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Jets Nation mailbag: Connor Hellebuyck Hart Trophy, where do injured players fit into the line up, potential trade targets
By Evan Waldner1 month ago
Be sure to check Betway to check out the latest Jets game day odds and bet on the NHL! We have two contributors to the mailbag this week. Both Jets Empire (Evan) and Goose will be giving their best answers to your questions. If you have a question for the mailbag, you can send a message to any of the Jets Nation social media pages anytime, or you can email Goose at email@example.com.
Big week for the Winnipeg Jets; they are looking to be on top of the NHL for a full calendar week. A win tonight could keep the club there for the full seven days. Let’s break into the mailbag and see your questions for the best team in the National Hockey League.
Dean on TikTok asks- ”Will Hellebuyck be on contention for the Hart Trophy if he keeps his play up?”
Now this is a contentious question, if you take a look at 2022-23 Connor Hellebuyck and compare him to this current season. You can for sure say that Hellebuyck is not relied on as much as he was last season. He has been seeing a lot fewer shots compared to last season where he was averaging 30-45 shots a game. Now if you are going to have him as a runner up for the Hart, you have to take a moment and decide if he’s really the Jets MVP this season.
If you look at the Jets team defensive numbers you will see that they have drastically improved from last year, as they are on a stretch of 30 consecutive games of allowing 3 goals or less which is 6th in the NHL all-time. The 1928-29 Boston Bruins hold the number 1 spot all-time with 44 games in a row.
The defensive pairings have been very successful as Nate Schmidt and Dylan Samberg have the lowest expected goals against while on the ice in the league according to Moneypuck.com, and Neal Pionk and Brenden Dillon are also mentioned in that list as well. Josh Morrissey continues to be successful with his defense partner Dylan DeMelo as they have both combined for 8 goals and 44 points with an incredible plus-minus of +49. Many good things like winning games and scoring goals are happening because of our defensive play this season so far.
Let’s take a dive into the Jets’ key forwards. Gabriel Vilardi, who has been on a tear since coming back from injury nine goals and 18 points in 19 games. Mark Scheifele, who has been having another terrific season so far with 14 goals and 41 points in 40 games. Finally we can’t forget about Cole Perfetti, who is having a breakout season wiht 14 goals and 29 points. also Nikolaj Ehlers, who has kept healthy and non-stop producing 14 goals, 32 points. There are at least 4 forwards on the Jets’ roster that could be mentioned as a Hart Trophy runner-up.
So arguably, Connor Hellebuyck is without a doubt in the Hart Trophy conversation. It’s also without a doubt that some of the Jets forwards and defencemen are involved as well. But if Hellebuyck is keeps his elite play up and is stellar all season long and stays that leader he has been for this Jets team. He absolutely is this clubs MVP and has a shot at winning the Hart Trophy.
Without Kyle Connor, there is no question Connor Hellebuyck is the Jets MVP. But only seven goalies have won the most valuable player award in Hart history, the most recent being Carey Price in 2015. Price played 66 games that season, had a 1.96 goals-against average, and a .933 save percentage.
With the way the Jets are lining up for a potential deep run, we might not see Hellebuyck play 60 games as Laurent Brossoit has been a great backup goaltender. As well, Price in 2015 saw 1953 shots, right now Hellebuyck might see a little over 1700 total shots.
With fewer games played and fewer games won because of Hellebuyck’s direct effort, toppled with the bias of eastern media and no love for Winnipeg in the NHL. Unless the Michigan-born goalie has a 1.65 goals-against average, I don’t know if the votes would be there for the Jets starting goalie. Hellebuyck might be a finalist, but I would be shocked to see him win the Hart.
Deron Monkman on TikTok asks- ‘’How does the lineup look after Connor, Kupari, and Heinola are all activated?”
First, let’s begin with superstar forward Kyle Connor. Connor before he was injured was a left winger on the first line, currently Cole Perfetti is in that spot. So the assumption is that Perfetti will move down to the second or third line and Connor will return to his rightful spot. Perfetti will likely have to move Namestnikov and Namestnikov will have to drop to the fourth line replacing Axel Jonsson-Fjällby in the right wing spot. This will end up with Fjällby being sent down to the Manitoba Moose due to his contract being a two-way.
Secondly, we have Rasmus Kupari. Kupari before he was injured was a fourth line centre. As of right now, Dominic Toninato is in that spot, who was called up from the Manitoba Moose when David Gustafsson went out with a lower body injury. So this will result in Kupari taking Toninato’s place and then Toninato and Gustafsson being sent down to the Moose when Gustafsson’s healthy again.
Lastly, probably the most discussed player, Ville Heinola. Heinola has been a player that has been called up and sent back down multiple times. This season it looked like he just might play a full season in the NHL but then a catastrophe occurred. During a pre-season contest against the Ottawa Senators, Heinola suffered a fractured ankle and has been out since. But even if we have a healthy Heinola, does he realistically have a secured roster spot right now? All 3 defence pairs are absolutely buzzing at all cylinders, and yes I’m talking about Nate Schmidt and Dylan Samberg as well. Heinola just doesn’t have a spot right now, the only way I can see him getting in the action is if someone were to go out with an injury.
Darren Dreger talked about Kyle Connor getting back into the line up during his podcast this week. He would say the Jets are salivating to get the Connor, Scheifele, and Vilardi line together. Which is a waste of Nikolaj Ehlers’ talent but I’m not the coach.
I see the 81-55-13 being a thing the coaching staff goes to for at least 10 games to see that chemistry works. With Ehlers finding himself with Cole Perfetti and Alex Iafallo on the second line and Vlad Namestikov finding himself on the fourth line.
Rasmus Kupari is currently down in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose for a conditioning stint. I will be totally honest I don’t fully understand how these conditioning stints work and don’t know how long he can be in the AHL for. If he can stay there for a long while. I would keep him down there until Dominic Toninoto shows he can no longer be an NHLer.
Kupari only had one point in 15 games with the Jets, sure he was fast and working on scoring but the production was down and it felt like he was holding the fourth line back from being great like they are now.
Ville Heinola will need to have conditioning stint in the AHL for sure as he only played during the preseason. Give him five games down there to get up to speed and then let him into the line up and give seven games to get climatized to the Jets if he plays better than Nate Schmidt let him stay, otherwise he is the next man up before Logan Stanley if an injury occurs to the Jets defenders.
Aidon M. on instagram asks- What moves should Cheve make to insure the Jets make a run in the playoffs?
I’ve been saying it since November. Go get an Adam Larsson type for the right side defence and if you can make a rental happen for Elias Lindholm from Calgary the Jets should be set to make a deep playoff push.
Recent articles from Evan Waldner
- The return of Kyle Connor: Game day 43 Winnipeg Jets vs New York Islanders
- “You will need to find ways to win, even without your best players in the lineup”: Game day 42 Winnipeg Jets vs Philadelphia Flyers
- ”There’s not really a lot of pressure on them, that makes them a dangerous team”: Game day 41 Winnipeg Jets vs Chicago Blackhawks