The Winnipeg Jets have made the playoffs for the past two seasons. Out of the eight seasons the Jets have been in Winnipeg for, they have made the playoffs three times with one season being incomplete. That is less than 50% of the time and it is not looking good for this season. So the question is should the only general manager the Jets have had in Winnipeg be brought back for another season?
When the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta, it was a fresh start for a franchise who had made the playoffs a grand total of one time and won zero playoff games. It took the Jets a four years to make the playoffs and two more seasons to win a playoff game. The Jets struggled and their general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, was allowed to build the team that he wanted to build after the disaster years in Atlanta. Except it has been eight seasons now and the Jets have failed to take that next step for all but one season.
The Jets are objectively a young team. They have quite a few young players, but all those players have years of NHL play under their belt. At some point that experience has to count for more than their age and that point should be now. Players are off of their entry-level contracts and making the big bucks. They have earned it and yet they are still being considered young and not like “imagine them when they are in their prime”, but as new players into the league. They have been here long enough to have the experience to not be wide-eyed rookies anymore.
Cheveldayoff’s biggest failing is the defence. The defence was never a strong point, but hit it’s high point two seasons ago with a top four of Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Josh Morrissey, and Jacob Trouba. Only Morrissey remains and they have been replaced by Neal Pionk, Dmitry Kulikov, and an assortment of waiver-wire pickups. This is after Tyler Myers left the team as a free agent for big money. Smart move there by Cheveldayoff. The bigger issue is the Jets have lost a lot of good players and they have been replaced by no one and nothing has been done since another top four defenceman in Dustin Byfuglien failed to report for training camp.
The Jets defence has been struggling for the entire season and instead of actually doing something about it, Cheveldayoff has failed to help the team at all. And it has been a year after year issue where the Jets have entered the season with a thin defence (or one prone to injuries) and almost without fail it hurts them. This season it could very realistically cost the Jets a playoff spot.
By the time the post-season rolls around, the Jets could have missed the playoffs in three out of eight seasons. That means they only made the playoffs 37.5% of the time they have been in Winnipeg and Cheveldayoff has been general manager. He has fired one coach and should be looking at Paul Maurice’s future right now. But should he be given more time to build the team he intended to build or did he build that team two seasons ago and lose it that off-season?