The Winnipeg Jets have struggled on defence for a couple seasons now, but this past season was the biggest struggle yet on that front. Josh Morrissey seemed to buckle under the responsibility that he felt to carry the defence while also dealing with less support around him. In ended up feeling like a complete collapse of the entire system.
The Jets were “fine” defensively because of Connor Hellebuyck. As long as Hellebuyck remains great the Jets should be fine. He covers a multitude of sins, but in a year when the schedule could be compressed and backups could become more important this year than ever before. If that is the case, the Jets might not be able to weather the storm created from either over-playing Hellebuyck or playing him an acceptable amount, but losing games because he was not playing.
The Jets will probably not be able to win a Stanley Cup with their defence. They can make the playoffs because of their goalie, but winning it all will be damn near impossible with the defence. Now the defence does not start and stop with the defencemen, but the Jets overall defence is not good at all. There are some well-intentioned, but bad at defending forwards like Patrik Laine and some bad at defending forwards like Nate Thompson. Either way, they are bad at defending and cannot help out their teammates as much.
Basically the Jets have a roster that could win, but it will be much harder than it was three years ago because of the defence. And we saw how hard it was then for Hellebuyck by the end. In a season where he has to carry more of the load he might be too tired by the time the playoffs roll around. Either way, the defence should not rest.