How to improve the Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets vs San Jose Sharks

So little time to fill so many holes. The Winnipeg Jets season is coming to a close with the team missing the playoffs once again.

The season has played out like the last three, up and down moments throughout the season. It’s hard to pin point a specific reason as to why the Jets find themselves out of the playoffs for a third straight year.

There are many ways to improve the team because every area of this team needs to be improved.

Improve the Goaltending Situation

Let’s admit it, it’s not working.

To have success in the NHL a team must have a solid goaltender. Ondrej Pavelec has not been a good goalie for the Jets this year nor has he ever shown to be a solid option as the starting goalie for the Jets. Pavelec has the 35th Goals against average in the league (2.97).

Pavelec also has a 35th Save percentage in the NHL (.902).

The proof is in the pudding here – Pavelec is not getting the job done.

It’s time to get rid of Pavelec, right?

Well, it’s not that easy. Unfortunately, Pavelec has a cap hit of $3.9 million which is very hard to trade considering the poor play from Pavelec. Along with that after this season, he is signed for an additional two seasons.

The easiest way to improve the goaltending situation is too get another goalie to compete with Pavelec for the starting job. This creates competition between the two goalies and pushes each goalie to improve.

If the Jets find another goalie that they can trust, the Jets could see a substantial improvement in the team’s goaltending.

Improve Depth at Forward

The depth at forward is thin. It has been apparent that this team lacks depth in all areas of the team but with the Scheifele injury, the lack of depth at forward becomes quite obvious.

The team does not have an elite player nor does it have a clear-cut “best” player.

Therefore, the team needs to have depth on all four lines to make up for that and be successful.

They need players that can produce and contribute in areas beside goals. The Jets fourth line is counterproductive on both ends and does not provide much energy.

It seems as though the bottom two lines aren’t producing on a team where the top players are not top players in the NHL.

The bottom six needs a facelift.

If the Jets had an opportunity to sign or trade for a top six caliber player, I would say they should make the deal. When Mark Scheifele was injured, the lack of depth really showed.

Olli Jokinen can not do much in a top six role despite his lucrative 4.5 mil cap hit.

The Jets are 2-8 since Mark Scheifele got injured.

One player’s injury should not have that much of an effect on a team.

The Jets should find a solid third line centre who can provide offence and  step in to a top six role if needed. Also, bottom six scoring needs to be improved so as many bottom six forwards the team can acquire, the better.

Continue to Draft and Develop

Drafting and developing is the key to making a team successful in the long run.

I previously wrote about this in my article Jets vs Thrashers – Drafting and Developing. In three years Kevin Cheveldayoff has accomplished more than people give him credit for.

No, I’m not talking about Devin Setoguchi folks. I’m talking about the way he has added depth to the system.

When Chevy inherited the Thrashers he didn’t have much to work with. That’s including the team itself and the players in the system and in the Juniors.

In three years the Jets have added solid prospects and a good foundation that is developing to become the future Jets.

Strengthen the D Core

The Jets D Core is not the strongest in the NHL. They don’t have a number one caliber defenseman.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian ($5.1 million cap hit) and Tobias Enstrom ($5.7 million cap hit) are certainly paid like top caliber defencemen but don’t perform that way.

I’m not saying the team needs to acquire an all star defenseman to strengthen the core, though it would for sure improve it. An easier way to improve the core would be to get deeper at the position.

Upcoming UFA’s like Nick Schultz and Douglas Murray could be good additions to address that area.

The goaltending performance this year has not been ideal but a lot of the blame can be directed towards the Defenseman as well. Offensive production isn’t what needs to be improved – it’s the defensive play and the quality of defenseman that needs to be upgraded this offseason.

Who knows, maybe Jacob Trouba will become a number one caliber defenseman next year.

Make a splash

Kevin Cheveldayoff is not the most active general manager in regards to trades.

He has yet to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal that would make a serious impact.

Whether it’s signing a high quality free agent or trading for a high value player, it’s really time for Kevin Cheveldayoff to make a splash. It is very hard to lure a high value free agent to Winnipeg because as we all know Winnipeg is not the most desirable destination for Free Agents ready to cash in on a big pay day.

So the easy route would be to complete a trade.

Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to give up something good to get something good.

At the trade deadline he was reluctant to trade future assets, which is understandable, because the trade deadline these days has turned in to a rental players trade deadline. But this offseason the Jets need to make a move.

It’s evident that this “core” isn’t getting the job done, so pieces need to be added.

This also could be an opportunity to entertain the possibility of trading a core piece.

For instance, Evander Kane is a potential trade.

Rumours of Kane being traded have been swirling around since the Thrashers have come to Winnipeg. On the draft floor and throughout the offseason talks could heat up and teams could offer something that would allow the Jets to cash in on a nice return.

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A High School Student who loves the game of hockey but especially the Winnipeg Jets, you can follow me on twitter at @officialjetfuel.