Today we take a look at the Winnipeg Jets in our Western Conference outlook series. Winnipeg is the fourth and last Canadian-team we take a look at amongst the Western Conference.
In case you missed it, we took a look at the Vancouver Canucks and predicted how the Predators will fare against them next season here.
The Jets A Year Ago
Winnipeg was the best Canadian-team in the Western Conference a year-ago, but finished last in the Central Division and twenty-second in the league standings. The Jets missed the playoffs last season which kept their playoff-less streak alive when it comes to missing the playoffs since the organization moved back to Winnipeg in 2011.
The Jets also fired head coach Claude Noël during last years season and hired Paul Maurice as the new head coach. Maurice later received a four-year contract extension following the season.
Winnipeg has a few question marks facing their team, but no bigger one than their goalie play. Ondrej Pavelec is the Jets number-one goalie and finished the season with a 22-26-7 record. Pavelec also posted a high goals-against-average at 3.01GAA, putting him at number sixty-nine amongst all goalies in the NHL last season in that category.
Al Montoya served as the number-two goalie in Winnipeg a season ago but the Jets let him hit the free-agent market and he was signed by the Florida Panthers. The Jets have basically put all faith in Michael Hutchinson as their number-two netminder for this season. Hutchinson only has three-games on his NHL résumé and posted a 2-1 record with a 1.64 GAA.
Winnipeg finished the season fifteenth in the goals per game category at 2.67 goals/game, but finished twenty-second in the goals against category at 2.82 goals against/game.
Jets forward Blake Wheeler lead the team in goals and points last season with 28-goals and 69-points in his 82-games played.
The Predators finished 3-2-0 against the Jets last season.
Jets Off-Season Moves
The Winnipeg Jets have been surprisingly quiet this off-season with no ‘big-moves’ involving their organization.
The Jets really have only made a total of two noteworthy moves this off-season; the signing of Mathieu Perreault and the re-singing of their own Chris Thorburn. Perrault signed a three year – three million dollar per year contract as a free-agent from the Anaheim Ducks. Perrault, who scored 43-points in 69-games, adds depth to the Jets group of centers.
The Predators acquired former Jets center Olli Jokinen this off-season so Perrault was a much needed acquisition in terms of center for the Jets
Thorburn is a fourth-liner, third-liner at best, winger for the Jets. The Jets signed the 11-point scorer a year ago to a three-year $1.2 mil per year contract. Thorburn will slide into a bottom-six pairing for the Jets next season.
Other than these two signings this off-season and no real address to their goaltending situation, perhaps the biggest news and rumors surrounding the Jets involves forward Evander Kane.
Kane has been in rumored trade talks for months now. Even the Predators have been a rumored team that could or should be showing interest in Kane if the rumors surrounding Kane involving his desire to leave Winnipeg.
Kane would look good in this pose on top of the Batman Building (AT&T Building) in Nashville, right?
— Evander Kane (@EKane9JETS) December 19, 2012
Predators Predictions Against the Jets
The Predators are putting essentially a brand-new team on the ice this season while the Jets, for the most part, are putting the same team on the ice as they did a year ago. I think the question mark that is going to haunt the Jets this season is their goalie play. With that being said I think the Predators, with their solid goalie play from Pekka Rinne and their hopeful scoring boost from new faces, have a chance to have major success against the Jets this season.
I predict that the Predators post a 4-1-0 record against Winnipeg this season.
The Predators play the Jets in their first road game of the season on October 17. I see the Predators taking that victory in Winnipeg, but the next visit in the middle of the Predators Canada trip may be the one-loss the Predators suffer to the Jets next season. The Canada trip will come with at least one to two losses, at best, and I think the Jets are one of the teams that give the Predators a loss during that trip.
Other than that game, I think we may see the Predators take advantage of a lack-luster Jets team, and behind Pekka Rinne and the Predators defense we see the Predators post a 4-1-0 record next season against a Central Division rival.
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