The Winnipeg Jets: A final report card
The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up yet another disappointing season this week, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
The team finished the 2013-14 NHL campaign with a 37-35-10 record — good enough for last place in the Central Division and 22nd spot in the 30-team league.
In a year that was filled with a number of high and lows, the Jets were unable to put together a late run after a brief revival that followed the hire of new head coach Paul Maurice.
As a final blog post, I’ve combed through the roster, evaluated each and every player and come up with a letter grade that best describes their season, starting from best to worst.
Note: A player had to play at least 30 games to make the list.
- Blake Wheeler (82GP, 28G, 69P) Grade: A
It was a career year for the Jets right-winger. He’s become the model of where the Jets want to be in the future.
- Bryan Little (82GP, 23G, 64P) Grade: A
With a career-high in points, he silenced the critics who suggested he couldn’t be a bonafide No. 1 centre.
- Jacob Trouba (65GP, 10G, 29P) Grade: A-
Easily the year’s biggest and best surprise, the 19 year old proved he’s a big piece moving forward. He also developed into a quiet leader in the room.
- Michael Frolik (81GP, 15G, 42P) Grade: A-
He was brought in to add consistency to third line but finished the season in the top-six. He’s a workhorse who also chipped in offensively.
- Andrew Ladd (78GP, 23G, 54P) Grade: A-
A quiet leader, the Jets captain proved consistent night in and night out. Slight drop in numbers from last year, but his growth in maturity makes up for it.
- Dustin Byfuglien (78GP, 20G, 56P) Grade: B+
Started in the back end but finished the season up front. One of the rare players who can take over a game and fight two players at once. Just need to see more of that over the year.
- Tobias Enstrom (82GP, 10G, 30P) Grade: B+
Huge talent when it comes to puck movement and poise on the blue line. But for the Jets highest-paid player, he’s a little too pricey to score any higher than a B+.
- Mark Scheifele (63GP, 13G, 34P) Grade: B+
He exceeded steep expectations after a slow start to the year. If not for a knee injury late in the season he could have pushed for top-rookie in the NHL. He still finished top-10 in points amongt first-year players.
- Al Montoya (13-8-5, 2.30 GAA, .920 save %) Grade: B
He was all the rage after starting 7-2-1, but the hype cooled down late in the season after a couple of less-than-stellar performances. Still remains a solid No.2 between the pipes.
- Olli Jokinen (82GP, 18G, 43P) Grade: B
He vowed to be better than in the 2013 lockout-shortened season and he was. It’s still probably not enough to sign a new contract.
- Mark Stuart (69GP, 2G, 13P) Grade: B
He would jump in front of a speeding train for his teammates. It’s the kind of leadership needed on this team.
- Evander Kane (63GP, 19G, 41P) Grade: B-
No doubt the most talented player on the roster. A serious hand infection kept him out of the lineup for some time but low numbers equals low grade, especially when you shoot as much as he does.
- Matt Halischuk (46GP, 5G, 10P) Grade: C
His season was divided between shifty play and injury, making it still unclear the kind of impact he could have on the lineup. He’ll be among those in camp fighting for a depth position next season.
- Eric O’Dell (30GP, 3G, 7P) Grade: C
He was a reliable body down the middle after Scheifele went down but still needs more time to develop at the NHL level.
- Anthony Peluso (53GP, 2G, 5A) Grade: C
He’s one of the toughest guys in the game who also has hands in close. Next season should be his year to land a consistent spot in the lineup.
- Keaton Ellerby (51GP, 2G, 6P) Grade: C
Brought in to fill an injury-riddled blue line, he played with poise and brought stability to the Jets’ D-core.
- Adam Pardy (60GP, 0G, 6P) Grade: C
After starting the year in the press box, the veteran defender added depth on the blue line and even showed some of his nifty hands in the offensive zone late in the year.
- Eric Tangradi (55GP, 3G, 6P) Grade: C
He was in and out of the lineup and struggled to make a case to play regular minutes. With the team surely looking to improve their bottom-six up front, how dedicated he’ll be this summer to his development may determine whether or not he gets a spot on the roster.
- Chris Thorburn (55GP, 2G, 11P) Grade: C
He proved he could play up and down the lineup, even filling in on the second line for a small stretch of the season. He said he still has a lot to give but will it be enough to re-sign with the Jets? He’ll be 31 next season.
- Zach Bogosian (55GP, 3G, 11A) Grade: C
He may be the year’s biggest disappointment given the amount of time he missed with injury. Plays big when in the lineup but that hasn’t happened enough.
- Jim Slater (27GP, 1G, 2P) Grade: C-
Nice guy, horrible luck. Another injury-plagued season for the Jets' most reliable faceoff guy.
- Ondrej Pavelec (22-26-8, 3.01 GAA, .901 save %) Grade: D
It was a tough year for the Jets' No. 1 goaltender, who always seemed to be in the fan doghouse. That’s probably something to do with the fact he posted career-low numbers as a starter.
- Grant Clitsome (32GP, 2G, 12P) Grade: D
It was supposed to be a big year after signing a two-year deal in the offseason. Any success was curbed thanks to a nagging back issue.
- Devin Setoguchi (75GP, 11G, 27P) Grade: D
Jets management hoped he’d return to old form as a once 30-goal scorer with the San Jose Sharks. Instead, he played himself out of the lineup and will most definitely be looking for a new team to play for next season.
- James Wright (59GP, 0G, 2P) Grade: D
With Slater out, he became a regular down the middle on the team’s fourth line. Tight defensively but couldn’t buy a goal.