Ilya Kovalchuk left the National Hockey League to play for CSKA in the Kontinental Hockey League after the 2013 season, leaving New Jersey with little cap space and the last pick in the 2014 draft as a penalty for overpaying Kovalchuk. With Kovalchuk hinting at a return to the NHL, I came up with some scenarios of what would’ve happened had Atlanta not traded him.
Scenario 1: Kovalchuk signs with another team at the end of the season and leaves Atlanta with nothing.
If scenario one were a go, that would leave Winnipeg with huge masses of money for signing free agents. New Jersey would most likely not be his destination and that would prevent a Stanley Cup appearance from the Devils. This would also mean that Chicago might not have been successful because they wouldn’t have had Oduya. Another effect would be Winnipeg’s success in the draft each year because of the scarcity of picks that they would’ve owned.
Scenario 2: Kovalchuk re-signs with Atlanta and makes the switch to play for Winnipeg.
Winnipeg would likely make the playoffs and not get Petan, Comrie, Ehlers, Morrissey, etc. However, they would be Cup contenders now and for a long time. New Jersey would miss the playoffs and possibly lead to Brodeur’s early retirement.
Scenario 3: Kovalchuk is traded to a different team
If Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t wear the New Jersey sweater, where would he have gone? Most likely to a team that has a chance at hoisting the cup. If he weren’t dealt to New Jersey in 2010, he would probably prevent Adam Henrique’s Calder Trophy nomination and the Prince of Whales to be in the grasp of New Jersey. Atlanta could’ve received better picks or players. This scenario is basically a win-win situation for Kovalchuk and Atlanta.
Scenario 4: Ilya Kovalchuk stays with Atlanta for the rest of the season but leaves for Russia at the end.
This would be good. It depends how you look at it. Atlanta/Winnipeg could’ve dropped into the number 1 pick name slot and selected Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. But if you look at it differently, you might think that Winnipeg would end up last continuously.
Scenario 5: Kovalchuk stays in Atlanta signs with New Jersey at the end of the season
This would make New Jersey an absolute powerhouse. They definitely would’ve defeated Los Angeles in 2012. They would not be forced to rebuild. Lou Lamioriello was also forced to hire Ray Shero. Also with this scenario played out, Kovalchuk would probably not leave New Jersey and Winnipeg would have no success in the future or present.
So those were five scenarios of Ilya Kovalchuk’s departure from Atlanta. These are based off of statistical habits and facts.
The Winnipeg Jets’ success leaves a lot to be desired, even though they did wriggle a way onto the bracket. Kevin Cheveldayoff has made it clear that he wants to win, but is being patient. Now in the offseason, people tend to think that their favorite squad has got this in the bag, and this of all years, you should expect the unexpected. Winnipeg had a slow start to the season last year but proved doubters wrong, and this year they will set out to do the same. If you are a Winnipeg fan, I’ll tell you what to expect.
1. Expect momentum in the First Home Game
Winnipeg is going to try and motivate themselves to win by using last season’s success. This worked for Calgary at the start of the season because they played intensely to the bitter end, and made it to the Conference Semifinals. Winnipeg will try and use Calgary’s strategy coming into the 2015-2016 season.
2. Expect a Playoff Appearance
Yes you should expect another playoff series but don’t expect for them to make it past the first round. As a Jets fan, you’ll be happy to know that this years playoff run will last more than a week. Know that it will be either a 6 or 7 game series based on their intensity and desire to win.
3. Expect Few Trades
If Winnipeg is patient with their team, more than one cup is in store, and they could possibly become the ninth ever dynasty organization. Cheveldayoff might trade for a prospec,t but don’t lose sleep over a deal involving an active Jet because it’s not happening.
4. Expect Andrew Ladd giving 100% Every Night
Andrew Ladd has two Stanley Cups to be proud of, and he is likely playing in his last years of hockey. Andrew Ladd is going to try everything to get his named etched on the Stanley Cup, so don’t be surprised if he is blocking more shots to try and get the win.
5. Expect for Nikolaj Ehlers to be Nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy
Ehlers is no Connor McDavid, but who needs to be when you’re Nikolaj Ehlers, because he has the potential to be better than McDavid. Lets face the facts; we’ve seen Ehlers compete in the pre-season. He’s proven himself worthy but Connor McDavid has only practiced with Edmonton. Just expect to see him in Vegas by June.
6. Expect 40+ points for Blake Wheeler
Wheeler’s a guy that performs night in and night out. He can stunt your offense and make you look like an overgrown initiation athlete. You definitely don’t want to be on the ice against him, and this will lead him to at least 40 points.
7. Expect at least an Hour of Sin Bin Time
Dustin Byfuglien is going to give Winnipeg a physical edge, but will also take penalties in the process. This is both good and bad, but it won’t cost the Winnipeg Jets as long as their penalty kill is good.
8. Expect more Offense and Less Defense
Winnipeg needs to be better in the other teams end, even if they have to sacrifice defense. More often than not, Ondrej Pavelec will bail his team out. Offense will lead Winnipeg into the playoffs for years and years to come.
9. Expect Utilization of the Manitoba Moose
Winnipeg is fortunate to have their American Hockey League affiliate right next to them. This is great because you can send two way players down whenever you please. So expect to see a lot of AHL recalls.
10. Expect Home Ice Advantage in the First round for Winnipeg
Winnipeg is growing but not enough to get the top seed. However, the opportunity is there and they control their own destiny this year, especially with Burmistrov returning. Last Octobe,r they weren’t even expected to be in the playoff picture. Now they are contenders in the better conference.
This is what Jets fans should look forward to this season.
If you play your cards right, life can be great. It has the same effect on hockey. Winnipeg can have a happy ending especially if they listen to my article.
Do: Keep Pavelec
Ondrej Pavelec is in the prime of his career and a full season with the Jets will do him some good. He has definitely improved in the offseason. Pavelec is fitting in while with his teammates. This should be a no-brainer for Winnipeg.
Don’t: Trade Players for picks
The reason teams don’t succeed and lose their team is because they try and rebuild when they don’t have to. This is a very rare case so Winnipeg best avoid it. This can increase chemistry and build skill.
Do: Trade picks for players
Winnipeg clearly wants to win and they want to win now so adding talent for picks can be the slight difference between being known as “Winnerpeg” and the squad of what if’s.
Don’t: Make changes in management
Winnipeg is as good as they can be when it comes to their front office. Paul Maurice has worked wonders as Winnipeg’s bench boss. Also, Kevin Cheveldayoff is like a bargaining god and has proved it by making many beneficial trades.
Do: Recall Morrissey and Ehlers
Morrissey does lack size but makes up for it in game physique. Nikolaj Ehlers has a Memorial Cup to his credit and Denmark’s IIHF Best Player. The two unproven commodities will be a great fit for Winnipeg.
Winnipeg does a pretty good job but every GM gets tunnel vision and becomes carried away and sign an overpriced player. Winnipeg was very smart by signing Alex Burmistrov but are also showing interest in David Moss. They will likely not purchase his services, however.
Do: Retain Byfuglien despite all offers
If I’m Kevin Cheveldayoff, I’m turning away proposal after proposal involving Big Buff because he is really liked by his teammates, and losing him would mean a decline in teamwork and success. Also, Byfuglien can play defense and offense.
Don’t: Allow conflict in the dressing room
This tears teams apart and stops championships. Kane definitely prevented them from succeeding and Paul Maurice should not stand for it unless he wants to find himself unemployed.
What people can take from this is that Winnipeg is doing some things right but there is room for improvement.
The Winnipeg Jets will not secure a playoff birth in the 2015-2016 campaign, but will clinch the Wild Card spot until the 2018-2019 season when they will win the President’s Trophy, along with the Clarence Campbell Bowl and a Stanley Cup. The Jets are a depth team with plenty of prospects and veterans. Winnipeg has the loudest and greatest fans in the NHL. During their first playoff run, they were swept by the powerful Anaheim Ducks. The Jets next generation is mostly based off of Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey. Winnipeg selected Kyle Connor in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft along with Jack Roslovic followed by Jansen Harkins, Eric Foley, Michael Spacek, Mason Appelton, Sami Niku and Matteo Gennero. The team from the “True North” was very active this year especially after the blockbuster deal involving Kane, Bogosian, Myers and Stafford. However, they also acquired Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland for Eric Tangradi, slid a sixth round pick in 2015 for Jay Harrison, and saw Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Brenden Lemieux, Joel Armia on their way to St. John’s or Winnipeg attached with a first rounder for 2015. Meanwhile, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf’s contracts belong to the Sabres. Again, the Jets made an exchange but this time with the Rangers, who arrogated Carl Klingberg and bestowed former Flame, Penguin and Ranger Lee Stempniak upon the Winnipeg roster. This was the last of many trades for Winnipeg. The Jets are captained by Andrew Ladd “C” Blake Wheeler “A” and Mark Stuart “A”. The Winnipeg Jets have a tremendous balance of skill, teamwork and leadership, and this will result in success in the long run.
When a group of NHL players join together in the Fall, they have one goal, to win the Stanley Cup. Andrew Ladd and the Winnipeg Jets sought out to do just that. At the 2014 NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets management patiently waited for their turn at the podium in Philadelphia. Winnipeg used the ninth pick to welcome Nikolaj Ehlers into the Jets family. Winnipeg was without a pick in the second round but resurfaced on the draft board to take Jack Glover 69th overall. 30 picks later, Winnipeg stopped 29 other teams from allowing Chase De Leo to wear their jersey. Nelson Nogier became a Jet two picks after De Leo. With their 5th round choice, they decided to take Clinston Franklin. The Jets took Pavel Kraskovsky out of consideration in round 6 and selected Matt Ustaski 192nd overall. On October 9th, Winnipeg took on the Arizona Coyotes and came away with a 6-2 victory. They were stopped by Antti Niemi and the San Jose Sharks. Again, the Jets suffered a 4-1 loss to the raining champs, the Los Angeles Kings. The Nashville Predators defeated the Jets in their season home opener. Calgary went into the MTS Centre and came out on top. Finally, Winnipeg succeeded and beat the Carolina Hurricanes but their happiness didn’t last because they left with a loss. The Jets beat Colorado 2-1. New Jersey put a show on for their home crowd and went home happy. The Jets silenced the crowd in Madison Square Garden and did the same in Chicago. Winnipeg created a three game streak by out-playing Nashville. Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins saddened Winnipeg’s fans and walked out smiling. The Jets won in Canada’s capital city. They then lost to the Montreal Canadiens. On November 13th, they prevented Carolina from evening the season series. The Predators showed the city of Nashville that they belong. Again, Winnipeg lost, but this time at the hands of Minnesota. New Jersey and Winnipeg both had wins in their season series now. Detroit came out on top in their first meeting with Winnipeg. The Jets were in a slump and were still in it come November 23rd when they lost 4-2 to St. Louis. The Jets won at last by playing conservatively against Columbus and beat Buffalo 2-1. However, they were dominated by Boston the next game. The Winnipeg Jets beat the suffering Edmonton Oilers 3-2. Winnipeg was a happy city on November 6 because the Jets only allowed 2 goals in their 6-2 victory over the Avalanche. Anaheim defeated Winnipeg 4-3 on the road, and then Winnipeg beat Dallas. Again they couldn’t get any rhythm and lost to Colorado. They lost to Anaheim in their next game but then beat the Islanders. The Jets had 2 consecutive wins now by beating Boston. Unluckily, they couldn’t string three together because they lost to Philadelphia. Winnipeg beat Chicago 4-1 and eventually made the playoffs but were swept by Anaheim. At the draft in Sunrise, Florida, Winnipeg drafted Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic with their first two picks. They selected Jansen Harkins, Erik Foley, Michael Spacek, Mason Appelton, Sami Niku and Matteo Gennero. Jets fans will hope that their team can have a better start and finish.
The Manitoba Moose were the Vancouver Canucks American Hockey League affiliate until 2011 when Winnipeg was given an NHL team. The Winnipeg Jets ownership will unveil the new and improved Manitoba Moose in October. Jason Jaffray who played for the Moose while under contract with Vancouver. JC Lipon and Matt Halischuk helped reveal Manitoba’s new look. The Moose will likely become a play-off contender as a young squad and might even capture the Calder Cup. Texas, Toronto and Manchester are the favorites, but who doesn’t love an underdog story. Connor Hellebucyk and Eric Comrie will make a great goaltending pair. Michael Spacek will most likely play for Manitoba, along with Mason Appelton, Sami Niku and Matteo Gennero. Former Ice Caps’ will lace up their skates in Winnipeg come hockey season for the return of the Moose. For now, fans can stock up on Moose merchandise for opening night. Mobility can cause problems for franchises’, but not for Winnipeg, because Manitoba will likely take home face-offs with the Jets logo on the ice. Manitoba will keep the logo but will have similar uniforms to Winnipeg. Many Moose fans will likely be Winnipeg enthusiasts, looking to catch a glimpse of their favorite team. Players will travel from the Canada’s East Coast to the city of Winnipeg. Kevin Cheveldayoff will now be able to recall and send down players whenever he so chooses, and doesn’t have to base it off of availability. Fans will travel as far as Dauphin to catch a Moose game. Hopefully the Moose will be around for many years and will win many championships.
A General Manager is one of the most desired careers in sports but there are also challenges that come with being a manager. Winnipeg’s Kevin Cheveldayoff is a former Chicago Blackhawks GM and handled challenges extremely well. One of the most controversial trades was Johnny Oduya’s egress from Winnipeg in reciprocation for a pair of draft picks. Winnipeg also picked up Grant Clitsome to replace Oduya. Winnipeg then selected JC Lipon, Jimmy Lodge, Jan Kostálek and Tucker Poolman with two picks coming from Chicago. Jimmy Lodge is yet to make a contribution to Winnipeg or St. John’s. JC Lipon has 68 points over two seasons with the Ice Caps. Kostálek hasn’t had any professional action yet and Manitoba native Tucker Poolman is currently attending school south of Winnipeg at the University of North Dakota while playing for the Fighting Sioux. Johnny Oduya has won two Stanley Cups with The Chicago Blackhawks since he left Winnipeg. Grant Clitsome hasn’t won any awards since attaining to Winnipeg from Columbus. A statistical analysis between the two defensemen can help out.
Johnny Oduya played four years for New Jersey before being dealt to Atlanta. Oduya signed a two year contract with Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars. A poll by Article Ice Hockey 77% percent say Chicago won 6% say Winnipeg won and 15% believe that it’s still too early to tell despite his departure from Chicago. All in all Chicago used his service well.
If you take a look at Stanley Cup Champions, all of them had a great goaltender. Winnipeg is a squad that could see themselves wearing Stanley Cup hats and rings, but they need a goalie to do so and Pavelec might not be a Jet when the time comes. But with Ondrej Pavelec’s possible departure, Jets fans can look forward to another man to stand between the pipes. Here’s what I have gathered from my scouting.
1. Eric Comrie
Eric Comrie will do whatever it takes to keep the puck from reaching twine. He’s a right handed catcher who’s 6’1 and 180lbs. Comrie was selected 14 players after Winnipeg prospect Nicolas Petan. Eventually, Comrie will reach his full potential and might be Pavelec’s replacement. One thing that you get when you have Comrie is closure. There is so much hype about Connor McDavid. Comrie is good and has already proven it. Comrie is someone who is easy to like. He really motivates his team to do better and that’s why he’s the perfect fit for the Jets.
2. Michael Hutchinson
Michael Hutchinson was selected 77th overall by the Boston Bruins. The Barrie Colts and London Knights alumni was acquired by Winnipeg 3 seasons ago, but played in St. John’s for 1 campaign. Hutchinson played in his hometown for 3 years until leaving for London. Hutchinson is a left handed goaltender who’s 6’3 193 lbs. He had Pavelec’s back all season and wants to snag the starting position from Ondrej Pavelec, but will have to battle it out with Peter Budaj who played second man to Carey Price.
3. Connor Hellebucyk
6’4, 200 lbs. goalie who sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in school was selected 130th overall by Winnipeg in 2012. He only allows 1.37 goals a game. He has made over 8000 saves in his career and 1666 were made while wearing an Ice Caps jersey. Hellebucyk is going to try and play for the Jets as a starter but will have to outshine Pavelec, Budaj, Huthchinson and former goalie partner Eric Comrie if he wants to find his name on the opening line up. Hellebucyk’s height allows him to see through screens to stop shots. He is a relatively fast goalie who’s reflexes have carried him into pro hockey. The four other goalies competing for the number one spot will try and play out of their potential range if they want to overcloud Connor Hellebucyk.
Budaj is an average goaltender who has reached his full potential. I would bet a $1 million that he is slated as the back up goalie but Budaj will never become a starter.
Winnipeg has had tremendous success thus far and the biggest reason for that is their fanbase. The True North greeted the former Atlanta Thrashers with glee. The Jets finally rewarded their fans in 2015 by making the playoff bracket. Although they were swept by Anaheim, it was a great year for the Winnipeg Jets. The fans recreated a “White Out” that happened with the original Winnipeg Jets. They were the loudest crowd in hockey history. The people of Winnipeg were proud of what their team had accomplished. They were unable to make the playoffs in the years before, but still the fans stayed loyal. Loyalty is something hard to find in sports so of course the Jets have something special. Jets fans attend the Ice Plex in Winnipeg every year to catch some action of the Development Camp. A fan favorite player for them is Andrew Ladd, because he is such an extraordinary leader. Jets fans follow them threw storms and rain to sunshine and rainbows and that’s the true significance of a great fan base; and everyone knows that a good fanbase builds a great team.
Evander Kane was recently sent to Toronto’s bitter rival in a trade that saw Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf and himself getting on a plane to Buffalo. The Winnipeg Jets acquired Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and a 2015 First Rounder. The trade was triggered by Kane’s actions pre-trade. The Winnipeg Jets were in Vancouver getting ready to take on the Canucks at Rogers Centre. However, Evander Kane was absent come puck drop. The next day, he showed up to the MTS Centre before their home game against Vancouver, wearing a track suit. This made Dustin Byfuglien react. Instead of talking to Evander, Byfuglien threw Kane’s track suit into the shower and flushed ice cold water on it. Post trade, it seems that the Jets came out on top. In Myers and Stafford’s first game against the Nashville Predators, Myers blocked Shea Weber’s blue line bomb and Stafford picked up a goal and an assist. Myers proved to be a factor because he kept the crease almost completely clean from Ducks. Stafford played old time physical hockey along with Byfuglien. Bogosian played with Andrei Meszaros for the remainder of the season and did his best which increased fear in GM Tim Murray because they wanted the First Pick. However, Bogosian and Anders Lindback’s play prevented Buffalo from doing just that. We will see how the rest plays out in October when Kane is healthy and will look to push the Sabres into the playoffs.