It’s no secret by now Winnipeg plans to become a contender in the NHL. Build from within, retain their star players and then tinker with the supporting cast around them. With that in mind and with the Jets out of the postseason the attention shifts to the immediate future out on the Rock.
The St. John’s IceCaps finished second in the East and disposed of the seventh seeded Syracuse Crunch in four games. They split the first two on the road before coming home and taking both games in front of a sold out crowd clad in white. While the debate of whether or not the Whiteout should return when the Jets make the playoffs will be left for another day, the Caps management obviously saw the benefit in it and have implemented it for the remainder of playoff games this year.
Playoff experience at the AHL level is the next best thing to experience at the NHL level and no doubt the reason why first round draft pick Mark Scheifele was added to the roster after his Barrie Colts were eliminated from the OHL playoffs. He joins the likes of Patrice Cormier, Spencer Machacek, Paul Postma and Eddie Pasquale. These are just some of the talented prospects that have shined for the Caps all year and with the exception of Pasquale will all get a good look at making the Jets next year out of camp.
The chances of the Jets signing a Zach Parise or Ryan Suter are slim because they feel they have some good NHL ready prospects ready to make the jump. Gone are the days of rushing a player into the lineup like what was done with Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov. Both are highly skilled but have been forced to learn the pro game at the highest of levels. Imagine if you had to learn how to ride a bike by going down a mountain? You might succeed but there is a greater chance you will crash and burn.
If I had to predict now my guess is Mark Schiefele will be back in Barrie, Ivan Telegin will be in St. John’s and whichever prospect they pick ninth overall will remain with their junior team. This is the method that successful teams like the Detroit Red Wings have implemented for years. Remember Yzerman’s early years and the teams he played on? That was when they began to develop from within and it wasn’t until his later years that pieces were in place and ready. Sure they have added pieces but the majority were home-grown.
That is why Jets fans should be following closely what the IceCaps do this season, they will be the players that help bring a championship to Peg City, perhaps not until the likes of Evander Kane are in the later stages of his career but patience and persistence have a way of paying off still. Even in a league of blockbuster trades and big free agent signings.
So Jets fans lets never forget the reason we will get there and never stop supporting our St. John’s IceCaps.
GO CAPS GO!