues most explosive players.
You could make the debate Laine is in the best environment of any rookie. Laine could play alongside Bryan Little for a good portion of the year as many project, but if he is alongside Mathieu Perreault or especially Mark Scheifele, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to shine as well.
Watch out for last springs IIHF world hockey championship MVP to have a stellar first season with the Jets and capture the calder trophy while he’s at it.
2) The Jacob Trouba holdout lasts a month
I have a hunch that this holdout will be resolved sometime in November.
Just some food for thought: Trouba’s agent Kurt Overhardt is no stranger to holdouts. Overhardt’s been involved in the holdouts of Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky and the Kyle Turris holdout which saw him sit out until November 22nd of the 2011 season. Trouba’s camp seems quite set on their stance and Kevin Cheveldayoff isn’t one to be bullied in to satisfying the demands of a disgruntled young player.
The point of the matter is, the Jets have all the leverage in this scenario. If Trouba won’t sign, the Jets can make him sit for as long as they want. Cheveldayoff’s asking price of a left handed defenseman with equal or more value is a pretty steep one and if he doesn’t cave on that, it looks like Trouba could be sitting the entire year unless Trouba is the one to cave and signs a bridge deal with the Jets.
It’s too unpredictable to forecast how this holdout ends, but I say it lasts a month with the end result either being traded or signing a bridge deal with the Jets.
3) Mark Scheifele leads the Jets in points
Mark Scheifele ended last year on quite the note. When the Jets number one centre Bryan Little went down for the year with an injury, not only did Scheifele fill the void left by Little’s absence, he established himself as the Jets number one centre. Scheifele finished last season with 34 points in his final 26 games. In fact, dating back to February 18th until the conclusion of last season, Mark Scheifele led the entire NHL in points.
Scheifele looks to continue that type of scoring on the top line with Nikolaj Ehlers and recently named captain, Blake Wheeler. The trio’s chemistry was apparent at the end of last season and the three will form the team’s top line.
Number 55 could certainly lead the team in points as the team’s number one centre seems poised for a break out year. If you play fantasy hockey, you should buy high on Mark Scheifele, he’ll certainly hit the 30 goal plateau and I think he’ll eclipse the 70 point mark, if he stays healthy.
4) Connor Hellebuyck finishes top 10 in goaltender statistics
Next season Connor Hellebuyck could end up being not just the Jets best goaltender, but amongst one of best in the entire NHL. In the 26 games that Hellebuyck suited up with the Jets last season, his even strength save percentage of .940 ranked first in 5 on 5 save percentage in the NHL. His 13-11-0 record may not stand out, but the way he played in comparison to the Jets other net minders last season displays volumes heading in to this season.
2015-2016 5 on 5 goalie stats
Hellebuyck is not only the goalie of the future, but now with the demotion of long-time starter Ondrej Pavelec, he’s the goalie of the present. The Jets prized young goaltender could enter the league with a bang if the Jets improve their special teams. Hellebuyck’s save percentage last season was a .918, quite the considerable drop from the .940 he had in even strength situations.
The decline is largely in part to the Jets 25th ranked penalty kill. With the Jets penalty killing unit looking to be much stronger with the addition of Brandon Tanev and other speedy forwards, Hellebuyck’s game as a whole could improve and in virtue of that, he could produce numbers that place him in the top 10 of all goaltenders.
5) The Jets make the playoffs
The final bold prediction may not be so bold. If the Jets young talent delivers this season like many think they are capable of, the Jets should have no issue squeaking in to the playoffs. Winnipeg is a well coached team with plenty of speed and skill equipped with veteran nucleus of Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien to help show the kids the way.
I say the Jets make the playoffs and are a pretty exciting team to watch this season, what do you think?
Let us know on twitter at @NHLJetsNation,