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 turn out report card attention to the forwards of the Winnipeg Jets.
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 and a stand out performance. “C” is considered average – not amazing but not too shabby either. “D” could easily stand for cisappointing 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!
Blake Wheeler: A
Leads the team in points (53) and assists (39) but also doesn’t hesitate to back check and block shots which after some of the shots he has blocked that has hobbled him, you’d rather see him save that level of commitment for the playoffs. Has filled in for Mark Scheifele at center while he’s been hurt. He’s many a fan’s pick for mid-season MVP for the Jets and it’s easy to see why when you watch him on the ice.
Mark Scheifele: A
Before his injury in late December, some were starting to wonder if the Jets were leaning on him a little too much as his production started to trail off ever so slightly from the torrid, near league leading pace he had in the first part of the season. This injury may be a blessing in disguise as it will give him a chance the final third of the season a bit more rested than had he gone through the grind of the past month or so.
Patrik Laine: B
He’s lighting the lamp with ease yet again this season, but 11 of his 20 goals have come with the man advantage. It would be nice to see him be a bit more effective when playing 5 on 5 hockey, and his ply on the defensive end of thing still lacks at times, but we have to remind ourselves he’s only 19 and he is showing signs of being a more physical presence on the ice as his comfort level grows.
Nik Ehlers: B-
Cassie has summed up Nik perfectly a few different times with one simple statement… If his hands and brain could catch up to his feet, he would be super dangerous out on the ice. Can skate circles around players, just has trouble doing it with the puck and will make careless – sometimes bordering on selfish – decisions. Needs to use his linemates better and slow down – just a tiny bit – once in a while.
Kyle Connor: B
Still trying to figure out what the brief little stint in Manitoba was supposed to prove at the start of the season, but once he got put on the top line, he did quite fine. Where he has improved is that in the first part of the first half of the season, he may have deferred more to Wheeler or Scheifele to drive play and just hung along for the ride. Since the 20 game mark and especially since Scheifele’s injured, Connor has seem to taken it upon himself to be more of a play creator and create scoring chances for himself and his linemates.
Mathieu Perreault: A
Put him on the first line, put him on the fourth line, it really doesn’t matter. Matty P will produce points and make his linemates look so much better (a statement especially true when put on a line with Andrew Copp and Matt Hendricks) Perreault’s versatility makes him super valuable and makes it super tempting for Paul Maurice to keep him on the fourth line to balance out the Jets lineup. Fine for games in mid-Janurary Paul, but come playoff time, he better be kept in the top six group.
Bryan Little: D
Not exactly what any of us – especially Bryan himself – probably expected when he signed his contract extension at the start of the season. He’s remained in the top six group almost by default thanks to injuries and a hope that things will start clicking for him on the ice yet again, but it just hasn’t happened yet. One slight cause for hop though is his shooting percentage which is a career low 11.1 percent. Perhaps he’s due for a few more of his shots to find the back of the net.
Joel Armia: C+
Has been a nice complement to Adam Lowry and the third line and every so often can bust out a fantastic hustle play. Has a very unique ability to create offense on the penalty kill, but advanced numbers would suggest he also gives up a lot of scoring chances – more so than most other Jet forwards – when on the ice in a penalty kill situation. Has played on a line mostly asked to keep things locked down defensively which has hindered his numbers a bit.
Adam Lowry: A-
Speaking of hindered numbers, Adam Lowry hasn’t provided the offense he may have last season, partly due to reduced power play time but mostly because he’s sneakily turned into the Jets best defensive forward. He hasn’t always drawn against opposing team’s top forwards exclusively, but it hasn’t been unusual to see Lowry’s line being given a shutdown assignment for the night against a team’s second forward line. He won’t be given Selke trophy consideration, but his underlying numbers suggest maybe he should.
Andrew Copp: B-
Copp is starting to turn into Perreault-lite in that he’s a versatile forward who has been shuffled around between the third and fourth lines, had different teammates from one night to the next and just continues to play a steady, strong game on the defensive side of things while still able to chip in a bit of offense.
Matt Hendricks: C
At the absolute very least, he’s been a big upgrade over the likes of a Chris Thorburn and lest you think “veteran intangibles” isn’t a thing, try watching the Jets bench when he has scored this season and tell me he isn’t one of the most beloved guys within that dressing room. As mentioned before, he does deserve some credit for the Jets succss this season, just maybe perhaps not as much as the media would like to give him. He’s been a very nice surprise, but it’s also not a mystery why there are rumors swirling that the Jets are looking to add forward depth for a playoff run. Hendricks can continue to be a great veteran leader even if his ice time is reduced down the stretch.
Brandon Tanev: C+
A whirling dervish of a hockey player, rarely do you see him not hustle his tail off in any given shift, but that hustle comes lacking hockey smarts at times which will put him out of position for a play or a bad mistake. That part of him has gotten better as the season has gone along though and it’s unfortunate his injury has hindered him even more. Quite honestly though, the thought of his energy and hustle on the ice come playoff time with an improved ability to make decisions on the ice is an exciting thing to think about if you’re a Jets fan.
Shawn Matthias: D
If a few of his scoring chances early on in the season had gotten past the goalie or found the back of the net, perhaps it’s a different story, but overall his lack of ability to finish plays and score keeps him at a D grade.