The regular season is over, Kevin Chevaldayoff has given his end of the season press conference, and the players have dispersed from Winnipeg to warmer spring cities. It's a perfect time to review the season, delving into what the results on the ice say about this season's Winnipeg Jets. Here's a look at where the Winnipeg Jets came from and where are they going.
Coming into the season, most Jets fans were excited about the team's new-found depth, acquired through the free agent additions of Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky. The general consensus among fans was that five of the top 6 forwards were to be Jokinen plus Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. The sixth spot was a tad less concrete, and the Jets' season ended up reflecting a similar pattern. Many players were thrown into that last spot throughout the season, including a certain offensive catalyst defensman Dustin Byfuglien. Due to this revolving door factor (and a few others), this article will actually only look at the 5 clear leaders in 5v5 TOI/GP.
Ladd's Little Wheeler
This line acts as one unit and seems to work very well when together. They get picked on at times by fans and certain members of the media, being told that some (or all) of them are not true 1st liners. Yet, Claude Noel loves to line match them against the league's best, and they usually beat them head-to-head. Let's see what the numbers say.
|Blake Wheeler||15.38||0.902 (56)||49.2 (128)||3.3 (108)||1.38 (7)||0.81 (53)||2.60 (19)||10.85 (25)|
|Bryan Little||15.26||1.209 (21)||44.7 (168)||0.0 (132)||0.41 (168)||1.15 (12)||2.05 (62)||10.79 (27)|
|Andrew Ladd||15.11||1.173 (27)||50.0 (120)||9.0 (55)||1.16 (19)||0.91 (32)||3.06 (7)||11.41 (17)|
All numbers in parentheses are the players' placement within the NHL's 190 forwards in 5v5 TOI per game, which is essentially their placement in the leagues top 6 players (plus a few extra players for insurance).
All three of LLW fell in the top third for difficulty in matchups and difficulty in zone starts.
All three were in the top third of top 6 players for point production (so much for not being a true first line...).
Their scoring is a bit inflated, with the Jets scoring a non-normalized shooting percentage, although not 2011-12 Jordan Eberle or 2012-13 Nazim Kadri levels.
While Andrew Ladd is the only one with a substantially strong RelCorsi, they are being line-match against some of the strongest players in the league, and Bryan Little's numbers have been hurt due to taking some of Jim Slater's face-off specialist duties.
|Evander Kane||16.49||0.349 (66)||53.9 (66)||0.7 (130)||0.99 (43)||0.83 (49)||1.97 (69)||9.21 (68)|
|Olli Jokinen||14.28||-0.064 (170)||52.5 (85)||-2.0 (155)||0.47 (158)||0.09 (190!!!)||0.93 (188)||5.84 (182)|
- I will start this section by saying this: it is highly unlikely that Olli Jokinen does as poorly next season... and it will not be due to a "contract year"
- Jokinen's On-Ice SH% is pretty poor compared to his norm, but oddly enough his 5v5 goalscoring wasn't that much lower than normal for him. It seems that his bad luck almost exclusively affected his assists, although this isn't quite 2011-12 Eric Fehr bad luck.
- Evander Kane had a (tiny) bit of an offensive fall back, although he did face tougher competition levels than last season. Also, Jokinen's poor puck-luck was most likely the largest factor. It also should be noted that most of Kane's scoring slump occurred during the later part of the season, where it has been speculated that he played much of it injured.
- I thought the MSM said that Claude Noel trusted Jokinen defensively... Why was Noel trying to hide Jokinen from the other team's stronger players?
Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane were paired together quite often. In fact, Kane spent more time with Jokinen on the ice than any other two other forwards combined, and almost the same amount of time as with Alexander Burmistrov last season under a full schedule. At times it seemed to work okay and other times it seemed to fail miserably.
|Together TOI||Together GF%||Together CF%||Kane TOI||Kane GF%||Kane CF%||Jokinen TOI||Jokinen GF%||Jokinen CF%|
- Difference in skill levels and chemistry can cause some small changes in shooting percentage, but only so much. Whenever there is huge disparity in shot attempts and goals, some puck-luck (read: natural variance) is involved.
- 50.1% CF% isn't exactly an all-star line, especially given that they were predominately facing middle of the road competition in the offensive zone. For comparison sake, Kane had 55.0% last season with Burmistrov and 55.1% this season with Kyle Wellwood under similar usage.
- This does show, however, that there was a bit of bad luck involved with the extent of their failures (and Jokinen's failures when away from Kane).
- Kane wasn't given much time with other linemates to create any real chemistry, as his time away from Jokinen becomes a real revolving door of linemates that created positive results (ex: Wellwood) and not-so-positive results (ex: Antti Miettinen).
Olli Jokinen with Evander Kane wasn't exactly the greatest idea and it didn't stimulate Kane's scoring, with Kane only scoring four 5v5 goals in all his TOI with Jokinen. The one thing to take away though is Jokinen wasn't buy-out bad as some have stipulated. Chevaldayoff has openly stated that he's been looking for a new 2nd line right winger. It will be interesting to see if that player can be the grease that makes Kane-Jokinen work.
- The Colorado Avalanche were 16th in the league for SF/60, averaging 45.9. That's above all 5 of the Jets' top forwards. It was shown in our last article of the series that getting shots and rebounds has been a problem with the Jets, although the second half did contain large improvements in these areas.
- Kane has shown improvements this season with handling the puck, but it is still an area of weakness. Often when the puck cycles to Kane on the power play, he either shoots the puck or swings it wildly into the slot. This can often cause a change in possession, thus reducing the Jets' shots for and Kane's primary assists. The Jets' inability to get into the slot for rebounds unfortunately exaggerates this problem.
- With the Panthers, Jokinen worked well on the point, but that was many years ago. Since then, Jokinen has found success down low, between the half-boards and in-front of the net in Calgary where he posted 5.15 and 5.82 points per 60 mins. When a team has defensemen who are as strong offensively as Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome (all of whom fell in the top 65 for 5v4 P/60 defensemen), it seemed strange trying to force Jokinen to play the point when there was no success.
- Jokinen and Wheeler didn't get much time on the kill so I kept them out due to small sample size (although Wheeler's numbers were really impressive).
- Holy cow Kane! Kane did well on the PK team not just from shot prevention but also due to being really good at pushing the play forward.
- To give a comparison, last season Tanner Glass had a Corsi of -111.49 and SA/60 of 50.6 for the Jets' on the PK... really miss the guy's grit. /sarcasm...
- I thought the MSM said Claude Noel trusted Olli Jokinen defensively.. Why is he not being given any PK time, especially when he was already getting less power play and even strength time than the other four top players?
Ladd's Little Wheeler is a pretty awesome and underrated unit. They score like legitimate a top 6 line, and their ability to take and beat other team's top lines is very impressive. Their shutdown prowess will most likely be leaned on even more when the Jets move out west. Kane is already a one-man-5v5-wrecking-machine that makes almost any line he's on dangerous. He has been developing more of an ability to use his linemates, but unfortunately his primary linemates have had difficulty learning how to use him. Jokinen is due for a bit of a bounce-back season as shooting percentages normalize. The real question is: will he be good enough for the second line, which the Jets desperately need? Hopefully his power play improves and/or he is used in a more efficient manner where his strengths lie (down low!). Hopefully Chevaldayoff can find that 6th top 6 player he's been searching for, and if he does hopefully Noel actually uses him properly since Nik Antropov, Alexander Burmistrov and Kyle Wellwood were doing a pretty good job when up there yet were not used much this season. To be honest I'm kind of hoping to see what a Kane-Mark Scheifele-Burmistrov line could do.