Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: Jan. 3

Mitch Kasprick is the “Motown Curmudgeon” aka “Motown Mitch”

Odds and Ends, Thoughts and Questions, from this past week in hockey –

Just so there’s no confusion when I’m spewing my bias, I am a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Ice, and all Team Canada Hockey teams.

I am NOT a fan of Gary Bettman or as I call him, Count Chocula.  I am a big believer in the 7Ps. You’ve been warned.

 

1. Jets:  The Winnipeg Jets finally hit the ice for real in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon after not playing for 13 days and it showed at times in a sloppy, see-saw, 5-4 overtime win versus the Golden Knights.  The Jets record now sits at 15-11-5 and they are 3 points out of the last wildcard position.     [Read more…]

Winnipeg Jets Fans: You Pick Your Team

Hey Winnipeg Jets fans.  It’s your team, you pick it.  Everybody has their favourites and their whipping boys so take this opportunity to pick your Jets team for next season.

[Read more…]

Winnipeg Jets Options and Thoughts For Next Season

Winnipeg Jets changes and possible improvements –

I would like to see the Winnipeg Jets start developing more players on their roster and if that means 4th line deployment so be it.  Roster blocking young players like David Gustafsson, Ville Heinola, Jansen Harkins, and Kristian Vesalainen for aging veterans like Nate Thompson, Trevor Lewis, and Jordie Benn makes no sense. 

Paul Maurice gets criticized for leaning on his aging vets but if Chevy keeps enabling him by signing and/or trading for these types of players Paul Maurice will continue to play them.  So, who is really to blame? 

To be fair I thought Lewis and Thompson did a pretty decent job on the fourth line BUT did they really move the needle enough and were they difference makers?  Hell no.

A fourth line of Gustafsson, Harkins, Vesalainen/Perreault could have probably done the same job while earning valuable experience. 

New vision:  Coaching 

Based on Mark Chipman’s history of loyalty I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the Winnipeg Jets will keep the status quo and Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice will be back next season, but how long is their leash?  I feel both should be on a short leash but probably more so the coach. 

This team is in dire need of a new system.  Paul Maurice needs to implement a system that doesn’t revolve around Connor Hellebuyck facing the most high danger chance in the league and having to make 30 plus saves a every night. 

The system is problematic.  This hybrid man to man system and chasing their check all over the defensive zone looks confusing and it is not working.  Too many players have their backs to the puck while following a man who isn’t a threat.  Maybe this group can’t execute it, whatever, it is not working.

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Paul Maurice’s biggest problem is his infatuation with 35-year-old plugs, he needs to start teaching and trusting the younger players in the organisation.  It was a criminal that Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson were in the AHL and Jansen Harkins was used so sparingly.

Today’s young players are different than young players 20 years ago.  Some of these kids are already playing prominent roles 2-3 years into the league and a lot of them are NHL ready coming right out of junior or college.  Some only need only a half season at the AHL level.  Paul Maurice needs to adapt his thinking on the organisation’s youth.

New vision:  GM

I’m tend to be harder on the GM than I am on the coach but I will concede that Kevin Cheveldayoff might have one of the hardest jobs in the NHL.  Chevy has to contend with no movement clauses, warm weather franchises, and teams that play in States with no State Taxes.  Jets fans were clamoring for him to sign UFA Alex Pietrangelo last summer but was there ever a chance he could have lured Alex Pietrangelo to Winnipeg?  HELL NO.

Of course I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors but Chevy has to be more pro-active and set his sights on trade targets and latch on to him/them like a dog on a bone.  Waiting and hoping for prices to drop around the trade deadline isn’t working.  Overpay if need be, especially if you’re getting the man you want. 

Winnipeg’s fans are smart enough and will understand that’s the price of doing business in this market.  Chevy is a typical Winnipeger, trying to get things wholesale and shopping from the bargain bin.  Enough of the Thompsons, Bitettos, Letestus, and Bourques.

Toronto and Montreal signed older veterans players like Jason Spezza, Cory Perry, and Eric Staal but they were front-line players in their prime not career 4th-liners.  That kind of veteran depth is acceptable and especially at playoff time.

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When it comes to free agency the only way to attract big time free agents is to throw money at them.  It doesn’t cost you assets from your roster, it’s only money.  Yes, this will be tough with a flat cap but so be it.  Figure it out.  If you think a player will move the needle on your roster go get him. 

This might be perceived as a naive notion but the status quo isn’t working.  There isn’t one team that’s ever won a Stanley Cup by just drafting and developing.  D and D is a big part of building a championship team along with trades that improve the team using picks and prospect currency then and augmented with significant UFA signings.  This is a must and Kevin Cheveldayoff has a marginal grade in his trading and and a losing grade in his UFA acquisitions. 

Next season’s roster:

We don’t know who we are protecting and/or losing to Seattle in the expansion draft so let’s just go with what we know now.  Same with trade and UFA targets.  I’ll throw a couple names out there just for conversation.    

 Untouchables: 

  • Connor Hellebuyck 
  • Nikolaj Ehlers
  • Mark Scheifele

Almost untouchable:

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois
  • Ville Heinola
  • Cole Perfetti
  • Dylan Samberg
  • Adam Lowry
  • Kyle Connor … I would be open to shopping him and reinvesting that money. $7,142,857 for 5 more seasons is a lot of money for a one dimensional player that is a defensive liability AND disappears when the games get heavy.  In saying this he is still a very good offensive player and maybe he matures and develops/improves his 200 foot game.  Either way he is still a prime asset.
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UFA targets: 

  • Dougie Hamilton … I’m dreaming but offer him $9,000,000 – $10,000,000.
  • Brandon Montour
  • Mike Reilly
  • Adam Larsson
  • David Savard
  • Jamie Oleksiak

Trade Targets:

  • Seth Jones … with the intention of extending, sign and trade. (I’m not buying into his poor analytics)
  • Josh Manson 
  • Mattais Ekholm … with the intention of extending, sign and trade.   

Lose one to Seattle and/or move and reinvest these dollars:

  • Blake Wheeler … overpaid at $8,250,000 for 3 more seasons but I don’t think he is done yet.   
  • Josh Morrissey … $6,250,000 for 7 more seasons … although I’m fine with bringing him back.
  • Mason Appleton
  • Sami Niku

Re-sign: 

  • Andrew Copp (26-RFA) … if he he doesn’t price himself out of the market. 
  • Laurent Brossoit (28- UFA) … Michail Berdin isn’t ready yet.
  • Neal Pionk (25-RFA) … no-brainer.

Bring back:

  • Dylan DeMelo … borderline untouchable.
  • Jansen Harkins
  • Logan Stanley … major surprise, made great strides.
  • Kristian Vesalainen 

On the fence:

  • Tucker Poolman (27-UFA) … Wait and see and only resign at depth defenceman money.
  • Paul Stastny (35-UFA) … I might re-sign Stastny but it would need to be at a much reduced number. He would be an excellent mentor for Cole Perfetti.
  • Mathieu Perreault (33-UFA) … I have a lot of time for MP.  Try and re-sign on a two-way contract around $1,000,000 or offer him a position within the org.  I could see him working for TNSE in the future. 

Drop back and kick:

  Thank-you for your service but it is time to play the kids. 

  • Nate Thompson (36-UFA)
  • Trevor Lewis (34-UFA)
  • Jordie Benn (33-UFA)
  • Dominic Toninato (27-UFA) … maybe bring him back on a 2-way deal. (UPDATE: Resigned for 2 years)
  • Derek Forbort (29-UFA)
  • Nathan Beaulieu … one more year left at $1,250,000. Should be a buyout candidate but won’t be.

Final thought:

After the dust settles and we analyze this Winnipeg Jets team there is still a lot to like.  It is far, far from a perfect team but it is definitely fixable. 

Paul Maurice needs to adapt and Kevin Cheveldayoff will need to have the best off-season in his tenure as Winnipeg’s GM because next year in the Central Division will be no picnic.  

Colorado, St. Louis, and Minnesota will probably be in the top 3 with improving teams like Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, and Arizona knocking on the door as well.

Readers thoughts:

Please fire off the names of some trade targets and UFAs you would like to see here.  I listed a couple off the top of my head but there is many more options out there.

Post or reply in the comment section.

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Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: May 17

Mitch Kasprick is the “Motown Curmudgeon” aka “Motown Mitch”

Odds and Ends, Thoughts and Questions, from this past week in hockey –

Just so there’s no confusion when I’m spewing my bias, I am a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Ice, and all Team Canada Hockey teams.

I am NOT a fan of Gary Bettman or as I call him, Count Chocula.  I am a big believer in the 7Ps. You’ve been warned. 

1. Jets:  The Winnipeg Jets won 2 out of 3 home games last week to end their season at 30-23-3.  After a horrible stretch of losing the Jets finished their regular season on a semi-positive note winning 3 of their last 5 games.  They now head into their first-round playoff match-up versus the heavily favoured Edmonton Oilers and most Jets fans are hoping this isn’t Jets 1.0 all over again.   

Who wins the Jets vs Oilers series?

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2. Jets:  Well it is playoff time and Jets fans are really hoping to see playoff Pierre-Luc Dubois.  I expect PLD and Adam Lowry to be huge factors in this series.   

3. JetsI love watching the IIHF World Championships but having Cole Perfetti on Team Canada makes it even more interesting.  CONGRATS COLE!

4. Moose:  The Manitoba Moose finished their season going 0-2-1-1 versus Belleville and had their streak of consecutive games gaining points snapped at 13.  Their overall record ended up being a solid 18-13-3-2 on the season.  This Moose team was a lot of fun to watch this season.  

5. Jets:  Poll Question:  Should Chevy cut a deal with Seattle GM Ron Francis so the Jets don’t lose a player off their roster in the expansion draft?  In the 2017 Vegas expansion draft the Jets and Vegas cut a deal where the Golden Knights would select Chris Thorburn’s expiring contract.  In the deal they flip-flopped 1st rounders with Winnipeg acquiring the 24th pick (from Vegas, from Columbus) in the 2017 NHL Draft in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and the Jets third-round selection in 2019.  

Will Chevy or should Chevy cut a deal with Seattle GM Ron Francis so the Jets don't lose a player in the expansion draft?

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6. NHL:  The Tampa Bay Lightning roster is currently $17,000,000 (approx) over the salary cap but the NHL doesn’t have cap restrictions for the playoffs.  Teams always find a loophole and this one looks real bad on the NHL.  This will need to be addressed because right now there are a lot of really pissed off GMs.

7. Jets:  Special teams are huge come playoff time.  The Jets PK looks to be solid but defending against the Oilers PP is a tall order and the best defence against this is to stay out of the penalty box.  I have to admit I’m concerned about the Jets PP and the way it has stagnated down the stretch.  Hopefully the officials don’t turn this into a special teams battle and we see lots of 5 on 5 hockey.   

8. Jets:  Kyle Connor has started scoring again and it couldn’t have come at a getter time.  The Winnipeg Jets need him scoring because that is his biggest contribution to this team.  If he’s not scoring he doesn’t really contribute much else.      

9. Jets:  I believe this Winnipeg team is better equipped to beat the McDavid Oilers than Jets 1.0 were to beat the Gretzky Oilers.  Those Gretzky teams were definitely better than our Jets BUT in spite of Winnipeg’s record against them this season I don’t think this Oilers team is better than our Jets.  Of course the Jets will need to be at their best and the coaches will need to implement a winning game plan but I think we can win this series.  (see #1)  

10. Jets:  The line of Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Blake Wheeler have an opportunity to change the narrative that they are done as a top line.  Hopefully a healthy Blake Wheeler can get them playing the way they did a couple of years ago against Nashville.   

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11. JetsRight now, to start the playoffs I would prefer seeing Logan Stanley in the 3rd pairing over Tucker Poolman.  I’ve been really down on Poolman in the second half of this season.  If you’re a regular reader here I’m sure you are aware of that.  I haven’t been kind to him.   

12. NHL:  Key dates.

  • May 15 – Playoffs begin
  • July 15 – The latest the Stanley Cup can be awarded
  • July 17 – Expansion draft protection lists tentatively due
  • July 21 – Expansion draft
  • July 23-24 – 2021 NHL Entry Draft
  • July 28 – Free agency opens

13. Jets:  Is Paul Maurice’s or Kevin Cheveldayoff’s job in jeopardy?

After being swept in the second round by Montreal should heads roll?

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14. Jets:  Based on practice pairings ahead of Wednesday’s game one vs Edmonton it looks like the defensive pairings could be:

Morrissey/DeMelo

Forbort/Pionk

Stanley/Benn      

15. Jets:  Playoff Schedule

1. Wednesday May 19 at Edmonton 8:00 PM 

2. Friday  May 21 at Edmonton 8:00 PM 

3. Sunday May 23  vs Edmonton 6:30 PM

4. Monday May 24 vs Edmonton 8:45 PM

5. Wednesday May 26 at Edmonton TBD  (if necessary)

6. Friday May 28 vs Edmonton TBD  (if necessary)

7. Sunday May 30 at Edmonton TBD  (if necessary)

16. Jets:  The biggest question in town is will Nikolaj “don’t call me Nik” Ehlers be dressed for game one?  All Jets fans have our fingers crossed because this is a different and much better team with Ehlers in the lineup.  Outside of Helle, he might be (he is) our best player.  

17. Jets:  Special Teams: Rule of thumb. Have the two red numbers (PK and PP) total at least 100% when added (as your minimum).  I also base the movement (up or down) on the % and not the NHL ranking.

Final regular season Canadian Division rankings.

  • PP: 2nd at 23.00% down from 23.90% last week.
  • PK: 3rd at 80.50 up from 79.90% last week. 
  • FO: 3rd at 50.50 up from 50.20% last week.

18. Jets:  It took all season but it looks like Dylan DeMelo will be paired with Josh Morrissey going into the playoffs.  They played together down the stretch and looked very comfortable, just like they were last season.  I’ve also liked when Paul Maurice has paired Neal Pionk together with Morrissey when they need to push the pace and need offence.     

19. Goaltending:

Final regular season stats:

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  24-17-3 … 2.58 GAA … .916 SV% 
  • Laurent Brossoit:  6-6-0 … 2.42 GAA … .918 SV%

20. Jets:  For me, Jordy Benn has been a lot better than expected.  He provides a physical presence and moves the puck better than I thought.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts in game on versus the Oilers.  (see #14)  

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In memory of my friend Darryl Manchulenko.

If you have any questions, please give me a shout. You can use the comment section or use the #ASKWHTPOD hashtag on Twitter.

If you like our new format, let us know in the comment section or hit me on Twitter at WpgSportsTalk or WpgHockTalk

If you are interested in writing for Winnipeg Sports Talk or if you know somebody interested, please contact us at:

winnipeghockeytalk@gmail.com

We are looking for writers to cover the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, The Winnipeg ICE, Manitoba Bisons, Winnipeg AAA, MJHL, MMJHL, KIJHL, and Winnipeg High School or any sports team in town.

If you have any thoughts on any of these comments or questions, please let me know. We would love to hear your opinions.

Thanks, Mitch
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Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: May 10

Mitch Kasprick is the “Motown Curmudgeon” aka “Motown Mitch”

Odds and Ends, Thoughts and Questions, from this past week in hockey –

Just so there’s no confusion when I’m spewing my bias, I am a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Ice, and all Team Canada Hockey teams.

I am NOT a fan of Gary Bettman or as I call him, Count Chocula.  I am a big believer in the 7Ps. You’ve been warned. 

1. Jets:  When it comes to hiring and firing, player deployment, and prospect development hockey franchises always play the long game and don’t run their teams like how fans run their fantasy hockey rosters.  In the NHL, teams deal with real people and real money.  Fans, including me often have takes or opinions based on recent events that aren’t realistic.  I am trying real hard to stay balanced but this team is making it very hard.       

2. Jets:  Thank goodness it is over.  The Winnipeg Jets snapped their worst losing streak in Jets 2.0 history vs Calgary thanks to a solid 4-0 victory over an uninspired Flames team.  The Winnipeg Jets went 1-2 last week but continued their uninspired play at home.  While other teams are peaking for the playoffs, the Jets are limping in and look like a team that wants to just get the playoffs started.  The Jets now sit at 28-22-3. 

3. JetsThe Jets only have 6 more wins than the youthful Ottawa Senators.  Let that marinate for a few minutes.   

4. Moose:  The Manitoba Moose had a great week in Toronto sweeping the 3-game series with the Marlies and improved their overall record to 18-11-2-1 on the season.  Cole Perfetti is on a heater right now putting up 5 goals, 11 assists in his last 10 games.

5. Jets:  Poll Question:  Should Chevy cut a deal with Seattle GM Ron Francis so the Jets don’t lose a player off their roster in the expansion draft?  In the 2017 Vegas expansion draft the Jets and Vegas cut a deal where the Golden Knights would select Chris Thorburn’s expiring contract.  In the deal they flip-flopped 1st rounders with Winnipeg acquiring the 24th pick (from Vegas, from Columbus) in the 2017 NHL Draft in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and the Jets third-round selection in 2019.  

Will Chevy or should Chevy cut a deal with Seattle GM Ron Francis so the Jets don't lose a player in the expansion draft?

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6. NHL:  I’m sorry Leaf fans but Connor McDavid is and should be the unanimous winner of the Hart Trophy.  Auston Matthews has had a very good season but if one media member from the Toronto media votes for Auston Matthews it shows that they really don’t understand the award and should have their credentials revoked.  If the Oilers didn’t have McDavid they would be a lottery team, if the Leafs didn’t have Matthews they would still be a solid playoff team.  End of story.

7. Moose:  The Manitoba Moose have now extended their streak of earning points to 11-consecutive games (10-0-01) after a 4-3 win versus the Marlies on Sunday afternoon.  Is is too bad there is no AHL playoffs because the Moose would be going into the playoffs playing the right way unlike the parent club.

8. Jets:  Kyle Connor has disappeared.  It was 8 games ago that he put up his last point and his effort level is less than inspiring.  I would trade him for Patrik Laine in a heartbeat.        

9. Jets:  Ville Heinola got into a couple games this past week and for the most part played very well.  The thing the impresses me about his game is that he doesn’t seem to get rattled.  He is going to be a special player.    

10. Jets:  I think Adam Lowry is a very underappreciated, underrated cog in the Jets engine and it was very noticeable when he was on the IR during their streak from hell.  Lowry is definitely the straw that stirs the drink on one of the best third lines in the NHL.  

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11. NHL:  Jeff Carter is starting to get comfortable in Pittsburg and looks to be a nice trade deadline addition.  Carter has put up 9 points in his past 10 games for the Pens in a secondary role.  Not bad.    

12. NHL:  Key dates.

  • May 16 – End of the regular season
  • May ?? – Playoffs begin
  • July 15 – The latest the Stanley Cup can be awarded
  • July 17 – Expansion draft protection lists tentatively due
  • July 21 – Expansion draft
  • July 23-24 – 2021 NHL Entry Draft
  • July 28 – Free agency opens

13. Jets:  Is Paul Maurice’s or Kevin Cheveldayoff’s job in jeopardy?

After being swept in the second round by Montreal should heads roll?

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14. Jets:  This won’t be a very popular take but I’m old school and I believe there is some truth to this.  The Winnipeg Jets need more CHLers and less USHL/NCAA pretty boys.  To be clear I’m not talking about nationality but style of play in these leagues.                 

15. Jets:  Schedule

Monday May 10 vs Vancouver 7:00 PM

Tuesday May 11 vs Vancouver 7:00 PM 

Friday  May 14 vs Toronto 7:00 PM 

16. Jets:  Tucker Poolman was back at home in the third pairing on Saturday night but it didn’t seem to help, he was still pretty bad.  It will be interesting to see what the Jets do this off-season with Poolman who is a pending UFA.  I don’t see any room for him on next year’s roster.  In my opinion, he is/will be behind Josh Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo, Neal Pionk, Logan Stanley, Ville Heinola, Dylan Samberg, and the Jets still have Nate Beaulieu and Sami Niku under contract for next season.

17. Jets:  Special Teams: Rule of thumb. Have the two red numbers (PK and PP) total at least 100% when added (as your minimum).  I also base the movement (up or down) on the % and not the NHL ranking.

These are the Winnipeg Jets rankings within the seven team Canadian Division.  Since all games played during the regular season are divisional the rest of the league’s numbers don’t really matter.

  • PP: 2nd at 23.90% down from 25.00% last week.
  • PK: 3rd at 79.90 up from 79.10% last week. 
  • FO: 5th at 50.20 up from 49.90% last week.

18. Jets:  Right now I would part ways with Charlie Huddy before I would fire Paul Maurice. 

19. Goaltending:

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  22-17-3 … 2.66 GAA … .914 SV% 
  • Laurent Brossoit:  6-5-0 … 2.36 GAA … .920 SV%

20. Jets:  I have to admit I was on the fence when it came to David Gustafsson but the more I see him the more I like him.  At the NHL level I think he probably tops out as a 3rd line center at best and there is nothing wrong with that.  He has 6 goals and 11 assists in his 18 games played for the Moose and might have some offensive upside at the next level.  I think he is more than capable of playing in Nate Thompson’s role next season.

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In memory of my friend Darryl Manchulenko.

If you have any questions, please give me a shout. You can use the comment section or use the #ASKWHTPOD hashtag on Twitter.

If you like our new format, let us know in the comment section or hit me on Twitter at WpgSportsTalk or WpgHockTalk

If you are interested in writing for Winnipeg Sports Talk or if you know somebody interested, please contact us at:

winnipeghockeytalk@gmail.com

We are looking for writers to cover the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, The Winnipeg ICE, Manitoba Bisons, Winnipeg AAA, MJHL, MMJHL, KIJHL, and Winnipeg High School or any sports team in town.

If you have any thoughts on any of these comments or questions, please let me know. We would love to hear your opinions.

Thanks, Mitch

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