Manitoba·Blog

And the winner is … Adam Wazny dishes out unofficial Jets awards

It’s that time of year, a time when there’s next to nothing for the Winnipeg Jets to play for and a time when little consequence is given to the final score. It’s also a time for lists! End of season lists!

From MVP to 'complete disaster award', blog writer Adam Wazny hands out the Jets hardware

The Winnipeg Jets salute the fans following their victory over the Minnesota Wild after their final home game of the season in Winnipeg on Sunday. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

It's that time of year, a time when there's next to nothing for the Winnipeg Jets to play for and a time when little consequence is given to the final score.

It's also a time for lists! End of season lists!

The Jets announced their "year-end awards" prior to a convincing 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Sunday night (which mercifully ended the home portion of the regular season schedule; Winnipeg finished at 18-19-4).

Mark Scheifele won the Three Stars award (given to the player who earned the most three-star selections at home) and then scored his career-high 27th goal of the season. Mark Stuart picked up the community service award, while Matt Halischuk was named the Dan Snyder memorial award winner, which is given to a player who embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work.

Those are the official team awards.

Let's go through some unofficial accolades, shall we?

  • Most Valuable Player (MVP):
Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler is in the middle of his prime and is Adam Wazny's choice as the team MVP. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)
A tough choice but let's go with Blake Wheeler.

Wheeler has led the team in scoring all season and, according to some, continues to be perfect accelerator in Scheifele's development — a progression that has resulted in the centre becoming a very nice revelation for Jets fans. 

Wheeler has also been the de facto captain this year and at 29-years-old, is in the middle of his prime. He still has the speed and his command of the puck remains at an elite level.

Scheifele has had a great season. Wheeler is the guy, though.

  • Most Underrated Player (MUP):

Look beyond the contradictory nature of the category and welcome Toby Enstrom to the stage.

This won't sit well with those who see him as a player who needed to be traded years ago, but what those fail to recognize is his ability to move the puck efficiently and his status as the Jets only real capable left-hander on the blue-line.

His offence has dropped off but a case could be made that Enstrom is Winnipeg's best defensive defenceman.
Nikolaj Ehlers celebrates after scoring at the MTS Centre. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

Think about it. Please remember to include your name in the comments below this column.

  • Rookie of the year:

Nikolaj Ehlers, in a landslide. But it hasn't been without some high and low points. Check this out …

First nine games: four goals

Next 33 games: two goals

Last 27 games: eight goals

Give him a break, he's 20-years-old.

By chance, did anyone notice how he's performed much better once he was put on a line with Wheeler and Scheifele? Weird.

  • Manitoba Moose call-up of the year:

Connor Hellebuyck put up a .918 save percentage and a 2.34 goals against average. He's been the best Jets goaltender all season but for some reason, he hasn't started an NHL game since Feb. 11.

In a season of decisions that haven't made much sense, this tops the list.

  • Norris Trophy (Winnipeg chapter):

Another slam-dunk. Dustin Byfuglien has had an eventful campaign, what with the all-star game selection, the World Cup of Hockey invite and a new contract.

He's also put up 48 points in a lost year.

  • The complete disaster award:

Winnipeg's power play or Winnipeg's penalty kill?

After Sunday, the Jets power play was clicking at a 14.6 per cent efficiency, which was 30th overall in the NHL. The penalty kill is slightly better at 78.8 per cent efficiency (25th overall).

The Jets have three games left. It's going to come down to the wire.

  • Biggest off-ice news story:
Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Ladd skates during a morning practice at the MTS Centre in March. He made his return to Winnipeg after being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in February. (John Woods/Canadian Press)
With not much happening (or is it happiness?) on the ice, this emerged as a highly-contested category.

Byfuglien re-signing, the Kyle Connor watch, and the Heritage Classic announcement were big stories, yes, but the award goes to the Andrew Ladd trade.

Trading the captain off to Chicago for a prospect and a 1st-round pick marked a drastic switch in direction, as a charter member of the Atlanta leadership core was shipped out.

Many have been calling for this since the franchise set up camp here. Others point to Ladd as an example of consistency that successful teams find a way to keep on the roster. Either way, moving off of Ladd was a big deal.

  • The bad memory/heartbreaking moment of the year award:

You'll probably want to sit down for this.

The Jets were 19-19-3 and four points out of a playoff spot on Jan. 7. On tap was a stretch of nine home games in the next 10 — a chance to make a big move in the standings. It turns out the move was straight down, and with a thud.

Winnipeg went 2-7 at MTS Centre — including losses to non-playoff clubs like Buffalo, New Jersey and Carolina — and the focus immediately switched to the future.

And that was that.

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