Our six pack season preview moves west from Toronto to Winnipeg.
The 2021 NHL season is set to kick off on January 13th after a short training camp. For this season, the Oilers will compete in an all-Canadian North Division. I’ve asked our sibling SB Nation websites to give us a preview about their upcoming season. Today, we take a dive into Winnipeg with Cara, the managing editor of Arctic Ice Hockey. Will the Jets overcome a bad beat in the play-in series to having success in 2021?
Let’s get down to business.
- Copper and Blue: The Jets were eliminated in the 2020 play-in round by the Flames in four games. What was the biggest deficiency in their game that kept them from advancing further into the playoffs?
The Jets do not have a balanced team in any way. Their top six is stacked, but they lack the centre depth needed for their forwards to be strong all the way through. The acquisition of Paul Stastny should help. But the bigger issue is over the last four years they have lost Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, and Jacob Trouba on defence. The Jets have lost a lot of good good players and not been able to replace them.
- Copper and Blue: There was plenty of smoke this offseason about Patrik Laine moving on from the Jets, although nothing has materialized so far. I think this is just fascinating, because I don’t see how the Jets win a deal by trading this player. Does Laine remain in Winnipeg this season? If not, what does Winnipeg get in return?
For once my procrastination pays off! Laine actually made the distinction that his agent was the one who put out the trade talks not him. He seems like he’s fine with whatever and that there is no bad blood. Elliotte Friedman talked about how hard he is to trade with a flat cap. Add to that the quarantine issues any team trading for him will have to deal with and I think it is inevitable that he stays this season. Next season is another story and I do think the Jets need to look at moving a winger for defensive help, but this season I think he stays for off-ice reasons.
- Copper and Blue: Connor Hellebuyck had a good season that saw him finish with a .922 SV% overall, though he had a much less nice .904 in the play-in series versus Calgary. Is there cause for concern in Hellebuyck’s game, or should fans move on from a small sample size?
Honestly, it is a small sample size and he was dealing with a lot of shots that should not have been allowed to happen from where they were happening. The Jets team defence was bad.
- Copper and Blue: Tell us about a breakout player for the Jets in 2021
If he plays with the Jets it has to be Ville Heinola. Heinola just has more tools to help the Jets both defensively and offensively while helping fill a void that the Jets have had for four years now.
- Copper and Blue: Since losing Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets went from 15th to 12th in the league in goals allowed. Can this year’s Jets continue an upward trend, or do they owe their uptick in defence more on goaltending?
They owe it to Connor Hellebuyck. Most of their defence is 4/5/6 guys and yet they seem to be okay defensively. By the way, the top of the defence with Josh Morrissey also struggled last year. Seemed like the extra responsibility got to him.
- Copper and Blue: Finally, where do the Winnipeg Jets finish in the 2021 North Division?
I have no clue. So much relies on Hellebuyck at this point. They could finish anywhere from first to last and I wouldn’t be super surprised with the result.
Cara is the managing editor for SB Nation’s Arctic Ice Hockey. Thanks go out to her for taking time to answer our questions.