Winnipeg Jets Year End Report Card: Forwards

Winnipeg Jets Report Card for the Final Quarter: Forwards — 

The Winnipeg Jets season is over and they have missed the playoffs again albeit in the tougher Western Conference.  I also must point out that the Western Conference lost the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings to the Eastern Conference and the Jets competition was reduced by two good teams, so where does this season compare to the previous two years?  The Winnipeg Jets record after 82 games was  37 – 35 – 10.  Eight games below the real .500.  Usually a real .500 will get you into the playoffs, so they weren’t really all that far away. 

Most grading systems I’ve seen just do a basic grading of the forwards, the defencemen and the goaltending in groups.  I wanted to try something different by evaluating each player based only on his play and then evaluating his play based on his salary.  This is not very scientific and at times not very fair.  Ron Hainsey was a prime example of that during his time in Winnipeg.  Olli Jokinen has seen his share of criticism too based on his salary.  After years of coaching and scouting, I just look at the game a little differently than I used to as a fan.  You’d almost think the money was coming directly out of my own pocket.  As a season ticket holder, I guess a miniscule part of it is.  

My Criteria

1. The players position and roll in the line-up for each game … example: top  6 forward, PP.

2. The amount of ice time and hard minutes. example: playing against top lines, PK.

3. Expectations from coaches, media, fans, etc.

4. Salary or “Return On Investment” (ROI).  This may seem unfair and not very popular with the mainstream media but in 1990 the NHLPA decided to introduce salary disclosure.  This was to give the players some negotiating leverage when comparing their salary with comparable players around the league.

With NHL salaries now readily available to anyone, it has now opened up the players to public scrutiny so there is no hiding your salary from the fans.  I’ve heard lots of fans on talk radio or social media state they could care less what a player makes.  That’s fine and that is their prerogative but player salaries impact your favorite team greatly.  Over-paying under producing players impacts the teams ability to make trades, sign FA’s, etc. so salary should not be taken lightly. This report is just another in a long line of different opinions from different sources.  Agree or agree to disagree is fine by me.

Keep in mind, the first grade is based strictly on what you see on the ice.  The second grade, ROI, is based on whether I think the player is earning his salary or is the team getting the appropriate “bang for their buck”

Under “Salary” column, you will notice this years salary along with the “cap hit” courtesy of capgeek.com/jets 

Winnipeg Jets 2013-14 Forwards

I have to admit I really liked the addition of Dustin Byfuglien to the forward line.  For me he seemed more engaged, much more physical and he played with a different edge in his game.  The best part is the Jets were still able to use his offensive talents on the point on  power-play.  Big Buff stated during his exit interviews that he would like to go back to playing defence but he’ll do whatever the team needs him to do.

For me the Winnipeg Jets two best forwards were Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little with an honourable mention to Michael Frolik.  Some how Paul Maurice (just resigned today) will have to somehow convince Blake Wheeler that the month of October is actually November if you know what I’m getting at.  Wheeler could be a point per game player in he got off to better starts. 

FORWARDFINAL

 

February 27, 2014-Jets-Coyotes-14

Blake Wheeler had a very good year.                photo by Shawn Coates

I stated this at the mid-term report and also at the 3/4 pole report and nothing really has changed, but when a hockey team is on the wrong end of as many one goal hockey games as the Winnipeg Jets, the odd goal from the 4th line could be huge.  The Winnipeg Jets fourth line is unacceptable and needs to be addressed this off-season. 

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