The Winnipeg Jets were one of the league’s best teams last season.
It was a long time coming, but this team put together a great regular season, a long and solid playoff run until they ran into the Vegas Golden Knights, and showed that they are going to be contenders in this league for years to come.
Mark my words, this team has a good shot to get to their first Stanley Cup Final in team history. It all starts with the team’s offense.
The Jets are absolutely loaded up front. Blake Wheeler, who recently signed a five-year, $412.25 million contract, was dominant last season as he led the team with 91 points (23 goals and 68 assists) in the regular season and then added another 21 points (3 goals and 18 assists). in the postseason.
Right behind Wheeler was sniper Patrik Laine. Laine, who has only been the in the league for two years, picked up 70 points (44 goals and 26 assists) last season and also had a solid first-time playoff experience (5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points).
You also cannot forget that up front, this extremely talented hockey club has Nikolaj Ehlers (29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points), Mark Scheifele (23 goals and 37 assists for 60 points), and Kyle Connor (31 goals and 26 assists for 57 points). These are three young forwards who are going to continue to produce at a high level for this franchise for the next several years.
The Jets also have a solid defensive corps. Dustin Byfuglien, 33, continues to be an absolute workhorse on the backend while also continuing to provide a good amount of offense as he had 45 points (8 goals and 37 assists) in 69 games. Like many others on this team, he was also solid in the playoffs as he added another 16 points (5 goals and 11 assists) and showed that he can be relied on for leadership both on and off the ice.
After big Buff, guys like Tyler Myers (6 goals and 30 assists for 36 points), Josh Morrissey (7 goals and 19 assists for 26 points), and Jacob Trouba (3 goals and 24 assists for 27 points) all had good seasons. Depth-wise, the Jets’ D is rounded out with players like Toby Enstrom, Joe Morrow, and Tucker Poolman.
In goal, the team has Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck, who inked a six-year $37 million contract. where he will be making $6.167 million per year for a franchise that should be a Cup contender for the next several years.
Hellebuyck, 25, was outstanding last season. He had 44 wins, a 2.36 GAA, a .924 save percentage six shutouts and he was also good in his first postseason as he went 9-8 with a 2.36 GAA, a .922 save percentage and two shutouts.
When you put all of these things together, you have a Cup contending team. Yes, the Western Conference has other talented and successful hockey clubs in the in the Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, and Los Angeles Kings.
With all of that said, this Jets hockey club can and will compete with anyone this season and could find themselves in the Final come June.
*Photo: Winnipeg Free Press