With Season One in the books for the Winnipeg Jets the focus now shifts to next season. Leading up to the draft there will be plenty of prospects to look at and plenty of talk about getting players without contracts, under contract. At least those that the team wants to re-sign.
There are some areas the Jets will need to be better at. When you play 12 of your first 17 on the road and only win three, your road record will suffer the rest of the season. In their last 16 on the road the Jets were 7-8-1 so there was a marked improvement, but still an area of concern when putting the pieces together for next year's team. The Jets gave up 246 goals, too many when you consider goaltending was not an issue. Their penalty kill did end up over 80 per cent but also needs to be better. They were short handed 292 times, only six teams were higher. Again, this was something they got better at as the season went on. The home power play was second in the league, the road power play 28th.
The Jets should be looking at a different schedule next season, despite the fact they will again play in the Southeast Division. For the most part they played under Atlanta's schedule this past campaign, but will have more influence in the upcoming schedule. They did take advantage of long home stands in December and February, but having those home stretches meant lengthy road stretches as well.
Individually it was a banner year for many of the players.
Ondrej Pavelec played in a career-high 68 games and at 2.91 it was his second best GAA in his five-year career. His 29 wins was also a career high.
Chris Mason saw his GAA drop to 2.59 from 3.39 last year, but did express concern at season's end about playing in only 20 games.
Zach Bogosian made terrific strides under the guidance of assistant coach Charlie Huddy. The 21-year-old finished with five goals and 30 points, setting a career high for assists and points. After finishing at minus-27 last year he finished at minus-3 this year, and may have set a record for goal posts and cross bars hit. Injuries kept him to only 65 games played.
Mark Stuart was the emotional leader for the team and was rewarded by being named the winner of the Dan Snyder Award for the player who best embodies perseverance, dedication, and hard work without reward or recognition, so his teammates might succeed. He was one of the NHL's top shot blockers and like all those who throw their body in front of pucks, play with bruises on their bruises.
Ron Hainsey was the only Jets regular to not score a goal. He missed the last couple of games due to injury, after missing 24 earlier in the year. Hainsey was the Jets' best plus-minus road player.
Alexander Burmistrov became a solid two-way player this past season. Early in the year he set a career high with a six-game point streak, had a stretch of three goals in four games, but struggled to find the back of the net to close out the season, going without a goal in his last 17 games. At 20 his point totals of 13-15-28 eclipsed his rookie totals. After a minus-12 rookie season, Burmistrov was a plus-4 and became a reliable penalty killer.
Evander Kane at 20 was the youngest 30-goal scorer in the NHL. His goal totals have gone from 14 to 19 to 30 in his three years in the league. All of his offensive numbers were career highs. He also led the team at plus-11. Kane is a streaky scorer, with stretches of five goals in six games, 10 goals in 11 games and nine goals in 12 games.
Randy Jones played in 39 games this season finished at plus-4. Jones also missed a lot of time because of injury.
Kyle Wellwood is another player who had a career year. Wellwood was signed late summer by the Jets and finished with 18 goals and 47 points. The 18 goals tied a career high while his assist and point totals set new highs.
Tim Stapleton was signed as a debt forward but ended up playing 63 games - scoring 11 goals and recording 27 points - all career highs.
Tanner Glass was another player with a career year. His five goals and 16 points topped his previous numbers in both categories. Glass led the Jets and was among the league leaders in hits.
Andrew Ladd finished with 28 goals, one shy of his career high of last year. He finished strong with four goals on the season-ending four-game road trip, including two overtime winners. He finished with 12 goals in his last 22 games.
Eric Fehr had a tough season. Coming off three shoulder surgeries in the last two off-seasons he returned to the lineup in late November but struggled to score. When Chris Thorburn was injured Fehr became a member of the GST line, scoring in his first game, but then suffering a season-ending injury in the second game.
Bryan Little ended with 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points and led the team in faceoffs taken. He had five two-goal games.
Jim Slater was the Jets most consistent faceoff man. He set career highs for games played and goals. The games played was key as Slater missed the last half of last season with concussion issues. Slater finished strong with two goals in game 82 including one late to send the game to overtime.
Antti Miettinen joined the team in December from the KHL and the transition was not easy. It took him 34 games to score his first goal and finished with five goals in his last 11 games.
Chris Thorburn was a key member of the GST line but did not score his first goal of the season until after the All-Star break. He scored four in the next 18 games before an injury took him out of the lineup.
Grant Clitsome joined the team late February and played in 12 of the final 16 games, picking up three assists.
Blake Wheeler scored 17 goals in 49 games. He did not score in his first 18 games and did not score in his last 13. He led the team with 64 points, a new career high for assists and points. He had a stretch of seven goals in 11 games and another of six goals in six games including a four-game goal streak. He had a four-point night and three other three-point nights.
Dustin Byfuglien finished tied for second in scoring for defenceman with 53 points including a career-high 41 assists. This in only 66 games played due to injury. He had five straight multiple point games and recorded 17 points in a 10-game stretch in February/March.
Mark Flood got into only 33 games after being recalled from St. John's, ending up with three goals and seven points. All numbers were career highs as his only previous NHL time was six games played with the Islanders in 2009-10.
Tobias Enstrom missed 20 games due to injury but still finished with six goals and 33 points. He returned from injury with 3-10-13 in 18 games including a three-game goal streak.
Nik Antropov scored the Jets' first goal in their return to the NHL. He also scored in the final game of the season. He had a four-game goal streak in March.
With so many Jets having career numbers the glass half full says next season should be a good one as the team looks to make the playoffs. The glass half empty asks, can the players up their numbers even more? Something that might be needed to make playoffs.
A four-game win streak was the best, that in the December homestand, while the February homestand saw them go on a 4-0-2 run.