The following content has been paraphrased from Saturday’s Illegal Curve Hockey Show, where we graded the 2013 performance of individual Winnipeg Jets’ players. Download the podcast here or subscribe to the Illegal Curve Hockey Show on iTunes.
The grades are in the context of our expectations for that particular player.
Games Played – Goals –Assists – Points
Andrew Ladd (A+)
Three more years
48 GP – 16 G – 28 A – 46 P
Richard: Can it be anything other than an A+? He was the best player on the team as far as I’m concerned. He took his game to a level I hadn’t seen before. The role he played on those cup teams was far different than the role he played on this team.
Ezra: It’s more than the points, he was a leader, he fought, he played well defensively. He was the most consistent player for the Jets and was the MVP of the team.
Bryan Little (B+)
48 GP – 7 G – 25 A – 32 P
Richard: He had a solid season, it wasn’t dominant by any means. Little is the third guy on that (Ladd/Little/Wheeler) line, he had 32 points, but only seven goals. It was above average. A solid year, not as good as Wheeler or Ladd’s but a solid one.
Ezra (C+): There are a lot of good things that he does, he’s a good skater and stick-handler. Seven goals, playing in every game is a bit low for him, some games he wasn’t a big factor. In 24 games he had zero points, and on the last home-stand Bryan Little had a point in every game. To be a number one centre in the NHL you have to be bigger and meaner, Little isn’t the most physical guy. I think he’s better suited for a second line centre role.
Blake Wheeler (A)
48 GP – 19 G – 22 A – 41 P
Richard: Really solid year (in regards to his point totals). He displayed more confidence this year; he had a solid season and exceeded what I thought he would do. When put in the proper position with the right guys, he’s a real nice top six forward.
Ezra (B+). He was really consistent, had 13 multi point games. The only reason he doesn’t get an A is because he went six points without a point in March and April and the Jets really needed him in those games.
Evander Kane (B)
Five more years
48 GP – 17 G – 16 A – 33 P
Richard: I thought he’d be better. He had a solid season. He’s better defensively than people give him credit for and he killed penalties this year. I would have liked to see some improvements in some areas. I didn’t think he had a dominant season; there were stretches when he was invisible. I realize that he played with some injuries. He had a solid season, but looking at his contract, he is a player who is getting paid more than John Tavares, and they aren’t in the same ballpark. His game was solid, but I didn’t see a ton of progress over last year. He’s still a 30 goal scorer and a solid up and down winger, but I think he’s capable of more.
Ezra: On certain nights he can be the best player on the ice. The reason I will give him a B is down the stretch he struggled. He had a wrist injury and a leg injury. The reason he gets a B is he had 80 penalty minutes, was at the top of the league in minor penalties. That was a sign of immaturity and a lack of discipline. Going forward he needs to reduce the amount of penalties he takes because a lot of them are in the offensive zone. He trailed off at the stretch, and left a little bit to be desired. My expectations were higher this year than last year. He has room to grow as a hockey player.
Olli Jokinen (F)
One more year
45 GP – 7 G – 7 A – 14 P
Richard: He doesn’t win face-offs, he’s not a good passer. He was awful on the power play and awful at even strength. Olli Jokinen had an awful year, there’s not much else to say.
Ezra: He was invisible on a lot of nights, he probably had 4 or 5 strong games in the 45 games he played. In my wildest expectations, I didn’t expect him to have 14 points.
Kyle Wellwood (D)
39 GP – 6 G – 9 A – 15 P
Richard: He didn’t improve on any of his weaknesses, there were stretches where he was invisible. I thought he would be better, showed up for periods, but didn’t do much. He’s in over his head as a second line winger.
Ezra: Last year he was one of the best bargains. He had one goal in the first 19 games. He was a healthy scratch seven times this year. He makes great passes and has great hands but is slow and rarely lays a body check. There’s too many games where he isn’t a factor of the ice.
Eric Tangradi (C)
36 GP – 1 G – 3 A – 4 P
Richard: He’s a bigger guy without a mean streak and is really inconsistent. He tries hard, doesn’t do anything wrong, but doesn’t do much right. A C is about what I expected from him, but he didn’t do much. This is a guy who’s max fourth line right wing right now, and I feel like James Wright does it better than him.
Ezra (C+) – He’s a guy that has size, and can use it, he’s not overly physical. He was at his best when playing with Burmistrov and Santorelli. A guy like Tangradi hasn’t been able to transfer the offense from the AHL level to NHL. On certain nights in the 9 or 10 minutes he was on the ice did a good job.
Alex Burmistrov (C)
44 GP – 4 G – 6 A – 10 P
Richard: He sees the game quite well, but his decision making is below par. He’s a solid defensive player who does back check, I think he is more suited to that right now. He doesn’t win faceoffs and makes bad decisions with careless passes and fancy players. The guy doesn’t create much offense. He had 4 goals and only put 55 shots on net which is less than Ron Hainsey> if he could stop playing shinny and start playing hockey he would be a better player. I didn’t see progress from year to year which is why he gets a C.
Ezra (C+) – He fell into the doghouse in March. When he came back he showed more focus. He is one of the most frustrating players to watch because he has all the talent, but lacks focus. He’s a guy who could turn into more of a defensive forward. He’s still young, and the next two years will determine if he’s part of the organization.
Mike Santorelli (B)
10 GP – 0 G – 1 A – 1 P
Richard: It was only ten games so it’s hard to guage. He showed some nice speed at tiems. He’s a pending UFA. I don’t see him beign in the long term plans of this team. They do have a need on right wing, but I don’t see him coming back.
Ezra (C+) – I think they should sign him back, it’s tough to grade a guy in ten games. He’s young enough that he is still developing. I don’t think he’ll become a 40 goal scorer even though he had 20 a fewy ears ago with florida. If it’s between Kyle Wellwood and Mike Santorelli, you could probably get Santorelli for cheaper and he’s younger. He’s got lots of speed and is great in the shootout. Given the right role he can flourish next year.
Nik Antropov (C+)
40GP 6G 12A 18P
Richard – C – Nik Antropov when he wants to play is a pretty skilled player. He’s strong and sees the ice well but is slow. He puts out a bit under .5 points per game but is better than that. If he can’t take advantage of the opportunity to become an offensive force on this team, what team can he do it with?
Ezra (D) – He put up 18 points, and was injured in March. The reason he gets a D is that he had too many pointless streaks. There were big stretches when he wasn’t producing. When he’s out there you need him to score. He got a lot of icetime, and is another guy who gets a lot of criticism for his contract but even without the money he was too invisible on too many nights. For a guy like him to have six goals is not enough to contribute on a regular basis.
Jim Slater (C+)
Two more years
26 GP 1G 1A 2P
Richard: My expectation was a bit more than what he produced. They may have missed Tanner Glass a bit more than we thought. He still wins faceoffs at 54% which is where his value is. But he could have been a bit better scoring wise. His season wasn’t as good as last year, which is why he gets a C+
Ezra (B) – It’s tough to give him a full grade because of his hand injury but his offensive totals were not he would want them to be. He’s one of the top penalty killers on the team. He’s good at what he does and the Jets missed him down the stretch.
Chris Thorburn (B)
One more year
42 GP – 2 G – 2 A – 4 P
Richard: He’s a 4th line right winger who plays five minutes a night, who plays hard and is supposed to fight. He does what they asked him to do.
Ezra (B) – He scored four points, and got into nine fights. He stands up for his teammates, I didn’t like how he only played 4 or 5 minutes on many occasions. His average ice time was down from last year and fell a bit into the doghouse.
James Wright (B+)
One more year
Richard – I thought he played quite well. He can slot in as the 4th line left winger, he’s bigger and a better skater than Tanner Glass who had that spot last season. He surprised me, he is under contract for next season.
Ezra (B) – He’s a really good skater, has good speed and played good minutes on the penalty kill. Moving forward, he’s the type of guy that will be depended on as a number one penalty killer. What I love the most is that he will drop the gloves when called upon.
Antti Miettinen (D)
Richard: He didn’t perform well and had a season that merited a D
Ezra: The days of him being a 15-20 goal scorer are long gone.
Aaron Gagnon (B+)
Richard: Hard to grade the players who played such little time. He had nice hands, would go to the net and did some things that other players wouldn’t do. I don’t think he fits into the team’s long term plans, he might be in St. John’s but I don’t think he cracks the top 12 of the Jets roster.
Ezra (C+) – I think he’s earned the right to be an NHL player, but the only reason he got into the lineup on the Jets is because of injuries. A fringe player, maybe he will get a two way contract next year and split time between St. John’s and Winnipeg.
Anthony Peluso (B)
Richard: Tough to tell with so little ice time. Can he play as well or better than Thorburn. He gets a B with the small amount of time he was in the lineup
Ezra (A): In five games he had two points, and played his role.
Patrice Cormier (C)
Richard: He played four minutes a game, he didn’t play well when he played, but he played so little it’s tough to give him a grade. He’s physical and isn’t afraid to go into the corner, but he is offensively limited. It will be hard for him to take Jim Slater’s place and he couldn’t which is why they sent him down.
Ezra (D) – He only played ten games here, but was ineffective in those games.
Editors note: Stay tuned later this afternoon for the grades for the defense and goaltenders