Sunday, October 2, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Winnipeg Jets

How can anyone not be excited for what will go on this season in Winnipeg? It is so great to see that city back in the NHL, and the team may be pretty good to show for it. Kevin Cheveldayoff didn't do much to change the Thrashers roster from a season ago, and that one was pretty good for half a season. Can the Jets make the postseason in their first year "back" in Winnipeg?

Strengths: There is a ton of great youth on this team, and it is mixed with a good amount of veteran leadership. Zach Bogosian, Alexander Burmistrov, Bryan Little, and some of the young veterans, including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and others are the centerpieces of a young, but talented roster. They can score and dazzle with their skill and talent. They have that in many places on this roster, and that is a good thing considering what happened to this team a year ago, when they were close to something but lost their legs towards the end of the season. It seems like this could be the perfect group for a new team in a new city. In net, Ondrej Pavelec had a big season last year, and if he can continue that torrid pace he may be able to become one of the better goaltenders in this league. He too is young; he's only 24 years old. They may be a very young team, but they don't play like one.

Weaknesses: Even though the youth is very promising, there is still unrealized potential in many of them, especially Zach Bogosian. He needs to realize his potential at some point, which is nearly boundless. Bryan Little had a big season in 2008-09, but can he have a big season this year? What about Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien? Don't forget Pavelec, who could be due for a letdown, even though he still is very, very good. Combine that with the new system of Claude Noel, and there is a possibility that this team could fall short again.

Any Help Coming? C Mark Scheifele was drafted this season, and he has very good potential to become a well rounded centermen for this Jets squad. He logs big minutes, and big points too. LW Carl Klingberg has great work ethic and great skills as well, but he needs to develop patience and consistency if he wants to totally realize his potential. C Patrice Cormier is very well rounded, even though he may not be the most gifted prospect in the world.

Outlook: It may still feel like the Jets won the Stanley Cup, simply because they are back in Winnipeg. However the on-ice product could be a bit of a boom or bust thing. They have great potential to become a playoff team, but they could also be the team that finishes 12th or 13th in the East. There are plenty of questions as to how this will come together, but it still may be a successful season in Winnipeg regardless of what happens on the ice.

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