2018 Winnipeg Jets Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
The Winnipeg Jets are one of those teams perched simultaneously at the best and worst place to be. On one hand, they have everything ahead of them. They made the Western Conference final last year, and on paper they are good enough to be there or further for several years to come. Their window is open, and their potential is massive. But on the other hand, they now face the immense pressure of trying to live up to the impossible expectations Canadian media and fans pile on after a glimpse of success. They know that their window is wide open right now, and they will learn what that means - especially in a hockey-crazy city that has never enjoyed success to match their loyalty.
They have the potential to be a great, dominant team. But teams have faltered in situations like this, so nothing is guaranteed. And they are in a very different position than they were at this time last year when largely the same roster was expected by many to narrowly miss the playoffs. Things have gotten real in a hurry for this team, and only time will tell if they are up to handling it.
Winnipeg Jets Offseason Moves
The biggest accomplishment of the offseason was signing captain Blake Wheeler long term. His was not an easy or low-risk contract to sort out. On one hand he is not only a great leader but a massively underrated offensive threat in the league - he had 91 points last year - and the driving force of this team in many ways. But he is also 32-years-old, and he plays a style of game that may not age well. They locked him up long term for big money like they had to do, but they did so knowing that the last year or three of the deal might not look great.
Aside from Wheeler, the biggest move was locking up goalie Connor Hellebuyck for the longer term - six years at more than $6 million per. He has proven himself to be a top-level goalie, so the price and term are great - he's still only 25. They shuffled around his backup as well, trading away Steve Mason and letting Michael Hutchinson leave as a free agent then signing Laurent Brossoit for little money from the Oilers. The price was right, but if Brossoit is the backup the team had better hope Hellebuyck stays healthy.
Aside from that, free agent action was light for the team - they have plenty of expensive players, and a new deal for Patrik Laine looms, so cash is tight. They were unable to keep around Paul Stastny, who they acquired at the deadline last year, and Tobias Enstrom returned to Europe after a long career. Both leave holes, but not tragic ones.
The draft won't provide immediate help as the team's pick didn't come until
the second round.
Winnipeg Jets NHL Outlook
The talent here runs deep and isn't questioned. On paper this is a Top 5 team and probably Top 2 in the West alongside Nashville, who they knocked out of the playoffs in the second round last year before falling to Vegas. But what was remarkable about this team last year was how consistent they were. They never lost three games in a row, and their lowest lows were just two 0-2-1 streaks. They scored the second most goals, allowed the fifth fewest, and showed up to play every single night. It was a rare level of focus and commitment, and that can be hard to sustain. They also had all the breaks going their way, and that can't always happen. Nothing the team did last year represented them playing unsustainably over their heads. But just because they seem capable of sustaining it doesn't mean that they will.
The floor doesn't seem low for the team - missing the playoffs would really take work with this roster - but the ceiling is high and not certain to be reached. Any team can have a remarkable improvement in a year like the Jets did last year. It takes a special team to sustain the effort. And boy, will it be fun to watch them try.
Winnipeg Jets Schedule
The Jets have a six-game homestand in the middle of October and a five-game one in early November. That many home games early will come back to haunt them at some point, but spending so much time sleeping in their own beds early, and playing in front of their rabid fans, offers them a real chance to open a gap and make a statement early. We will know by the end of that second stand where this team is at this year.
Winnipeg Jets NHL Futures Odds
The Jets are the third choice to win the Stanley Cup at +950 at Bovada , behind only Toronto and Tampa Bay. The season points total sits at 106.5, tied with Toronto and a point behind Tampa Bay. Mark Scheifele is the sixth choice to win the Hart Trophy as MVP at +1500, with Patrik Laine at +3000 and Wheeler at +5000.
2017-18 Winnipeg Jets Predictions
If you aren't rooting for this team on some level then you probably don't have a soul. The hard-luck franchise has built a dynamo, and now they need to deliver. I am quite optimistic. The roster is great, and the coaching is sound. I expect them to top the West in points, and they will be a massive threat in the playoffs - though another showdown with an also excellent Nashville looms too soon in the playoffs thanks to the dumb playoff format. That series should decide the West's representative in the Cup Final barring a setback on either side - and I'll be on Winnipeg's side at this point. And at this point the only team in the East I don't think they match up favorably against is Tampa Bay - and the same can be said for every other team in the league, too.
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