Hey guys, the seasons hasn't started yet and there are reasons for hope. Below are the top eight reasons for hope heading into the Winnipeg Jets' 2014-15 season.
Pav-ing new roads. Ondrej Pavelec is in reportedly in great shape, perhaps for the first time in his NHL career. Listed weights have him a whole 2!! pounds lighter. He is said to be and revitalized and newly dedicated to his craft. This offers hope! Another reason for hope is the fact that Ondrej is coming off a career worst year. Numbers, specifically regression to the mean, suggests this isn't likely to repeat itself - even if all the new Pav stuff is hogwash. More or less a "can't get worse" scenario. The Winnipeg Jets were a middling team last year. Their goal differential was only minus-10. Any improvement in Ondrej's save percentage, even back to his career average .906, will pull the Jets closer to the playoffs.
Much Hutch. More goalie hope comes in the form of Michael Hutchinson. Hutch is making the leap to the NHL after a strong AHL career. He has twice posted a top 10 AHL save percentage and finished his minor pro career (hopefully) with a .921 save percentage. Hutch may not be the savior, but he has a chance to be a quality NHL goalie. Given the issues with the Winnipeg Jets' goaltending situation, any possible upgrade has to looked at fondly. Could he be the long term answer?
PP enlargement. The Jets' powerplay was horrible a year ago. They scored on just 15.4% of their opportunities which placed them 25th in the league. This isn't guaranteed to be better, but it should be. The Jets aren't without skill. The new powerplay system looks to be better using that skill with pucks coming off the half wall, rather than the point. Adding goals to the differential via the powerplay is an easy way to elevate a team. Let's hope this happens in Winnipeg!
No reason to be dour about the Troubadour. Sometimes I stretch to make words play. That sentence was ugly, but Jacob Trouba is a beaut. The Winnipeg Jets young super-stud is heading into his sophomore season after a very impressive rookie campaign. It would be somewhat unfair to expect him to become a leader on this team, but based on his early growth rate, this isn't impossible. Trouba has the potential to TAKE a spot on the top pair this year and the Jets may need him to if Zach Bogosian doesn't get things together. Trouba gives reason for hope.
Flying in formation. The Winnipeg Jets have some new structure in place. The way they play the game is different, but perhaps more important than the systems is the fact that the Jets will have three legit NHL lines to start the year. After being a four forward team for a long stretch, depth has been added. Michael Frolik and Mathieu Perreault add significant punch and two way play. Mark Scheifele brings scoring and some long term hope. Three scoring lines will be a very nice change for this team.
Like a Scheif in the night. Mark Scheifele scored a lot over the last half of his partial season. He was on about a 60 point pace. Banking on the sustainability of such a small sample wouldn't be wise, but crazier things have happened. Scheifele will be given every opportunity to succeed as he will log big minutes with two high scoring wingers. If Scheifele scores like a first line forward and Bryan Little continues to be the workhorse we've come accustomed to, the Winnipeg Jets will have an enviable one, two punch at centre.
New coach, new hope. This is a big one. It is also the fallback for both the General Manager and the players. The team is improved on paper, albeit marginally, but the roster is largely the same. The biggest changes are at number three centre and coach. It has yet to be seen how much of a difference the coaching change will make, but the new coach does provide hope.
New age. In addition to the internal factors, there are few outside factors at play. Sure, the division will be tough, but these things change with relative ease.
- The Minnesota Wild are old and they were never that good to begin with.
- The Colorado Avalanche are due to regress and their management group seems intent on making them worse.
- The Nashville Predators are extremely beatable.
Hope. Hope. Hope.
In the end, hope doesn't win games. There Winnipeg Jets need to be better on the ice if they want to win more. Will they be better? Hard to say, but there are more than a few reasons that we should remain hopeful.