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A great little addition to the Winnipeg Jets:Gabriel Vilardi Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Goose
By Goose
1 month ago
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It’s time to continue the end-of-season year-in-review series for your Winnipeg Jets. Let’s have a look at the players who came into Winnipeg with the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade last July. Connor looked at Mark Scheifele earlier today, and I will look at his linemate and former LA King Gabriel Vilardi. Let’s break down his 2023-24 season and give a little prediction for the next season as well.
Vilardi, 24, from Kingston, Ontario, the same place as the Tragically Hip, was drafted 11th overall in the first round by the LA Kings in 2017, where he spent time with both the Kings and their AHL team, the Ontario Reign.
The first year of Vilardi in Winnipeg had some bumps in the road for the young forward, starting with a knee injury sustained just three games into the season. The injury happened when Kings forward Blake Lizotte made a “stupid play,” which led to Vilardi missing six weeks of the regular season.
Vilardi also had to deal with an enlarged spleen, which kept him out for the month of March. So the young forward only played 47 games this past season but was a major contributor to the Jets’ power play, scoring nine goals and 14 points during the man advantage.
During the regular season, Vilardi scored 22 goals and 36 points. Although his defensive game took a step back this season, going from a 59.80 Corsi For% in LA in his final season to 55.88 CF%, he was still incredibly useful to the Jets’ top line. He was primarily playing with Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele, who weren’t always defensively responsible.
Over the past two seasons, Vilardi has kept up an impressive 18.85 shooting percentage. If he gets a fully healthy season and keeps that shooting percentage above 15%, he could become a 50-goal scorer. He’s just entering the prime of his career; I don’t see why he couldn’t chase the 50-goal dragon over the next few seasons.
The postseason wasn’t great for Vilardi, only scoring four assists in five games and was a minus four. We need to remember the rest of the team wasn’t great, and they were beaten as a collective by the Colorado Avalanche, a team who knows how to win a Cup. He also had the same number of points in the same number of games in his five-game postseason with the Kings in 2023. He did shoot at 20% for the Kings in 2023, so in theory, he could be a clutch player for the Jets in future postseasons.
If he stays healthy next season, his 3.4 million dollar cap hit will look like an absolute steal. The next contract could be another steal as he will be an RFA when this contract expires, but he will have arbitration rights. If the “he’s too soft” crowd chimes in loud enough, he might be worth a Zach Hyman contract.
I would like to see him play with Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers on the top line next season. If that line can stay healthy for the full 82 games, I could see 95 goals spread between those three men. As well, if Vilardi stays healthy, he could help the Jets become a top 10 power play team in the NHL. The offensive get-into-the-hard-spots game from Vilardi is irreplaceable; not many guys are willing to take that beating on a regular basis.
Over all I was happy with Vilardi joining the Jets Kevin Cheveldayoff could have traded Dubois for him one for one and I think many Jets fans would have been over the moon with the trade after the first season with the two players. His first season with the Jets has to go down as an A. If he got into 60 or more games he probably scores 40 goals and helps the Jets win first in the west.

JETS NATION PRESENTED BY BETWAY

 
 

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