The Winnipeg Jets mandated week long break has kind of come at a neat time where they just crossed over the halfway point of the season which gives us as good a chance as any to catch our breath and brak out the ol red pen and hand out some grades.
Today we’ll look at the goaltenders and defensemen for the Jets, Friday we’ll cover the forwards.
Players will have to have played a minimum of 15 games this season to “qualify” to be graded… After all, it’s not exactly fair to grade Jack Roslovic on the four games he’s played, or Nic Petan based on his six games played.
As for the grades – which is not at all lifted from Cam Lewis and his report card over at Oilers Nation – nothing complicated or based on any kind of formulas. An “A” is exceptional. “B” counts as very good. “C” is considered average. “D” could easily stand for Disappointing and performing below expectations and an “F” in any grade system is flat out failure.
As always, we want your thoughts as well! Are these grades accurate? Agree with most, but disagree with some? Have your own grades you want to hand out? Let us know in the comments below!
Connor Hellebuyck: A+
Where would the Jets be without Helle-boy? I think most Jets fans expected him to have a stronger season than last year based on the fact he underwent some changes to his training, not to mention the challenge of a new veteran goalie being brought in to compete for playing time, but I doubt anyone expected this. A 23-6-6 record with a .922 save percentage and overall there is a confidence that you can see with the team when he’s in the net. For me he’s been the Jets MVP so far and worthy of an A+ grade.
Steve Mason: D
Let’s be honest, a .897 save percentage is not average and for a four million dollar goalie is almost “F” worthy. The sting of his less than ideal starts has been absorbed by the Jets offense which has been able to pick him up in a couple of his wins and by the fact that the Jets have made out ok with Hellebuyck. If anything, Hellebuyck’s play saved Mason from being handed a worse grade. The only thing that can be said in Mason’s defense is he hasn’t had much of a chance to get back in the net and prove himself, but even recently in his win over the Buffalo Sabres, allowing four goals and having an .895 save percentage for the game wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring.
Tyler Myers: C+
Tyler leads Jets defensemen in scoring with 23 points and when you look at his advanced numbers it’s a bit of a mixed bag. He’s helping out plenty on the offensive side of things, but defensively he still needs to improve and make smarter decisions with his zone exits.
Josh Morrissey: B
Our friend Cara from Arctic Ice Hockey summed it up best about Josh when we both took part in a Q and A with Sam Fels over at Faxes From Uncle Dale: “I actually forget about Morrissey most nights because he is so good you just don’t notice him. I guess his mature game at a young age.” – He plays such a quiet, responsible game that you forget he’s only in his sophomore season.
Jacob Trouba: B+
His offensive numbers aren’t where you’d like to see them, but a lot of that has come at the expense of a very solid defensive game where along with Josh Morrissey, they have formed the Jets top defensive pairing that routinely face other team’s top lines.
Dustin Byfuglien: C+
Buff is no longer the be all and end all of the Winnipeg defense, partly because of the play of Trouba and Morrissey and partly because Byfuglien’s “all or nothing” style hasn’t been as “all” as we’ve been used to over the past few seasons. He may not be happy with reduced minutes, but it should save him and be a blessing come playoff time.
Dmitry Kulikov: C
Kulikov and Myers has turned into a surprisingly decent pairing for the Jets. Dmitry seems to be covering up on the defensive side of things for his more offensive minded partner. The issue with both Myers and Kulikov is that they both struggle getting the puck out of their own zone. They defend well enough, it’s just that they tend to get stuck in their own end a little too much.
Ben Chiarot: C-
Ben played well enough when filling in for injury, doing exactly what a “seventh defenseman” should do which results in his C grade. If he was a regular in the Jets lineup, the grade would probably be worse. His play didn’t hurt the Jets, but if there is a long term issue to one of the Jets top four d-men, depending on Chiarot to fill in on a more permanent basis will not be ideal.
Tobias Enstrom: C
Toby has had yet another injury plagued season that has hindered him, but when he has been on the ice, he’s provided his typical solid defense. As always it would sure be nice if he shot the puck more (consider that Tucker Poolman has played 10 less games than Toby has and five more shots on goal than he does)