Pavelec, Kane top grades in Jets season
The Winnipeg Jets are already in off-season mode, so it’s time to put on our teacher’s hat and hand out the individual report cards.
While the team as a whole scored only a C- after missing out on the Stanley Cup playoffs, there were a number of solid individual performances during the NHL season, as several players took a big step in terms of their development.
It’s important to note that the expectations for each individual were taken into consideration while assessing the overall body of work.
Without further delay, here we go (and remember, feel free to discuss, debate and we welcome your comments):
G Ondrej Pavelec
(68 GP, 29-28-9, 2.91 GAA, .906 save %, 4 SO)
He was our clear-cut choice for Team MVP. While his numbers were pedestrian, Pavelec appeared in more games than ever before and gave his team a chance on many nights — including a few when they had no business being in the game.
RW Blake Wheeler
(80 GP, 17 G, 47 A, 64 P)
Given an opportunity to be a front-line player, the speedster came through with his best season as a pro. Sure, he endured a couple of lengthy goal-scoring droughts but Wheeler showed that he has the potential to be a point-per-game producer at this level.
LW Evander Kane
(74 GP, 30 G, 27 A, 57 P)
The third-year winger jumped from 19 to 30 goals (despite limited first-unit power play minutes) while taking a team-high 287 shots on goal and was a team-best plus-11.
RW Kyle Wellwood
(77 GP, 18 G, 29 A, 47 P)
The last free agent signed by the Jets (in early September) proved to be even more valuable than he was versatile. The veteran pushed his way onto the top two lines, tying a career high in goals and establishing a career-high in points, while playing a sound two-way game and finishing fifth in team scoring.
D Zach Bogosian
(65 GP, 5 G, 25 A, 30 P)
After a frustrating final season with the Atlanta Thrashers, the fourth-year blue-liner rebounded nicely, putting up good numbers and dramatically improving his play in the defensive zone. Also wore out goal posts and crossbars around the league or he might have hit double digits in goals.
C Jim Slater
(78 GP, 13 G, 8 A, 21 P)
Coming off a season cut short by a concussion, the gritty centre took on a large role on the checking line and immediately became a fan favourite anchoring the GST line.
LW Andrew Ladd
(82 GP, 28 G, 22 A, 50 P)
The captain was only Jet to suit up for all games, was second in goals, fourth in points and provided plenty of intangibles.
D Dustin Byfuglien
(66 GP, 12 G, 41 A, 53 P)
Registered the same number of points as last season, despite missing 16 games and playing hurt for a good chunk of the second half.
D Mark Stuart
(80 GP, 3 G, 11 A, 14 P)
Consummate heart-and-soul player. A physical force who made shot-blocking an art.
C Tim Stapleton
(63 GP, 11 G, 16 A, 27 P)
Solid productivity for someone who averaged only 10 minutes per game. Very versatile.
LW Tanner Glass
(78 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 P)
Led the team in hits, dropped the gloves and put up career-highs in goals, assists and points.
RW Spencer Machacek
(13 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 P)
During his second recall, the feisty winger made an impact in limited ice time. Served notice he will fight for roster spot next fall.
C Bryan Little
(74 GP, 24 G, 22 A, 46 P)
Did a good job getting his goal totals up after slipping to 18 and 13 the previous two seasons. Tallying 24 was impressive, considering his first came in Game 15.
D Toby Enstrom
(62 GP, 6 G, 27 A, 33 P)
The smooth-skating Swede came back nicely from a broken collarbone, but dipped from 51 to 33 points while missing 20 games.
G Chris Mason
(20 GP, 8-7-1, 2.59 GAA, .898 save %, 2 SO)
Proved to be the perfect back-up, but got minimal work during the stretch drive.
D Mark Flood
(33 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 7 P)
Played well when injuries created opportunity. Was too valuable to risk putting on waivers but had a hard time getting in lineup during second half.
C Nik Antropov
(69 GP, 15 G, 20 A , 35 P)
Quietly put up decent numbers and played with plenty of edge during the second half.
RW Chris Thorburn
(72 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 11 P)
Offensive numbers were down a bit, but plays physical. Great character guy.
D Ron Hainsey
(56 GP, 0 G, 10 A, 10 P)
Battled a foot injury, but played heavy minutes and was second on team in plus/minus at plus-10.
C Alex Burmistrov
(76 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 P)
Numbers went up in his second season, but needs to get stronger to take the next step. Managed only one goal and three assists during final 21 games of season but is only 20-years-old.
D Grant Clitsome
(12 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P)
Saw limited duty after getting claimed off waivers, but showcased a heavy shot and decent skating ability.
RW Antti Miettinen
(45 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 P)
Had trouble finding his groove after getting plucked off waivers and starting season in Russia, but played better down the stretch.
D Randy Jones
(39 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 P)
Free-agent signing provided depth when healthy.
RW Eric Fehr
(35 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 P)
It was mostly a lost season for the Winkler product after enduring off-season shoulder surgery. Expected to play on the second line, but was unable to produce.
COACH, GM Claude Noel C+
The first-year general manager took a conservative approach as he got to know the organization as a whole. The trade for Eric Fehr didn’t pan out, but came at limited risk and the move of Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks allowed the Jets to get a pair of assets (second- and third-round picks in 2013 NHL Entry Draft) for a pending unrestricted free agent who wasn’t likely to re-sign. Saw limited return in waiver claims, but can’t fault him for trying. Look for Cheveldayoff to be more active in Year 2.