Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
I asked Byfuglien a simple question about his expectations for the season.
"Um, be back on defence anytime, right away," quipped Byfuglien, before getting serious again. "No, just have a good start and do what I do and bring to the table what I usually do. Provide a little bit of everything. Focus on defence first and the offence will come."
Just how productive Byfuglien can be during a full season in the hybrid role of playing forward at five-on-five and defence on the power play and in other situations like four-on-four on occasion is anyone's guess.
But Byfuglien's blend of size, skill and strength obviously has Maurice believing it can lead to some impressive things.
"There's really nothing this man can't do on the ice," said Maurice. "He's a Top-six forward and he can play defence, if you need him to. He's big, he's strong, he's exceedingly smart -- in terms of his reads on the ice."
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
Evander Kane believes he could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Rarely short on bravado, Kane was mostly playful as he met the media and made a bold proclamation on Friday that should generate the type of headline that would have Winnipeg Jets’ fans dancing in the streets if it comes to fruition.
In past years, Kane has often kept his personal goals to himself but that wasn’t the case this time around.
“I said when I got drafted that I can score 50 and I know I can score 50,” Kane, chosen fourth overall in 2009, said matter-of-factly. “Playing with the right guys and playing with those guys consistently and obviously staying healthy is a big part of it too.
“The sky is the limit.”
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
As big a splash as Trouba made starting as a 19-year-old straight out of college, the Rochester, Michigan, product wants more of a role in Year 2.
“As big as I can get it,” a grinning Trouba said, Monday, after a pre-training camp skate at the Iceplex. “I want to play on the power play this year, for sure. That’s something you’ve got to earn. Playing in big spots is something I want to do. That again is something that’s earned, from your teammates and your coaches.”
Trouba says he’ll be searching for consistency this year. Playing a full season, too.
Injuries, including a scary neck injury, limited him to 65 games as a rookie. He still managed 10 goals and 29 points.
“That’s something I really want to focus on, is showing up every night and being the best I can,” he said. “Taking another step on this team to become more of a significant player and play in different spots... I want to have a big impact this year.”
The Jets hope head coach Paul Maurice can help
Yawn. That’s my prediction for the 2014-15 Jets. Yawn. The young players will continue developing, and they’ll show promise. But the goalie is weak. And unless they fix that, the most interesting thing about this team is whether or not they’ll finally set Kane free to play some meaningful hockey somewhere that appreciates him. Oh: And they’ll miss the playoffs. The West is stacked.
-Jordan Heath-Rawlings of Sportsnet where you can read more on the preview of the Winnipeg Jets.
from Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun,
Blake Wheeler told it like it is.
He said something just about everyone who has watched the Winnipeg Jets over the last three years would agree with.
Evander Kane needs to step up his game and be a leader.
Good for Wheeler. This is a player who has developed into leader himself over the last few seasons. He led the Jets in scoring last season and was the team's best player down the stretch, showing a great deal of character in the process. It would be a surprise if he’s not named an assistant captain this season.
The Jets need players who aren't afraid to speak their minds, even if they are stating the obvious, and they need players who are going to hold one another accountable. The Jets have missed the playoffs every year they've been in Winnipeg and the players should be demanding of each other if they ever hope to change that trend.
from the CP at TSN,
Teammate Blake Wheeler suggested today a little good-natured banter on Twitter has turned into another excuse to pile on Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane, after Kane responded to Wheeler's comments the talented young forward could step up his play and be a leader this season for the Jets.
Wheeler said Kane was just making a joke that was misunderstood and misinterpreted by "Winnipeg folks" and the media once again.
Wheeler repeated that he believes Kane is a player who has the ability to help the Jets get to the next level as they try once again to reach the playoffs in 2014.
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
A slimmed-down Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is back in town, saying he's in better shape and can’t wait for the start of training camp.
“It’s been long,” Pavelec said of the summer. “I wasn’t happy last year with the way I played. It’s no secret. I want to help the team every night get the two points. That’s my goal.”...
Pavelec is coming off a disappointing season that saw him rank among the worst NHL starters, statistically, with a goals-agasinst-average of 3.01 and a save percentage of .901.
His record was 22-26-8.
Yet, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff publicly endorsed him as the No. 1 goalie going into the coming season.
“That helped a lot, for sure,” Pavelec said. “To hear that from a GM gives you the confidence that he still believes (in) you.”
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Prospects must force themselves into the big club's picture and become valuable contributors or the plan just continues to sputter along and never kicks out a winner.
Cheveldayoff has a solid core of players reaching their potential. Blake Wheeler appears to be a point-a-game man. Kane has a 30-goal season under his belt. The trio of Bryan Little-Andrew Ladd-Michael Frolik is a superior puck possession group. Dustin Byfuglien is a power forward with vast potential.
There are warts. If Maurice can't find a way to improve goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's save percentage the entire endeavour will be a waste of time.
But there's no denying there's promise here. The question is whether it's ready to show up.
More of Cheveldayoff's prospects must step forward and expand the core. Patience is fine. But it can't be infinite. Not for the GM and not for the fans of this organization.
Rushing players doesn't make sense. But, as we saw with Trouba and Schiefele, young players don't have to fail.
Cheveldayoff didn't make a lot of people happy this summer. He stuck to his guns and his plan.
It's time that plan begin to supply him with the ammunition to defend his stance.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The Jets have missed the playoffs for three straight years, but that could change this year if those young stars start producing night in and night out.
"They’re young and they’re good, but the one thing you look at with the guys that sign those big-money deals for long terms, what they have in their backgrounds is consistency. That’s what [the Jets] need to do," Hawerchuk told ESPN.com in a recent telephone conversation. "That should translate into the team being consistent every night. Right now, the consistency is what they’d like to achieve. I always tell players, you have to have the whole package to get to the NHL, but you have to have consistency to be a real pro."
Having spent nine seasons in Winnipeg -- beginning when he won the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s top rookie in 1982 -- Hawerchuk knows that the brutally-cold locale is not for everyone. It does not have palm trees or a flashy nightlife to offer free agents, as other NHL cities do. Because of that, the organization’s ability to draft well is paramount, Hawerchuk thinks.
"Those good, young players will get the roots and the closeness to Winnipeg. As they get time in there, these guys will develop and they should start to turn corner, but that takes a bit of time," Hawerchuk said.
from Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Given the forecasts of pessimism for a team many believe is falling behind in the NHL's difficult Central Division, thick skin is going to come in handy this fall, Jets captain Andrew Ladd suggested Wednesday
"I think you learn that they are predications and until you start playing games and see where you're at from that standpoint, they don't really mean anything," Ladd said Wednesday, asked at the Stars FORE Special O golf tournament what he thinks of all the off-season banter about his team. "It's just a bunch of chatter that everybody likes to talk about in the summer when there's nothing else going on.
"I think as a group we can use it as motivation to tell each other that no one's really giving us a chance and there's nothing wrong with that."
Ladd's teammate Blake Wheeler, coming off a 69-point season that led the Jets in scoring, said he's not all that interested in reminders from the past.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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