Mitch Kasprick just came out with a nice grading of the Winnipeg Jets at the half-way mark of the 2016-17 season. Nice job, as always. In response, here is my completely unscientific review of the Jets. No data analysis. No nothing. Just how I “felt.” So take it as it is. These are sorted by grade then name.
Bryan Little A
The little engine that could. Everyone loves Bryan Little, because he works hard and produces. He is 2.0’s Dougie Smail or Ron Wilson. The best Jet in the faceoff circle, and he makes everyone around him look good. He is one Jet player that should be re-upped. He can play another 5-7 years.
Jacob Trouba A
Well, he pissed a lot of people off. Lesson: do not listen to your agent. But he came back with a vengeance, perhaps to show the Jets management and fans, or perhaps because he is just that good. He has been the best Jets’ defenseman this year. Simply brilliant on his return. Good for him. Wrap him up in a long contract. He’s proven it already.
Josh Morrissey A
Always liked him in junior but was a bit worried about his size. No, he isn’t 6’-0” per his stat sheet. But this guy is a keeper. Didn’t miss a beat this year when he was up for good. Love the way he moves the puck. A little more offensive movement from him would be good, but his main job is cleaning up for Dustin Byfuglien, who I rated fairly low this year. Keep this kid for a long, long time.
Nikolaj Ehlers A
Speed? Wow. This kid has it. What a difference a year makes. He makes heads spin on the other side of the puck and the fast he goes, the more chaos he creates for the opposition. Let him keep driving the puck, because he excels. Where he still needs work is in what he does with the puck once he gets there. He has a great shot, one that even rivals Patrik Laine. Shoot more, pass less, and you are the top scorer on this team. People will be talking about this kid for a long time.
Blake Wheeler (C) B
Who doesn’t like Blake Wheeler. Puts in a good show every night. Decent guy. But he can improve his game and I expect he will. He isn’t an A because he hasn’t played like an A. Still a critical cog to this team.
Chris Thorburn B
Chris probably won’t be the Jets much longer, but I can’t think of a guy who works harder for this team. He is the heart and soul of the Jets, and its hard to remain that guy from the press box. Fighting because he feels a need to, but he has shown he can put the puck in the net this year. Great guy. We wish him the best wherever he lands next year.
Joel Armia B
Nothing but a splendid surprise. Thought this was a simple add on to a trade, but he is another keeper. Gumption. Like the work ethic. And the Jets missed him when he was out. Watch him grow.
Mark Scheifele (A) B
So, how does Mark Scheifele get a B? Because he hasn’t played well the last 15 games. It is hard to argue his production and his work ethic, but he still makes big mistakes that most people do not notice or do not care to notice. He gets killed in the corners, gets pushed around. He is a B because he has the points to produce. Otherwise, I’d have him as a C+. He needs work.
Marko Dano B
Another nice addition to the Jets, although I don’t know if he will stick in the end. Good work ethic. Hard worker. Makes things happen. Is he good enough to keep with the big team once some of the other draft picks come on board? We will have to see.
Toby Enstrom B
This guy takes far too much abuse. He may be a small guy, but his stature on the ice is huge. Great puck mover; smart play maker. I wish fans would get off his ass because he spend the better part of five years saving Big Buff’s. Cut him some slack. He’s a great defenseman.
Tyler Myers B
Boy. Wish this guy wasn’t hurt. From the second he stepped on the ice as a Winnipeg Jet he embodied what we love in this team. A tremendously great skater for a big guy. Moves the puck well. Another canon shot, but he doesn’t suffer from the slowness of other large players. He can move. And, like, Buff, like Trouba, and like Morrissey, he can run the ice with the puck.
Adam Lowry B+
I think Mr. Lowry will be on this team for a long time. He is a great faceoff guy and has the size to move people. He’s played admirably thus far.
Patrik Laine B+
Well. What do you think? Do you think the Jets should move him to the Moose! Ha! This kid has a shot that few players have. And his passing is better than his shooting. Wow. Fun to watch. He would be an A in the list, but he has shown shortcomings in his defensive play. He needs to work on that. But at 18, wow. I think we’ll keep him. He could be the first $9M player on the Jets roster in three years.
Andrew Copp C
A good young guy. He has played well but needs to find how to stay with this team. He is a wait and see.
Ben Chiarot C
Almost the same as Andrew Copp. Potential. He has done fairly well but needs to improve.
Drew Stafford C
I live Drew Stafford, but beyond the injury, he has coasted this season. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t worked hard, but things aren’t bouncing his way, except for the past few games, where he seems to have regained his touch. Tough to do on the fourth line. He has to work to get back to two.
Connor Hellebuyck C+
Shows signs of brilliance and will be here for a while, I expect, but he isn’t a great goalie yet and has lost games for the Jets that they should have one. I’ve stated before: the best goalie in this organization earns $4.5 million with the Manitoba Moose. Mic drop.
Dustin Byfuglien (A) C+
The $7.6 million man has had a typically so-so year. Every Winnipegger loves this guy and sees him as the soul of this team. I would have traded him and I certainly would not have given him a huge contract. For every great breakaway and hit, he gives up as much to the other team. Just too risky a player. He needs to improve. Unfortunately for the Jets, because they paid him so much, they can never move him. They created another Pavelec situation with Byfulien. Trust me. Watch. And comment in three years when there isn’t a place for him on this team.
Mathieu Perreault C+
My favorite player on the Jets, I’ve been watching him since he played for the Caps. Talented, hard worker. Simply great in the circle. I think he has another year or two in Winnipeg, then he’ll be cut loose for a younger player.
Nic Petan C+
I wasn’t sure this kid would make the team this year. But he did and he is part of the numbers game. He has game. Great stick work. Great work ethic. He still needs some work, but he has done remarkably well in my book. I expect him to be a B to an A player in the future.
Michael Hutchinson C
Just doesn’t cut it in the NHL. Sorry. Only 60+ goalies and a world of competition. Once Comrie is ready, Hutch is gone. Nice kid. Tough position.
Paul Postma C
Not a huge fan of Postma. Doesn’t handle the puck particularly well and gets us into trouble. There is a large gap between our second lowest defensemen and Postma. Once Myers is back, Postma is back with the Moose.
Shawn Matthias C
Injuries hurt his development. He has game. Could be good.
Mark Stuart D
Hard-nosed, good traditional defensive-minded defenseman. A great thing to have on the team. But the numbers games have written him off. Thanks for your service, Mark. You’ve been great.
The Coaching Staff D
The coaching staff has done a poor job of getting this team ready for games and for getting them to follow the script. Or perhaps the script isn’t good enough. By script, I mean the system approach that hockey requires. The Jets have just been poor on special teams, which is half of hockey. That’s the coaches’ challenge. If the team goes .500 the rest of the season, I expect a wholesale change. This talent should be in a solid wild card position. With all the other teams with games in hands, Jets are still near the bottom.