Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets Line Dancing: 2019 Edition

As players are making their way back to Winnipeg, the excitement of a new season is just around the corner. Training camp will begin later this week regardless of the status of Connor and Laine. With two huge pieces having question marks beside their names, this makes for an even more fun series.

Just like we did last year, in this series we will be looking at 20 different line combinations that the Winnipeg Jets could or should use this year and break down each setup. And just like last year, we will rate each combination by their likelihood and their fun factor. Likelihood is essentially the chance that the combination will actually be utilized under head coach Paul Maurice while the fun factor is based purely on how much fun it would be to watch each lineup.

This year, there will be some interesting combinations given the uncertainty with Laine and Connor. For this reason, there will be some lineups that include both players, some that include one or the other, and a few that include neither player.

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If you want to reminisce a little bit and see where the Jets are now compared to last season, you can check out last year’s posts here.

Once you finish your flash back to last September, read on to check out this year’s combinations.

SCENARIO 1: The Status Quo

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nik Ehlers Bryan Little Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault Adam Lowry Jack Roslovic
Gabriel Bourque Andrew Copp Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 10/10
Fun factor: 2/10

This is the most likely scenario that we see out of training camp. The top six stays the same as last year, and the bottom six remains mostly intact. Perreault and Roslovic are likely third line players this year while Bourque and Appleton will likely see fourth line duty to start the year. It seems that the only other player that might make a push for the lineup is Vesalainen. He will be showcased in a few other sets of lines, but it seems that Appleton and Bourque have the best shot to make the team out of camp.

As for the fun factor, we have already seen these lines before, so there isn’t much mystery to this combination. We know that it’s fairly effective overall, although there is likely some better ways to configure the lineup.

SCENARIO 2: Connor & Laine Hold Out

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Nik Ehlers Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Jack Roslovic Bryan Little Kristian Vesalainen
Mathieu Perreault Adam Lowry Andrew Copp
Gabriel Bourque Mark Letestu Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 2/10
Fun Factor: 0/10

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Let’s get this out of the way early. There’s no way around it, the Jets would struggle mightily without Laine and Connor in the lineup. While this is a worst case scenario, it might help you understand how important these two players are to the team. The top line in this situation would still perform well, but the second line would often be out-matched.

The third line of Perreault, Lowry, Copp would be a really strong third line, but it leaves the fourth line in shambles with an aging Letestu centring Bourque and Appleton.

There shouldn’t be any cause for concern yet as there is plenty of time for both players to get a contract settled before the season begins. Even if both aren’t able to get a deal done, the Jets will most likely be able to get at least one of them signed. Currently it seems as though Connor is the likely candidate to get a contract done, so the next scenario includes a lineup with Connor but without Laine.

SCENARIO 3: KC Has A Deal, Laine Doesn’t

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nik Ehlers Bryan Little Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault Adam Lowry Kristian Vesalainen
Gabriel Bourque Andrew Copp Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 6/10
Fun Factor: 3/10

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There’s a decent chance that the Jets begin the season with one of Laine or Connor not signed to a new contract. With Laine’s deal worth more money, it’s likely Connor who is able to sign a new contract first. This set of lines shows what Winnipeg could run without Laine in the lineup.

The top line remains intact once again. Perhaps Roslovic can find chemistry alongside Bryan Little and help boost the secondary scoring. The bottom six would remain mostly intact with Vesalainen making an appearance on the third line. This would be a really good place for Vesalainen to start the year because he could get plenty of minutes while playing with two very responsible players. He might not be able to score as many goals, but he would develop his overall game by sharing a line with two very well-rounded hockey players.

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The fun factor is low for this combo strictly because there’s no Laine. It’s tremendously fun watching Laine blast goals on the powerplay. It’s also fun watching the Jets win and having Laine on the ice certainly helps in that regard as well.

Speaking of fun, let’s end our first installment in the series with some highlights of Laine ripping the puck past the opposition. Make sure to check back on JetsNation every few days as we continue our 20 in 20 series.