Five (Not So) Bold Winnipeg Jets Predictions for the upcoming year
The start of the 2017’18 NHL Regular Season is right around the corner so what better time to release my Five (Not So) Bold Jets Predictions for the upcoming year.
Coming off of a disappointing 2016’17 regular season where the Jets missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, expectations are high for the team entering this season and making the playoffs is really the only option. So without further ado, here are my Five (Not So) Bold Jets Predictions….
#1- The Jets will take less penalties this year and the Special Teams will improve
The Jets were the fourth most penalized team in the NHL last season (based on minor penalties) and had the 26th ranked Penalty Kill which when combined is a recipe for disaster. It’s why the Jets brought in former NHL referee Paul Devorski last week. Quite simply, the Jets need to take less penalties this year and be better on the penalty kill. A healthy Bryan Little and Tyler Myers will help immensely as will the addition of Matt Hendricks. The Jets will get their Penalty Kill to Top 20 in the NHL. The Power Play will improve as well (18th in the NHL last season). The Jets will have a Top-10 ranked Power Play this season.
#2- Steve Mason will get 30+ wins
Without a doubt, the biggest move the Jets made this past off-season was signing 29-year-old goaltender Steve Mason. The expectation is that Mason will start 50-60 games this season with 24-year-old Connor Hellebuyck handling backup duties. Mason has posted 30+ wins twice in his career (most recently with Philadelphia four seasons ago) and he will need to be around this mark if the Jets want to have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. With an improved defence in front of him and no distractions, Mason will post 30+ wins and have a .920 save percentage.
#3- Patrik Laine will score 50 goals
To say that last year was a good year for Patrik Laine would be a massive understatement. As an 18-year-old rookie in the NHL, Laine registered 36 goals and 64 points in 73 games and established himself as one of the best young scorers in the game. Extrapolated over a full season, that’s 40 goals and 72 points. Well fast forward a year later and Laine has been skating on a line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler during the pre-season. There won’t be a sophomore slump for #29 this season. Laine will score 50 this year, winning his 1st Rocket Richard Trophy.
#4- Kyle Connor will play a full season in the NHL
Last year 2015 1st Round Draft Pick Kyle Connor made the Jets out of training camp but struggled out of the gate, posting one goal and three assists in 19 games. Connor was sent down to the Manitoba Moose in early December and spent the majority of the season there, posting 25 goals and 19 assists in 52 games. The 20-year-old winger from Michigan oozes skill and he is simply too good to spend another year in the American Hockey League. Regardless if he plays on the second line or third line, Connor will spend a full season with the Jets this year and will become a more complete professional player under the tutelage of Paul Maurice and company.
Update: Well I guess we can scratch #4 off the list as Kyle Connor was assigned to the Manitoba Moose one day prior to the Jets season opener versus Toronto.
#5- The Jets will make the playoffs (and win a round for the first time ever)
After two consecutive years of missing the playoffs, Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff got aggressive during the summer, signing Goaltender Steve Mason to a two-year deal, Defenceman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year deal and Center Matt Hendricks to a one-year deal. The message from Cheveldayoff to his team was clear: We are going for it. The Jets two biggest weaknesses last season were in goal and on defence and Cheveldayoff addressed both with the Mason and Kulikov signings. The Jets had 87 points last season, 7 points behind the 8th place Nashville Predators, who eventually went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Now I’m not saying the Jets are going to the Stanley Cup Final this year but with improved goaltending and defence, a healthy Tyler Myers and improved special teams, the Jets will make the playoffs and win a round for the first time in Jets 2.0/Thrashers history.
What do you think of my predictions? Have I lost my mind? Let us know in the comments section below….