Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/09/14 at 10:26 AM ET
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Many of Winnipeg's core players are in their twenties, in and around their prime years, so while that's reason for optimism, it's also reason for some urgency to take advantage of the kind of production being provided by the likes of Andew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien is an interesting case for the Jets, having shifted from defence to forward part way through last season. While Big Buff is an effective winger, his preference is to play defence, which might make him appealing as a trade candidate for other clubs that are willing to accomodate that desire.
But, if Byfuglien sticks around, the Jets have a quality group of forwards, with potential to be really good if Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele continue to develop. Their defence isn't as strong, overall, without Byfuglien, but Jacob Trouba's strong rookie season was encouraging. Basically, the Jets have a competitive group of skaters. Not great, necessarily, but competitive.
Then, it comes to goaltending, and that appears to be the area that needs fixing, only GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has backed Ondrej Pavelec as the team's starting goaltender going into next season. Maybe that's the stance that a GM has to take with a guy under contract for three more seasons, but his performance has been crippling to the Jets' playoff chances and if he starts 50-plus games again next season, that is a serious roll of the dice that the Jets are taking with a goaltender that has finished with a league average save percentage once in five NHL seasons.
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