If you’ve been paying attention to Gone Puck Wild lately, and shame on you if you haven’t, then you know school has begun as Wild fans brush up on their knowledge of the new teams within Minnesota’s division. This week, that new team just so happens to be the newest addition to the Western Conference–the Winnipeg Jets. Going through Sunday, we’ll break down the Jets’ major additions and subtractions, strengths and weaknesses, prospect pool, 2013 draft class and team outlook.
It’s an exciting week! Tomorrow, EA Sports’ NHL 14 will officially hit the shelves in North America, and Wednesday marks the start of training camps league-wide. Minnesota won’t drop the puck against Winnipeg until September 19th, but that’s just enough time to get a week’s worth of cramming in.
After two seasons–well, one and a half–in the ‘Peg, fans are expecting more than just mediocre NHL hockey. They want wins and Stanley Cup Playoff runs. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is committed to giving them that. Former Atlanta Thrashers players Andrew Laad, Onrej Pavelec, Evander Kane, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little have all been signed to longer term contracts, securing a stable team nucleus.
In addition, this offseason, the Jets’ GM also added more depth in the form of defenseman Adam Pardy and forwards Michael Frolik, Andrew Gordon and Matt Halischuk. The biggest move, however, was acquiring former Minnesota Wild winger and one-time 30-goal scorer Devin Setoguchi for a 2014 second round draft pick. While the Wild’s scouting staff does manage to find a lot of gems in round two, Seto was a steep price to pay. In 384 career NHL games, the 2005 8th overall selection has notched 116 goals, 38 on the man advantage, and 106 assists for 222 points and a plus-8 rating.
Shipped off by San Jose in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft deal for Wild d-man Brent Burns, Seto was considered the biggest piece of the package Minnesota received in return. When his name was announced over the Xcel Energy Center’s PA, fans roared, then mildly cheered when Charlie Coyle was announced as another piece of the trade, then gave a standing ovation at the revelation that Minnesota had also acquired another first round pick to be used later that night (Zack Phillips, 28th overall). With Setoguchi now playing in Winnipeg, and the verdict still out on Phillips, Coyle appears to be the biggest piece of that trade. Fitting for a guy who’s inclusion in the trade was made mandatory by the Wild’s scouting staff.
In 117 games in the State of Hockey, Devin would score just 32 goals, 12 on the power play, and 31 assists for 63 points and a negative-12 rating while fluctuating between the top three forward lines. Perhaps he wasn’t given a fair shake. The 2011-12 season was riddled with injuries among the forward corps and last season was barely enough to be considered a season. Who knows what a full season might have produced for Seto had he developed more chemistry with Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund or Matt Cullen? That line of reasoning may have been why Winnipeg was so set on trading for him.
With that said, Winnipeg’s newest sniper will likely skate on the right side of Bryan Little on the top line. The Jets’ faithful will be looking for big results from their biggest offseason acquisition. Can he deliver? That’s a question he’ll have to answer for himself.