The 2016-17 season has ended for the Jets and they have some weaknesses that need to be addressed. Addressing these three areas should give the Jets the ability to take the next step and start giving fans confidence in management again.
The Jets have been mediocre on the power play and have struggled mightily on the penalty kill.
The Jets finished 18th in the league with a powerplay conversion rate of 18.2 percent. But, the powerplay needs to be better if the Jets want to have greater success next season. The Jets have more than enough fire power to make half the league jealous and they are about to tee off at the golf course. Ironically, the Jets had a better powerplay than some playoff teams (Blackhawks, Senators and Sharks).
Some suggestions for fixing the powerplay would start with utilizing Patrik Laine better on the powerplay. Put him in the so-called “Ovechkin spot” around the left side “face-off” dot, it makes too much sense not to. As well, it would be nice to see someone other than Adam Lowry be the net front presence, maybe Kyle Connor? Nic Petan has shown his offensive prowess on the powerplay and it may be in the powerplay’s best interest if he puts his skills on show there.
The penalty kill is where things start getting dicey for the Jets. The Jets finished 29th overall on the powerplay. The Jets would be wise to look internally to fix the penalty kill before making a trade or signing a UFA. The Jets only had Shawn Matthias for 45 games this past season. In the past he has excelled on the penalty kill and could provide the Jets with some much needed reinforcements for the 29th ranked penalty kill. Another player that has the skillset to succeed on the penalty kill is Kyle Connor. Connor has size and speed for days, why not use it on the penalty kill?
Goaltending has been a hot topic for the Jets all season and will be an issue debated about until the Jets shore up that position. Connor Hellebuyck ended the 2016-17 season with a record of 26-19-4, Goals Against Average of 2.89 and a save percentage of .907 percent. Michael Hutchinson
Unfortunately, the Jets will have to look outside their organization for help. Eric Comrie is not ready and Michael Hutchinson has not proven he can be a good enough back up for Connor Hellebuyck. Jonathon Bernier and Steve Mason are goalies that could be a stable back option for Hellebuyck, as they are UFAs. Both older goalies could be the veteran that Hellebuyck can learn from and further his career.
Part of the equation to look at is the goalie coach, Wade Flaherty. There have been some concerning signs around the Jets’ young goalies and this may be attributed to the goalie coach.
Improved goaltending, will be one of the keys to a playoff berth in the 2017-18 and improved goaltending will aid the penalty kill.
The Jets are picking in the 12-15 range at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. While, not as high as last year’s second overall, the Jets have the option of picking a pretty good player.
However, would a better option be trading the 1st round pick as part of a package deal for a left shot defenseman? The Carolina Hurricanes are a team that have an abundance of good and young defenders, with some of them even shooting left. Would Jaccob Slavin or Haydn Fleury slot into the line up? Fleury has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be poised to break out into the NHL. Slavin scored 34 point this past season as a NHL sophmore and would surely provide a more immediate impact for the Jets.
Guys like Michael Del Zotto or Brendan Smith are available via free agency, they may not be as dynamic of a pick up for the Jets. However, they would be cheaper asset wise.
Nelson Nogier needs to continue to develop in the AHL before becoming a regular on the Jets’ blue line. As well, unless Tucker Poolman blows the competition out of the water, he should at least start in the AHL to gain professional experience before joining the Jets.