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.
Yesterday, we took a look at the departure of 2010 8th overall pick Alexander Burmistrov. Today, we discover that Winnipeg’s lineup is still pretty deep even without the talented Russian.
Comprising the Jets’ top-6 forward group are captain Andrew Laad, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, up-and-coming young gun Evander Kane and newly acquired Devin Setoguchi. Fighting for second line center is Olli Jokinen and 2011 7th overall pick Mark Scheifele. While certainly not the best looking top-6 in the league, it is made up of players capable of putting up 20+ goals and 50+ points. The addition of Setoguchi, and another season under Kane’s belt, should make this an intriguing forward group to watch.
Should Scheifele prove himself worthy in camp, Jokinen will likely move down to third line pivot, centering wingers Matt Halischuk and Michael Frolik. This leaves a combination of Eric Tangradi, Jim Slater, James Wright and Chris Thorburn as Winnipeg’s fourth line.
On the blue line, the Jets are deep at right side with Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien and 2012 9th overall pick Jacob Trouba. All three are big, mobile, hard-hitting right-shot blue liners that are good at moving the puck up the ice and laying punishing checks. Minnesota’s talented veterans and youngsters will have to keep their heads up around these three, and Bogosian has yet to pay for his dirty hit on former Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard two seasons ago. Coincidentally, the hit would mark the start of the plunge from best team in the league to drafting Mathew Dumba with the 7th overall selection in the 2012 draft. You can bet Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak haven’t forgotten it.
There is a way to take advantage of a head-hunting Bogosian or Byfuglien, and if they’re not careful, it could be what’s been holding the team back from the playoffs. But we’ll get to that tomorrow. See you then!