Sunday, 1 May 2016

Is This a Playoff Roster?

With the Winnipeg Jets being awarded the second-overall pick in the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the city suddenly has that electricity to it again. There are some who are already predicting a Stanley Cup for the Jets prior to 2020, but let's pump the brakes on that for a second. The Jets have to make the dance before they can think about even winning their first Stanley Cup Playoff game.

So I'll ask the question: based on TSN's lineup above, is this Jets roster with the inclusion of both Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor a playoff team?

Personally, I'm going to be the bearer of bad news and say no. At least not for this upcoming season. I think the Jets will be competitive, but they still have a glaring problem in the blue paint if Ondrej Pavelec is the starter. They still have some defensive problems if Mark Stuart is playing on the second pairing. The TSN lineup pushes Joel Armia, who was great in the second half of the season, to the fourth line when he easily should be playing ahead of Alexander Burmistrov and Chris Thorburn.

Honestly, there are some lineup issues shown above, but I think this Jets team is still a little short on experience when it comes to battling through an 82-game season in the Central Division. Don't forget that five teams went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season from the Central Division, and you're asking the Jets to bump one of them out of playoff contention.

Maybe they can keep pace with Minnesota all season. Maybe they'll give Nashville a run for their money. But to lump the Jets into the 100-point category with the likes of Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago right now is a pipe dream.

If the Jets land Patrik Laine, they'll have themselves a legitimate sniper who can blaze a trail of fire down the ice. If they somehow end up with Auston Matthews, they'll have a power forward with the capability to take over a game. He can play on both the wing and at center, and that would give the Jets a little more flexibility. Either pick will help this team immensely in the future.

But that's the key: in the future.

The Jets also hold a pick at #22 thanks to the Andrew Ladd trade, and I'd hope that they take a long look at Logan Stanley. The 6'6" defenceman is a huge kid who doesn't mind the dirty work in front of the net or in the corners. His offensive skills have improved season to season, but the Jets really could use another big kid on the blue line who will clear the crease and give, presumably, Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie an open look at shots.

Are they a playoff team next season? No, not with the lineup above. If they made some astute moves in the off-season through trades and/or free agency, they could shore up some of the problem areas. The Jets have a good roster of prospects, and they need the Moose to start pushing the development of the kids if they want to compete with the likes of Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago in the Central Division.

Hope springs eternal in Winnipeg with this second-overall pick, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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