It's almost time for the Winnipeg Jets to embark on their fourth campaign since arriving from Atlanta. While there may be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the team to perform after three seasons of spring golfing, the dawn of a new season brings the excitement of the unknown. To help capture this excitement, we look ahead and try to predict what the future may hold. Plus, with the magic of the internet, we provide plenty of fuel for people to laugh at us when our predictions go horribly. So let's get into it!
Who will lead the Winnipeg Jets in scoring?
Cara: Evander Kane. He will stay healthy and be a dominate goal scorer.
Trevor: I think it will be Wheeler. Strong year last year, and he should have strong support on his line plus plenty of PP time to help pad that. It might not match his total from last year, but it should be close.
Tim: The safe wager would be Blake Wheeler. He has led the team in scoring since they arrived and is among the top scorers in the league over that span, but I am going to going in a different direction. Evander Kane is healthy and focused. He is also in great shape and extremely driven to succeed. Fans have been waiting for him to take the next step and now is as good a time as ever. Kane leads the Jets in scoring with just shy of 70 points.
Travis: Evander Kane
Ryan: Evander Kane. 38 goals, 40 assists and 78 points. Chris Thorburn scores zero, his ode to James Wright.
Justin: Blake Wheeler. While I think Kane will have a big season, I expect Wheeler to be a little bit more durable and be heavily involved in both Kane's production and the power play.
What player do you see making the leap this season?
Cara: Michael Hutchinson will steal the starting job at some point, if that counts.
Jacob: Josh Morrissey
Trevor: I can't see many dramatic leaps being made. Whoever fills the hole on the third line will be serviceable, but not surprising. That really just leaves Michael Hutchinson to step up and lay claim to Pavelec's spot as the Jets number one goalie.
Tim: In order to break out, a player needs to be put into a position to succeed. From the sounds of things, nobody will be given more opportunity this year than Mark Scheifele. Scheif looks to be starting the season between Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler. That is some serious fire power and it will likely come with big ice time. If Scheif handles the responsibility well, he should have a greater jump in point totals than any returning player.
Travis: Mark Scheifele - I think he's going to take a big step playing with Kane and Wheeler and silence his remaining critics.
Ryan: Adam Lowry. From what is being reported, it sounds like the Jets are infatuated with the big guy. Despite his skating stride looking like an unfolding lawnchair, I think he has what it takes to make the jump and contribute in a bottom-6 role.
Justin: I think Evander Kane will have a breakout season. I think there will be much more continuity in the lineup this season than there has been in the past three seasons, particularly with the forwards. With the speed and playmaking that Scheifele and Wheeler possess, Kane may finally be in position to succeed. The time for excuses has passed, and I believe he will rise to the occasion.
Where do you believe the Winnipeg Jets will finish this season?
Cara: Second last in Conference III, just behind Nashville and just in front of Colorado.
Trevor: The Jets had trouble finishing higher than 7th last year, with a Pekka Rinne-less Nashville team being closest to them when all was said and done. Nashville has Rinne back, and the rest of the Central division has loaded for bear. The Jets seemed doomed to repeat their 7th place finish, barring an exceptional combination of career years from their own players, and horrific luck throughout the rest of the division.
Tim: Anywhere between 4th and 7th in the central is a reasonable projection in my opinion. Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas remain a step ahead, but the rest of the division is fairly middling - even Colorado. The Jets should be improved some, and even last year they were a decent team with subpar goaltending . If the goaltending issues go away, there is some real opportunity for improvement. Best guess, 5th in the central.
Travis: Last in the central.
Ryan: 7th in the Central, 12th of 14 in the West. Not bad enough for McDavid/Eichel, but nowhere near the playoff line.
Justin: Despite the growth of their youth and increase in chemistry, the incremental changes the Jets have made are not enough to catch up or eclipse the rest of their division. That combined with shaky defensive corps and the worst goaltending tandem in the league will place them last in the central. Plus, my next response may lend more insight to why I feel this way.
Trevor: The surprise will likely be Hutchinson, but also if both Trouba and Scheifele can avoid a sophomore jinx.
Tim: Michael Hutchinson will play well, so well in fact that he will take over the Winnipeg Jets' starting job by the mid-point of the season.
Travis: The impact that Adam Lowry will have on the third line on the Jets (after he makes it of course). *Editors note: He submitted this prediction Sept 22nd for the record.
Ryan: (didn't submit one. I don't know if this was intentional, but the absence of an answer made me laugh so I included his name in this section).
Justin: I'm going to go outside the box here and go with Kevin Cheveldayoff. Without the presence of a star player, the Jets will build likely look to build around Paul Maurice and his offensive system. With the presence of a clear system they will finally be able to properly evaluate the talent that is present on the roster and who fits within the system. With that being said, I think this is the year that one or more veterans get dealt. If the Jets fall short of expectations early, changes will need to be made. I could potentially see players like Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian or even Andrew Ladd get shopped. The shakeup would likely be to acquire more assets that compliment the young players that the Jets have drafted. While the trade may not have immediate impact in the win/ loss column, it could raise the ceiling of the team down the road.
Cara: Ladd and Wheeler due to age. They won’t be bad, they just won’t be as good.
Trevor: Trouba and Scheifele will disappoint. It is unavoidable. People are already tagging Trouba as the next captain, and talking like Scheifele is an Art Ross winner. *Editors note: WOWWWWWWWW! BREAK MY HEART MORE?!?
Tim: The fan base is expecting Dustin Byfuglien to take a big step forward as a forward, but I am not sure it will happen.
Travis: That Ondrej Pavelec will still play more games than Hutchinson, despite Hutch having better numbers.
Ryan: Biggest disappointment is that the Jets do exactly as I predict and finish 12th in the West and procure the 7th-overall draft spot. I'm tired of being right about where they finish though, so hopefully they prove me wrong.
Justin: Michael Hutchinson. I think this is based more on expectations than his actual abilities. He only had three games played last season and in comparison to the underwhelming Pavelec, the unknown of Hutchinson seems sexy. It's very early in his career and I think he may get asked to do too much too early.
Youtube video/ song that you think will be fitting or sum up the upcoming season:
Cara: Sung by the Jets to Pavelec (song idea curtesy Andrew Berkshire of EOTP). *Editors note: using crowdsourcing to find your video is disgusting.
Justin: Are the Jets going to make the playoffs?
Gif (pronouced with a G not a J) that sums up the season:
Trevor: Trevor did not submit a gif, but asked for a "son, I am disappoint" gif. I hope I did him proud:
Tim: This has nothing to do with anything, but it makes me happy:
Agree or disagree with anything? Want to submit your own answers? Comment below! The Jets kick off the season Thursday when they take on the Arizona Coyotes.