It’s no easy task.
In order to make the playoffs, the Jets will need a lot of players to step up. And then there’s also the X-factor—the special kind of player who could make or break playoff hopes.
The Winnipeg Jets have a roster filled with players who are capable of stepping up and taking over the team, but who is their X-factor? An argument can be made for a lot of different players, but I’ve narrowed down my selection to just one.
The Jets' biggest X-factor heading into the season is Devin Setoguchi.
The newly acquired Setoguchi is fitting right in on the second line, with Evander Kane on his opposite wing and either Mark Scheifele or Olli Jokinen as his center. Setoguchi was the missing piece—the piece that legitimizes the Jets' second line.
Individually, Setoguchi will bring the top-six scoring that comes with his offensive-minded game.
Setoguchi is a goal scorer. That’s what he does and what he’ll continue to do as he enters his seventh season in the NHL. He’s a former 30-goal scorer. He also hit the 20-goal plateau twice while reaching 19 another year.
Setoguchi is what the Jets needed on their second line—a goal scorer with a high-powered, uptempo offensive game.
Last season, the Jets barely missed the playoffs. However, they didn’t have a legit second line because they didn’t have a top-six right wing playing on it. They didn’t have someone capable of putting the puck into the net.
They had Antti Miettinen.
And no disrespect to Miettinen, but he’s no top-six forward. He’s no Setoguchi either.
Would things have been different if the Jets had Setoguchi and not Miettinen? If the Jets acquired Setoguchi around the trade deadline, then maybe they would have made the playoffs. Maybe he would have been the difference last year.
That’s in the past, though. The question now is, will he be the difference this year?
Setoguchi will do this season what he would have done last as well: solidify the top six. Will he be enough to make the Jets playoff contenders in a tough conference?