Getting a franchise forward in this year's draft was an amazing win for this organization and something they could really hang their hat on coming into the season. The Jets have had (and still have) good players on their roster, but these players have failed to carry the load for them, lead the way and/or show them the light. This is where Patrik Laine is aiming to succeed, as he has tremendous skill and a personality, to boot.
Now, if the Jets could sort out their goaltending situation, possibly someone else to assume most of the minutes, rather than wait for Ondrej Pavelec to go back on the shelf again, this team might really be able to find more wins. One step at a time, I suppose, but I would have to think that it should be a priority.
As for us hockey poolies, I think there is a real strength in this Jets side heading into the 2017 season and I'm projecting those numbers to suggest that. They will have to come out swinging this year, because no one in their division is going to let them go with a simple pass.
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
It is quite something to ponder, that Blake Wheeler was worthy of a 1st round pick in last season's pool. That's right, he finished 16th in pool scoring, 7th among all forwards and he just quietly did it among his Winnipeg chums. He did finish 32nd overall in pool scoring back in 2014, so it was sort of in there, but it still seems a bit shocking that you could have taken him as a 1st rounder and come away not looking like a fool.
That makes him into quite the intriguing player, leading up to this year's draft, because I could ask you for 27 NHL players that you would consider taking in the 1st round of the hockey pool draft and would Blake Wheeler be in that group? At last year's draft, Wheeler slipped all the way down to the 4th round and look what kind of bargain he turned out to be. No surprise, he was the best player taken in that round.
First Round Picks
Well, I'd hate to let the cat out of the bag, but he is in the conversation this year. I don't exactly have him trending upwards, rather plateauing, staying in that 75-point range, which isn't trying to be a sleight against him, rather he hasn't instilled me with much confidence that he has more in the tank. As of now, he is the only 1st rounder that I have for Winnipeg, although Mark Scheifele is close and I think he's meant to belong there more.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
There's no question that the Jets' forward crew got a whole lot more exciting by winning the rights to Patrik Laine, especially when you have guys like Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault and Drew Stafford around as solid veterans. Nikolaj Ehlers continues to show why he should be considered an exciting player to watch, but only in spits and spurts, so far. The Jets will certainly have lots to offer, when it comes to their forwards.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The big man, Dustin Byfuglien, will certainly be drawing some attention early on in the draft and Tyler Myers is certainly finding his way with the Jets, while Toby Enstrom has seemingly found a backseat role, which the team may or may not be comfortable with, it's really hard to tell. Jacob Trouba is still awaiting a new deal, but when one comes his way, he is in line for a big season, one would think.
The crease is awfully crowded for the Jets, although one of these keepers will probably find his way to the minors, dealt away in a trade or lost on waivers at one point, but to start the season, it will be a question of who starts. This is my spot to guess and I am thinking that the Jets still want Ondrej Pavelec to be the guy, but the split might not work in his favour. I think the Jets will improve this season, but Pavelec might not reap all of those benefits, as Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck will still be around to pick up some time.
Team To Pick From?
The Jets may have some players to offer in those lower rounds, when everythiing gets picked apart in the first 10-to-12 rounds and their defense could play a large part of that as well. Depending on where you see a couple of those blueliners, they could really take a cue from some of their teammates and have a good season.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Yes, Jacob Trouba is a big piece still left unsigned, now into the middle of August. By no means is he the biggest RFA out there, but his name has been batted around in the rumour mill and could find some traction, if the team can't come to terms on a bridge or long-term deal for him. There's no doubt that the 21-year old has some potential, I think the Jets are more willing to pay for what they've seen so far.
It's not that the Jets couldn't fit him underneath the cap ceiling, no that isn't the case at all. They have to find a way to fit him in under their own budget numbers. With over $10 million in overall cap space, it is the real dollars and cents that come into play here.
Doesn't look like there should be anything holding back this current batch of Jets players. Let's get the season started already!