Are you excited? After 20 games, the Winnipeg Jets are second in the central division, with a 12-5-3 record. You better be excited.
Since this is rather a new world that we’re encompassing right now, I felt it would be best to compare this year’s club to the last one that had moderate success, which would be the last (and only) club to make the playoffs which was 3 years ago.
That year, the Winnipeg Jets started the first 20 games with a record of 8-9-3, good for 19 points and a goal differential of -9 (This year it is a plus 11)
The Winnipeg Jets were a young club (and still are quite frankly) but now have more experience (Scheifele, Wheeler, Little, Byfuglien, Perrault, Lowry, Enstorm, Trouba, Myers, Copp and Chariot are the remaining players from that team)
With that breeds more productivity.
From that squad, the top 3 scorers were Blake Wheeler, Mark Sheifele, and Bryan Little with 61, 52, and 49 points respectively. Projected over an 82 game schedule, those point totals would be 102, 102, and 40 points respectively.
Goaltending has been an oft issue with the Winnipeg Jets. That year Ondrej Pavelec finished the year with a GAA of 2.28 and a save percentage of .920%. This year, Connor Hellebuyck has a GAA of 2.45 and a save percentage of .925 %.
Now, there were a lot of variables that year that could still come to play. One of which was the injuries to that squad. A total of 99 games were lost to injury, including a neck injury to Jacob Trouba. Other players lost to injury that year were Dustin Byfuglien Zach Bogosian, and Adam Lowry. That forced GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to make certain trades to bolster for the eventual playoff push (Acquiring Jay Harrison, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Lee Stempniak).
As of writing this (November 21, 2017), The Jets haven’t been hit with the injury bug as much (Perreault, and Lowry with limited action and Enstrom gone for 8 weeks), but the Jets have a lot of depth, which is something that they haven’t had in quite some time. Notwithstanding the players in the farm system, the Jets also have Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, Nik Ehlers, Joel Armia, Tucker Poolman, and Dmitri Kulikov. This team isn’t perfect, but by all means, there’s a lot of confidence that I have that this team will be a lot better than the one 3 years ago.
There is still 62 games that things can go wrong, but with the way this team is built and the experience they have. Playoffs are a valid expectation
With my last piece, I wrote that I had some expectations that the Winnipeg Jets would be a playoff team. We are 3 days away from American Thanksgiving, and those expectations could be a reality in 3 months.
So why aren’t you excited yet?