The Winnipeg Jets will head into the new season with a very different looking lineup from last year’s.
In the offseason, the Jets lost some players such as Nik Antropov and Ron Hainsey, but quickly filled the void by acquiring the likes of Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik—two new faces that should make a major difference this season.
In addition to new offseason acquisitions, we should also see a couple of rookies crack the lineup. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba will have a prime opportunity to make the lineup on opening night. Both of these players are key pieces to the Jets core.
Opposed to the new faces, we’ll see a lot of familiar ones, of course. Some of the lines from last year will remain the same as well.
So how will head coach Claude Noel put together the lineup? Here’s a projection of what we’ll possibly see come October.
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane – Olli Jokinen – Devin Setoguchi
Michael Frolik – Mark Schiefele – Eric Tangradi
James Wright – Jim Slater – Chris Thorburn
The Jets top line will consist of Ladd, Little and Wheeler for yet another season. This line has been intact for almost three years now, and the Jets are expecting big things in the coming year.
Arguably the Jets most dangerous forward, Evander Kane, will be the leader of the second line. Jokinen will most likely start the year in the top-six, but Scheifele could challenge for that spot if Jokinen fails to produce.
The newly acquired Setoguchi will play opposite wing of Kane. The Jets didn’t have the leisure of a second top-six right wing last season, but with Setoguchi in the fold, the second line is more of a legitimate second line.
The bottom six will match up pretty well against opponents. Frolik should fit in well in Winnipeg while Scheifele tries to figure out the NHL. We’ll probably see a lot of adjusting, especially if Scheifele adapts to the NHL quickly.
Now let’s take a look at how the defensive pairings will look:
Tobias Enstrom – Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian – Mark Stuart
Jacob Trouba – Grant Clitsome
The Enstrom and Byfuglien pairing has consistently been together for the most part in Winnipeg. Noel usually likes to switch up defensive pairings, but I expect him to start the year out with his go-to pair.
The Jets will probably let Trouba play on the bottom pair as he gets a feel for the NHL level, but I fully expect to see a Trouba and Bogosian pairing and some point during the year. Before then, Bogosian should have a good fit playing alongside Stuart.
And obviously, Ondrej Pavelec will start in net with Al Montoya backing him up.
The Jets have a solid roster, the best they’ve had since returning to Winnipeg. It may not look the best on paper, but they have a lineup that will compete each night.
Led by a legitimate top line and a potential 40-goal scorer in Kane, the Jets have the talent to score with the best of them. And when the rooks hit their stride, the Jets will take off.