Winnipeg Jets Mid-Term Report Card: Defence, Goal, And Special Teams

Winnipeg Jets grades for the defencemen, goalies, special teams and coaches – 

The “new look” Winnipeg Jets blueline had a pretty decent first half of the season.  The goaltending has been excellent and the Winnipeg Jets have a powerplay.  The penalty killing has improved statistically but they play a passive system that is hard to watch and it’s even harder on the players.  It really counts on a lot of sacrifice from the forwards who are expected to be human targets.  The Jets are also at the top of the league in faceoffs.  At the halfway point in the season, the Jets record is 23-11-7 and I think most Jets fans would take that.

Defencemen: B

This is by far the best group of defencemen we have seen in Winnipeg Jets 2.0 history.  Josh Morrissey has turned into the Jets best and most consistent defenseman and his partner Jacob Trouba has been very good for the most part but prone to a little inconsistency.  There are times I can’t help but wonder if he is fully committed to being a Winnipeg Jets player or if he is looking to get out?  I guess we will see this summer.  The Jets need a happy and committed Jacob Trouba. 

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Dustin Byfuglien has been “good Buff” a lot more than he has been “bad Buff”.  He is still logging big minutes and say what you want about Dustin Byfuglien but when he is ON and playing the “right way” he is still the Jets most complete defenseman.  He has the ability to shut down top players, he is still very good offensively, he is the Winnipeg Jets most physical defenceman, and he has a mean streak.  Buff hasn’t scored a goal so far this season but he is still kicking in his assists. 

Editors note:

Dustin Byfuglien got off the schneid on Friday night with his first goal of the season on a Jets powerplay.  It has never taken Big Buff thirty games to pot his first goal. 

Toby Enstrom is back with Buff and they are a comfortable pairing.  Toby doesn’t provide much offence anymore but he is still an elite puck-mover when he has the puck.  He still struggles with a heavy game and he doesn’t win a lot of puck battles but he is still a useful player.  

The “new look” would be Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba taking on the responsibility of being the top defence pairing.  Also part of the “new look” is the addition of Dmitry Kulikov and a healthy Tyler Myers.  They have been a solid pairing and a very nice surprise.  Ben Chiarot and Tucker Poolman have also played well when needed.

Goaltending: A-  

The numbers speak for themselves.  Conner Hellebuyck’s play so far this season has been the main reason they are fighting for the top spot in the Central Division.  I still think Steve Mason was a solid addition and he will still be an important part of the puzzle going forward.     

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  21-4-5 … 2.37 GAA … .923 SV%          
  • Steve Mason:  2-6-1 … 3.47 GAA … .899 SV%
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Special Teams: B+

Once again the numbers speak for themselves. 

If the two red numbers total at least 100% (as your minimum) when added it is considered average to above average.   

  • PP:  4th at 24.10% … as of Jan. 2  
  • PK:  19th at 80.70% … as of Jan. 2  

Coaches: B+  

When I was highly critical of the Jets special teams I would always blame the coaches.  I still believe that special teams are more about structure and philosophy rather than the players.  Every team has elite players but that doesn’t always translate to good special teams.  So to be fair I have to give the Winnipeg Jets coaching staff credit for having the PK in the middle of the pack and the PP at the top of the league standings.  Let’s give credit where credit is due.  Paul Maurice and his staff aren’t perfect by any stretch but no coaching staff is, especially if you ask their fanbase.  They still make some curious roster decisions, PP combos, shootout choices, etc, etc but being second-guessed is the life of a head coach in a hockey market like Winnipeg.  There is always going to be a lot of scrutiny on the men behind the bench and the Jets brain trust has done a pretty decent job so far.

Intangibles: 

Bell MTS Place is finally a tough place to skate into and get points for opposing teams.  The Jets are a tidy 15-3-1 after Friday’s win over Buffalo.

Grading:

      • The Final grade is just based on play.
      • The ROI grade is the return on investment or bang for your buck.

My criteria:

    • The position and role in the line-up for each game … example: top 6 forward, PP.
    • The amount of ice time and hard minutes … example: playing against top lines, PK.
    • Expectations from coaches, media, and fans.
    • Salary and return on investment (ROI)

With all this being said I believe the following grades are pretty fair with maybe a plus or minus difference here or there.  I didn’t grade players if they played less than half of the games.  

As of Jan. 2, 2018

Please feel free to add your grades or opinions on any player/players you feel I have over-rated or short-changed.  

 

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