Bryan Little has been the Winnipeg Jets top line centre in 335 of the 380 games since relocation - only injuries have held him from taking on on the toughest match-ups as the team's best centre. While Bryan isn't an elite scorer he is a high end possession player. Little and his linemates consistently out-posses the opposition despite the fact that they usually take on the best that the opposition has to offer.
That didn't change this season, but Little may still have lost his spot at the top of the Jets' depth chart. Mark Scheifele stepped in and flourished after Little was lost to an unfortunate neck injury. The kid dominated and he did it both with counting stats and according to possession metrics.
This isn't to suggest that Little had a let down year. He finished third on the Jets in even strength per minute scoring - behind only Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. He also finished third in Corsi for percentage - behind only Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault. The numbers say that Bryan Little remains a quality first line centre - arguably the best on the team.
Scheifele's emergence obviously raises questions about the future deployment of Bryan Little. There can only be one top line centre, but the the idea of two players capable of carrying the mail is nothing but a positive.
Will Scheifele sustain his late-season play? Will Little get another crack at playing with Wheeler? Only time will tell, but the Jets are potentially in a position of strength in their top 6 centre positions.
Perhaps Little will take on the toughs while Scheifele, Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers romp? Perhaps the Scheifele line will draw enough attention that Little can help push and keep Kyle Connor into the offensive zone? Regardless of what happens, Little remains an excellent hockey player and his play - wherever he plays - will be a big plus for this team.
All fancy stats from Corsica Hockey.