If you look at who have been key contributors for the Winnipeg Jets this season, you've seen some young faces leading the pack. While players such as Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler continue to be among the faces of the team, it is starting to look like the future with Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff's products slowly integrating themselves in to full time NHLers.
On the Jets roster there are 6 players that have been drafted by Cheveldayoff and his scouting staff. These players are the foundation of the future for the Jets, and it's nice to see many of them already making noticeable impacts for the club this season.
Mark Scheifele has been arguably the Jets best player during their 3-1 start to the season. This guy is red hot, there is no other way to put it. Scheifele leads the Jets in goals with 3 (high light real worthy goals) led by his quick and effective wrist shot. Scheifele is looking to have really benefited from another summer with fitness guru Gary Roberts where he says he gained up to 10 lbs in muscle over the summer. Scheifele has further developed his 200 hundred-foot game and has been a consistent force in both ends of the ice.
Scheifele has been developing some promising chemistry with Jets rookie Nikolaj Ehlers.
Ehlers has recorded 3 points in his first 4 NHL games. Numbers are what intrigue many, but it's not the only thing that should catch the eyes of fans when it comes to Ehlers. The 19-year-old Denmark native has displayed some excellent hockey IQ. He knows where to be at all times. In the first little taste of action that we have seen from Ehlers, it is apparent that he will certainly contend for the Jets fastest skater competition when the Jets annual skills competition rolls around.
If you look at the fourth line you will spot some promising and talented young guns that provide an element of skill to the Jets 4th line. So long with the Eric Tangradis and the Antti Miettinens, and say hello to the youth movement in the bottom six. Andrew Copp and Nic Petan have both seen limited ice time in their first couple of games of NHL action, but in the limited minutes they have received, they have shown flashes of great potential.
Petan has a very high ceiling and could become an effective Top 6 player in the NHL one day. But for now, as he fights for minutes in the bottom 6, many could question his value with the Jets as opposed to being well seasoned and playing down with the Manitoba Moose. Petan has shown that he is up to par with the NHL level and that he belongs in this league. For someone with such small stature, Petan plays great in the tough areas and plays great in the corners and along the wall. Petan has been active around the net, and in his first game he was rewarded for doing so when he scored his first NHL goal.
Andrew Copp has seen limited ice time thus far this season, but in the limited minutes he has looked pretty impressive. He has a large upside as the teams 4th line center moving forward.
Adam Lowry isn't the flashiest player in terms of numbers, but his two-way play and physicality is impressive for a second year player. He brings great value to the Jets at the 3rd line center position.
These additions to the team over the last few years serve a great deal for the Jets. For the last little while the Jets had been a two-line hockey team. The bottom 6 was filled with scrubs and waiver wire players and didn't provide much energy or anything at all. The Jets fourth line was always an afterthought, they could have sat in the press box and you wouldn't have noticed, they were lucky to see 3 minutes of ice time a game. But now with a 4th line of Petan-Copp-Thorburn, the Jets have skilled players that help balance out the Jets offensive attack and give the team four lines that can produce offense. And it seems to be paying off.
With a new era starting to assemble before our eyes, the Jets identity is taking shape. When you think of the Jets offense you don't just think Little Ladd Wheeler. You think of the team as a whole.