The Winnipeg Jets claim to draft and develop, but it seems like they have forgotten the second part. The Jets claim to have a young team, but they are getting longer in the tooth by the day. They seem to have a no plan at least a cohesive one between the coach and the general manager.
Earlier this year Kevin Cheveldayoff stated that the Jets had internal solutions to their defensive needs. He was most likely talking about Ville Heinola and possibly Dylan Samberg being available to play if needed. Heinola was with the Jet most of the season, but barely saw the ice as Paul Maurice seemed to have other ideas of what to do to ensure that his top defensive prospect continues developing and that is to not play him.
The disconnect between what Cheveldayoff wants to do and what Maurice wants to do is an issue. Cheveldayoff probably remembers when the Jets reached the Conference Finals and were the second best team in the NHL during the regular season. Maurice was regularly playing young player in meaningful minutes to great success. The Jets were relying on the likes of Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, and Josh Morrissey to play big minutes in their early careers to great success. It’s a shame that they refuse to do that now.
The Jets struggles are not solely because Maurice refuses to play young players more. It is more a symptom of larger issues in the organization which point to the general manager banking on young players playing regularly and being an integral part of the team whereas the coach would rather rely on veteran players who simply are not good at hockey anymore. However, the general manager is signing those players as well. Time is a circle.
The Jets do not appear to have a plan. They do not seem to have a plan to bring young players into the lineup. They do not seem to have a plan to develop players beyond the AHL. They do draft well overall, but good drafting means nothing if the players you are drafting and developing are never played in the NHL. They really do need to be given chances to make mistakes and fail which they are not allowed to do. In Maurice’s eyes they have to be perfect in a specific role or not play at all.
If you have been watching the Montreal Canadiens recently you’d notice that they have players playing in spots they’ll succeed in. Cole Caufield has been playing alongside Nick Suzuki to great effect while Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been on a line with Josh Anderson and Paul Byron who have been contributing big goals and big moments all playoffs. Putting players in individual positions to succeed with realistic expectations are them allows them to flourish. The Jets need to figure out what their plan is for their young players and start following it even if there are some hiccups along the way. What is happening now is not working for anyone involved.