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A player who understands their role every game: Mason Appleton Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Welcome Jets fans, to the 1st of many Jets Nation year in review posts for the 2023-24 season. Before I get right into the 1st player in the spotlight, Mason Appleton, I’ll briefly get you up to speed with what I’ll be trying to accomplish here with these year in review articles.
You know by now that the Winnipeg Jets 2023-24 season has come to an end after a 4-1 series loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the 1st round of the NHL playoffs. This off-season is going to be a very interesting one for the team, especially considering the significant improvements they made in the regular season, which includes tying a franchise record with 52 wins.
News and announcements about the players and staff from the Jets will surely be announced throughout the off-season. The point of the year in reviews is to take a look, one-by-one, at how the season went for any given player on the Winnipeg Jets.
There is no particular order to who I select to post about, and it’s important to consider that I’ll likely just be focusing on the lineup regulars. A final point to mention is that I’ll be recapping the players’ 2023-24 season, comparing it to the rest of their career, and looking ahead for what the player could be doing in the 2024-25 season.
Starting you off for today’s featured player is Mason Appleton. Now why did I choose Appleton as the 1st player? No particular reason really, but I believe that he’s that most underrated player on the Winnipeg Jets. As the title suggests, he’s a player that understands his place and role on the team, and he’s someone who excelled in his 3rd line role this season with the Jets.
Appleton, a 28-year old from Green Bay, Wisconsin, had a career year this season. Appleton played all 82 games this season, collecting 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points. Appleton’s previous most games played in a season in his NHL career was 58 in 2021-22, as he’s previously had several seasons affected by not being a lineup regular or due to injury. His 14 goals beat his previous best of 12, his 22 assists were 9 better than his career-best 13, and his 36 points were 11 better than the 25 points he got in 2020-21.
The stats are just part of the improvement that was seen in Appleton’s game this season. There must have been a particular reason why the Jets traded to re-acquire Appleton from the Seattle Kraken 2 seasons ago after he was selected by the Kraken in the NHL expansion draft. Coach Rick Bowness found something that simply worked this season with the Jets 3rd line combination of Nino Niederreiter, Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton. The chemistry was there, and the consistency, energy and efficiency all came together to create a trustworthy 3rd line.
If you take a look at Appleton’s advanced analytics, you won’t see anything that jumps off the page as “top of the league”, but you also won’t see any missing gaps in his game either. According to hockey reference, Appleton’s Corsi and Fenwick percentage were both around 45-46%. An above 50% in these stats means that Appleton’s team was controlling the puck more often than not when he was on the ice. This means that overall, Appleton was fairly effective in all the situations he was deployed for on the ice throughout the season.
As I mentioned, the overall feeling that I get when I watch Mason Appleton on the ice is that he’s a dependable player that does what he’s asked of him every night. You can definitely see the growth in his game, and at 28 years old he still has a few years to grow into the player he wants to be for the rest of his career. Whether his linemates brought the best out of his game or not, one thing is for certain, that he’s 100% a player that needs to be in the lineup for every game.
What does the future look like for Appleton on the Jets? Well, next season will be the final year of his 3-year contract where he’s earning just less than 2.2 million a season. It’s too early to say what the Jets will do with Appleton after that, but I would imagine that they will try to extend him if he has another great season. With the salary cap steadily going up for the next few seasons, it may be in the best interest to sign Appleton to a longer term deal, in the 4 to 6 year range.
Overall, Mason Appleton had a successful season this year with the Winnipeg Jets. His linemates, captain Adam Lowry and Nino Niederreiter will both be back on the team next season, so I see no reason why this dynamic 3rd line won’t be reunited once again for the 2024-25 season. A solid bottom six forward who works hard, especially on the penalty kill, and has developed into a secondary scoring option. That’s the best way I can describe Mason Appleton, and I’m excited to see what’s next for him in the 2024-25 season.

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