With the Winnipeg Jets season over, and a little more time to sit and evaluate each player beyond just the Jets studs and duds, I had a look at all the players and gave them each a grade. Unlike the CBC’s report card I took a little harder stance from a fans perspective. Let’s start with the front line.
Frolik played a strong two way game throughout the course of the season. He was effective in every role he played in. He was one of the Jets’ strongest penalty kill players. Frolik showed the ability to be able to play in any type of situation.
Halischuk started out the year on a line with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik. The trio thrived, providing nice secondary scoring and good energy. Halischuk suffered a forearm injury that held him out for a substantial amount of time. When he came back from injury, he lost his groove and ended the season poorly.
After a disastrous 2012-2013 campaign, Jokinen bounced back and scored 43 points in 82 games. He was a contributor to the team this year as opposed to last year where he proved to be irrelevant at times. He provided a veteran presence to a young team. Jokinen did not live up to his 4.5 cap hit on his salary but for the right price, Jokinen returning would be a good idea.
It was an uneventful season for Evander Kane. The former 30-goal scorer did not provide the scoring punch needed from his team. The speedy winger had a hard time finding the back of the net and was hard for him to be visible some nights. It was not the best season for the player that will be highest paid player on the Jets next year
Captain Ladd finished the year with a solid 54 points in 78 games. He continued to lead by example with his stellar work ethic. Ladd elevates his game in do or die situations and is a great player in the shootout. This year he didn’t score points consistently throughout the year like he usually does. Although he had his fair share of slumps he had an overall good season.
Heading into the season fresh off his newly signed long term contract, people still had doubts with Bryan Little. This year he lived up to his contract. Little put up 64 points in 82 games, making him the Jets’ most consistent player this year. He never took a shift off and was reliable on both ends of the ice.
Through 30 games this season, Eric O’Dell impressed me. He was called up and he worked his way up the lineup and found himself occasionally playing alongside Evander Kane. The future looks bright for O’Dell and if he continues to improve his game in the offseason, Jets fans could see more of O’Dell next year.
In my books, Anthony Peluso is one of the leagues’ best fighters. I think he is a good fourth line right wing moving forward and a better player than Chris Thorburn in this spot. Peluso showed he could provide energy with his big hits and gritty play. Then again, he also showed along with his fourth line linemates that he cannot be trusted defensively and because of that he did not see much action.
Despite a slow start, Mark Scheifele had an impressive rookie campaign. Scheifele showed off his playmaking ability and great vision. It was hard for him to win puck battles and he often found himself getting thrown around. Nevertheless the progress he showed on ice was impressive. He was relied upon in both ends of the ice and showed that he has the potential to be a number one centre in the years to come. Unfortunately his season was cut short with an MCL injury. At the pace he was going he could have been at the top of the list for rookie scoring at seasons end. Scheifele will need to bulk up in the offseason because it is evident that his body hasn’t adjusted to the physical part of the NHL game.
It seems like Devin Setoguchi’s time in Winnipeg has come to a close, which is a good thing. Setoguchi was traded to the Jets for a second round pick. A lucrative price for a player who was a healthy scratch numerous times. He did not provide the scoring punch that was needed from him.
Slater could not stay healthy throughout the year and was limited to only 27 games this year. Slater is a very effective PK player and very good on faceoffs. He is a good bottom 6 player when healthy but unfortunately he has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career
Tangradi was unable to provide anything positive from the fourth line. His lack of speed and poor defensive play really held him back and because of this he found himself with stints in the press box. Tangradi has not turned out to be the energy player the Jets traded for.
Thorburn had the same old season and continued his role as the team’s enforcer. Except this year with the injury to Evander Kane, Thorburn got to play on the second line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. He couldn’t exactly keep up but his style of play isn’t really suited for those two types of players.
Wheeler had a great year for the Jets, leading the team in points with 69 points. Wheeler emerged as the team’s best player and when he was engaged in the game he was one of the elite power forwards in the league. He was also named to Team USA for the Olympics. Overall, Wheeler enjoyed a year of success and truly led by example.
Wright was arguably the team’s worst player. He didn’t score a goal in 59 games and could not score on some easy opportunities. Wright should be prepared for a stint in the minors if he doesn’t substantially step up his game next year.
F Grade: B
D Grade: D
I gave Byfuglien two separate grades because he played two different types of game in the year. Byfuglien has the talent of racking up large amounts of points from the point but his defensive play is shaky at best. Once he was converted to forward he became a powerful force. Though he stated he would prefer to start out next season as a defence, Coach Paul Maurice stated he would start out the year at forward, which I think is the right move.
After signing his new seven-year contract with the Jets, Bogosian did not have the season the Jets were hoping for. Due to injuries Bogosian was held to only 55 games. When he was healthy, speculation began that Bogosian was still playing hurt. Whatever the case, Bogosian seemed distracted and was not at the top of his game. He is going to need to have a good and productive offseason. It’s time for the former first round pick to show that he deserves his lucrative contract.
This season did not go according to plan for Clitsome. This was another case of a defenceman being injured with him being restricted to 32 games. Even when he was healthy Clitsome had his struggles. Overall the 2013-2014 season is one to forget for Grant Clitsome.
I thought Ellerby had a good season. Sure he makes some mistakes but I thought overall it was a good season for the waiver wire pickup. He was a pretty good defensive defenceman for the club.
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Toby Enstrom, especially because he has a 5.7 cap hit on his salary. I think he is overpaid and one of the worst players with the puck on the team. It baffles me he is on the powerplay. Still, Enstrom is a good player in the defensive zone and had a decent year. I think he needs to show more that he deserves that big money.
Pardy finished the year strong and even showed he has some more tools in his toolbox. His big body and defensive style of play is serviceable when he is at the top of his game. Otherwise he finds himself a seat in the press box.
I was very impressed by Postma’s play this year. Postma has proved to me he can be a full time player with the Jets and he does not need much more seasoning. His defensive mechanics could be tweaked but an offseason of hard work could find Postma starting the year up with the big club.
Redmond played well when he was with the Jets. It hasn’t been an easy road for Redmond. After a gruesome cut to the leg, Redmond has had a quick road to recovery. Redmond has had to adjust to the speed of the game. In the offseason he will have time to improve his conditioning and the speed of the game might not be a problem to him. I was impressed by his play on both ends of the ice. I wouldn’t be surprised is Redmond started out the year with the team. He carried the puck up the ice in to the offensive zone very well in the last couple of games.
I am giving Stuart a B- because I think he exceeded expectations. He is one of the hardest working players on the team and his effort was rewarded with a new four-year contract. Stuart showed that he can log big minutes on the back end and was a good mentor to young stud Jacob Trouba.
Jacob Trouba had an impressive rookie campaign. He logged big minutes and contributed on both ends of the ice. Trouba lead all rookies with minutes per game. Trouba is only 20 years old but his play at times made him seem like a 10 year NHL veteran. Don’t be surprised if you see Trouba on the Calder Trophy ballot.
A team’s success usually depends on the success of their goaltender. Can you name a team that won a Stanley Cup without a solid goaltender? I doubt it. Pavelec’s numbers were shaky, at best. He finished with a 22-26-7 record. His GAA (3.01) was awful and finished 69th in the NHL. His posted a poor SV% of .901. That is 70th in the NHL. The numbers are scary especially because he has a 3.9 mil cap hit on his contract. The scariest thing is Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s reassurance of Pavelec’s role as starting goalie. It’s obvious that a change has to be made and I’m not too sure Al Montoya is the answer to the problem
Al Montoya is a lifelong journeyman backup in the NHL. This year, he was a solid backup who actually had a better season than the starting goalie. Montoya finished with a 13-8-3 record. Montoya’s 2.30 GAA finished 23rd in the NHL. His 9.20 SV% finished 30th in the league. Not bad numbers for a backup goaltender. I’m not certain Montoya will be back next year. A team could offer him a ridiculous offer that the Jets should have no intentions of matching. Also, the Jets might want to move in a younger direction with their goaltending. That could mean acquiring a younger backup to split time with Pavelec.
Let’s hope that the 2014-15 season turns out a little better for the Winnipeg Jets. How would you have graded the players this past season?
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