The core group of this team is young, talented and promising. two of them have already won Stanley Cups (Ladd, Caronlina and Chicago, Byfuglien, Chicago) and all except one (Burmistrov) have played multiple NHL seasons. We define the core group of this team as ten players that are either under contract for the next couple of seasons or will be restricted free agents and will no doubt be brought back unless the team decides otherwise.
That core group of ten players consist of: Andrew Ladd (25), Evander Kane (20), Zach Bogosian (20), Dustin Byfuglien (26), Tobias Enstrom (26), Ondrej Pavelec (23), Bryan Little (23), Blake Wheeler (24), Alexander Burmistrov (19), and Eric Fehr (25)
For a team that missed the playoffs last year that is a very solid core group to build your future around. Add into that mix in a few years a Mark Schieffle and maybe even sooner some of the other prospects knocking on the door in Carl Klingberg , Riley Holzapfel, Paul Postma and Andrey Zubarev and the future is very bright and young.
The only member of their top six forwards that won’t likely be on this team in the next 3-4 years is Nik Antropov (31). That is going to be great for this team having their top two lines remain fairly consistant and building chemistry and when the younger prospects we mentioned are ready for big league action it’ll add the depth that the team is lacking currently to it’s third and forth lines to take this team from maybe sneaking into the playoffs to being regular contenders.
The Jets goal is to develop a system in which they retain their star players, something we in Winnipeg are not used to in the previous incarnation as star after star was traded away before the team couldn’t afford to sign them. In the salary cap world that won’t be the issue, the issue will be if we develop too many star players and can’t afford to keep them all.
That is why it’s so important to the future to build a good farm system and continually developing prospects so that when the time comes and players are forced to move on for whatever reason there are able and talented players waiting. It’s systems like that who build constant winners. Teams like the Red Wings and Sharks are never rebuilding they are restocking and still always contenders to win the Cup.
The trick in the salary cap is keeping together as much of your core group as you can and adding or developing the complmentary pieces to build championship teams and I argue you to show me a team that has a core group of ten players under the age of 26 with as much talent and experience that the Jets already have. You won’t find it, the closest is Chicago and several of their core group are pushing 30 or passed it.
While I would not be surprised to see the Jets make the playoffs this year, I would be very surprised not to see them make the playoffs consistantly starting in 2015. The future is bright because of a young core group of players that will be entering their prime in the next few years.