Monday, August 17, 2015

2016 Pool Projections: Winnipeg

There may be no better team in the NHL at playing the lunch pail bunch or blue collar gang, like the Winnipeg Jets.  This group is a great collective of players that can do more than one thing well, but no one is absolutely outstanding or worthy of NHL voting honours.  They're just there and they're finally winning more games.

Management preached patience to their fans, upon their arrival from Atlanta and now everyone is getting rewarded for showing up every night, filling up the MTS Centre, with playoff hockey.  Sure, an opening round exit to the Anaheim Ducks doesn't seem all that great, but it is part of the baby steps that this franchise needed to take, in order to be viable again in the NHL.

The 2016 season shows a lot of promise on paper, as they'll be able to add some dynamic young talent to their roster and they'll be able to turn over some more of those roster spots to the capable youth that they are developing these days.  A sign of a very strong franchise-to-be.

As a poolie, looking upon the projections below, I am thinking that I will be pretty happy to pick a Jets player, maybe two, in the middle-to-end rounds of the draft, as they may not jump off the player list in front of you at the draft, but they'll probably turn themselves into good bargain picks by season's end.

Player Pos 15/16 Proj Rookie
Andrew Ladd F 65
Blake Wheeler F 60
Bryan Little F 55
Mark Scheifele F 55
Nikolaj Ehlers F 55 Y
Ondrej Pavelec G 50
Dustin Byfuglien D 50
Michael Hutchinson G 45
Drew Stafford F 45
Mathieu Perreault F 40
Tobias Enstrom D 35
Jacob Trouba D 35
Tyler Myers D 30
Adam Lowry F 25
Alex Burmistrov F 25
Nicolas Petan F 20 Y
Chris Thorburn F 15
Matt Fraser F 15
Matt Halischuk F 15
Adam Pardy D 15
Mark Stuart D 10
Jay Harrison D 10
Paul Postma D 10
Anthony Peluso F 5
Ben Chiarot D 5
Grant Clitsome D 5
Andrew MacWilliam D 5 Y

Table updated on August 10th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

A solid sophomore season is an oddity in the NHL, but Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele had a pretty good one in 2015, improving upon his rookie total of 34 points in 63 games to 49 points in all 82 games. This kid is going to be a huge piece of the Jets offense in 2016 and the 7th overall pick in 2011 might have some justification before too long.

I don't think 55 points is necessarily a ceiling for the 22-year old, but I do think it's a pretty fair guideline.  At that projection, you couldn't be too sad if he was 5 points either way and you'd be pretty pleased, if he truly broke out, like he seems to be capable of.  Some solid additions to their top six could be the tipping point to how far he can go this year.

First Round Picks

Now, I'm not suggesting that Scheifele is going to be opening round material this Fall, so don't get too far ahead and I'm also not suggesting that anyone else is really going to be opening round material either.  The goaltending is a bit of a toss up to me still, although Ondrej Pavelec did run with the ball for most of crunch time, the start of the year makes him a wild card.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

Andrew Ladd wears the 'C' on his chest and leads this team in so many ways, including the projections for the forwards, as he comes in at a solid 65 points, which should put him in as a solid 3rd round pick, maybe higher in a deeper pool.  Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault all round out the veterans, who should be looked upon for points this year, while the aforementioned Mark Scheifele should be a good pick as well.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

We should all know by now, just how talented this Jets defense is, especially in the offensive end.  Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom has been anchoring this defense for a while now, they hit a home run drafting Jacob Trouba and the acquisition of Tyler Myers, gives them a pool worthy top four, which will compete with any other defense in the league.  Byfuglien and Enstrom will continue to lead the way, but I wouldn't be too surprised if either Trouba or Myers came and nipped on their heels in the scoring department.

Goaltending Situation

Further to the goaltending point above, Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson split quite a bit of time last season, before the Jets really got serious about trying to make the playoffs.  I know Pavelec has his supporters, but I would consider myself one of his cynics, since he has really yet to dazzle.  Right now, I see Pavelec taking the better part of the split, but Hutchinson's numbers is a testament to the 'anything can happen at the start the season' mentality.

Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race

The Jets definitely have some potential in this 2016 season, as their top prospect heading into the show will be Nikolaj Ehlers, who I have right in the thick of the rookie scoring race.  I think he gets drafted at the beginning of October, while there could be some supporting cast adds, if Nic Petan gets a full-time job or they need some goaltending help from Connor Hellebuyck.

Team To Pick From Late?

I like this team's depth and the mentality of the team, even in the bottom six, as they scratch and claw their way for everything they get.  I'm not quite sure what to make of Alex Burmistrov coming back from the KHL, but as you can see from the projection, he'll be a fringe player at best, in my mind.  He could excel, but it just doesn't seem very likely, given the track record of the Europeans going and coming back.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Salary CapThe Jets are still somewhat of a budget team, since they don't really have the building size to bump themselves up a notch or two, but I'm sure, if they were right in that playoff mix, they'll drop some bones on the team at the deadline.  With a couple roster spots left open to the rookies, the Jets, by my count, have 20 players on their projected roster, leaving $15.1 million in cap space for the remainder of the season.

With the better part of their free agents taken care of early, there were no real concerns with the Jets and their salary cap situation.

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