Wild West Summer Series 2019: Winnipeg Jets

by chriskane on September 16, 2019

 

Welcome to week 15, the final week of our summer series. Like last season, this series is intended to take a look at the teams in the Western Conference one by one. We will do a short recap of what took place, but the deep dive here will be into the players that helped make it so, for better or worse. We will be taking a look at a few players who out- or under-performed their expectations and be considering whether this performance might just be the new normal.

And now for the technical details. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. These ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power-play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. The idea is to compare this ranking with an expected ranking based on the average draft positions from the start of the year. This process does not necessarily identify who was the most important player to each team but not only gives us an idea of who was a steal/bust on draft day, but where each player was valued going into this season. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.

This week: Winnipeg

 

Recap:

Winnipeg went into 2018-19 with a fair amount of expectation. They finished with 99 points, good for second in the central, but it wasn’t the season they had hoped for.  A number of wingers disappointed and losing Dustin Byfuglien for the majority of the season didn’t help.

 

Undervalued:

Jacob Trouba:

Trouba is a bit of a gimme here as here isn’t part of Winnipeg any longer, but on a team where most players weren’t undervalued Trouba very dramatically was. He was drafted as the 180th player off the board overal (between Dimitry Orlov and Justin Faulk), but finished the season as the 37th ranked player and 11th ranked defensemen.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Roman Josi

NSH

D

31

Kris Letang

PIT

D

34

Jacob Trouba

WPG

D

37

Jeff Petry

MTL

D

40

Darnell Nurse

EDM

D

44

 

The low draft position seemed reasonable, as Trouba has typically paced for below 40 points and does often not play a full season. In 2018-19 though Trouba played a full 82 games and put up a career high 50 points.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

82

8

42

50

0.61

162

4.9

112

18

171

2:04

22:53

 

The why is straightforward here. When Dustin Byfuglien was injured, Trouba was given a chance to run with the first power play. By the end of the season Trouba was averaging more than 3.5 minutes a game on the power play. With that deployment he put up 16 power-play points over the second half. His previous career high was six power-play points.

 

Going forward there are a couple of question marks. On a personal level, everything looks relatively stable, which implies that if he were to get the same deployment, he could repeat his season. Unfortunately, nothing about his deployment is guaranteed to be the same as he left Winnipeg in the off-season for the Rangers. The Rangers parted ways with Kevin Shattenkirk, and Neal Pionk, so there is certainly a spot open on the top power play and that where we hope Trouba will slot in. Most projections have Trouba in that spot, so assuming that is where he goes, there is a good chance he can put up a career pace.

The downside is that he has never been given this role for a full season, and he is a bit of an injury risk. There is still a chance that either because of injury or inconsistent play someone else (Adam Fox?) might be given a shot at some point and run with the job.

Even with those question marks indications are that Trouba is in line for a career season and we should be drafting him significantly higher than 180th.

 

Overvalued:

Nikolaj Ehlers:

Ehlers was drafted 75th overall, right around Brock Boeser, Reilly Smith, and Rickard Rakell (ironically several of those players disappointed, but Mikko Rantanen, drafted three spots ahead of him most definitely didn’t.) By season’s end though Ehlers had fallen dramatically to 413th overall.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Miles Wood

NJD

LW

408

Brock McGinn

CAR

LW/RW

409

Nikolaj Ehlers

WPG

LW/RW

413

Devin Shore

ANA

LW/RW

415

Paul Byron

MTL

LW/RW

419

 

Managers were clearly hoping for more than Ehlers’ 37 points over the course of 2018-19.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

62

21

16

37

0.6

158

13.3

27

7

16

1:19

15:46

 

Part of the problem was clearly that Ehlers only played 62 games, however that is not the full story. Overall his season average of 15:46 time on ice marks the second straight season of decline, but the within season story is even worse. He started the season getting 16-17 minutes of ice time with the top line of Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, but by the end of the season he was getting 14:40 with Kevin Hayes and Kyle Connor. The news gets still worse as he saw a career-low in power-play percentage at 26.7%. To summarize: career low time on ice, power-play time, and bumped off the first line.

Personally everything looks pretty sustainable. His personal and team shooting percentages are within the margin of error, as is his IPP. In this case that is not all that reassuring. That implies he performed about what could be expected given his deployment.

For 2019-20, I am hopeful that his deployment could improve, and that he can continue his personal development in his fourth season. Overall 55-60 seems pretty reasonable for Ehlers, though the 70-point upside is a bit harder to predict without a very significant change in deployment.

 

Patrik Laine

So, we couldn’t get through Winnipeg without talking about Laine. He has been discussed a ton, so we don’t have to go into depth here. Laine was drafted 14th overall and the 4th winger. Three of the five wingers drafted near him had over 100 points, the others had 90. Laine? 50. He ended the season as the 117th winger overall.

 

Player

Team

Position

FHG Rank

Chris Kreider

NYR

LW

108

Zach Parise

MIN

LW

110

Patrik Laine

WPG

RW

117

Artemy Panarin

CBJ

LW

122

Brady Tkachuk

OTT

LW

123

 

Clearly, Laine was a disappointment (which is an impressive thing to say about a player who put up 30 goals). A torrid November (12 games – 18g 1a) helped make up for an otherwise terrible season.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

S%

Hits

PPPts

Blocks

PPTOI

TOI

82

30

20

50

0.61

245

12.2

70

23

44

3:30

17:14

 

Going forward I am not yet willing to give up on Laine. Drafting for that 70-point pace he put up in his first two seasons makes the most sense. His team five-on-five shooting percentage was down quite a bit from his first two seasons, as was his IPP. Winnipeg as a team needed a bit more scoring from their depth and didn’t really get it in 2018-19. While we have question marks now, the upside is just too high not to take Laine seriously. I’m not ready to go all in until I see a step in the right direction but attempting to draft Laine as a 50-point player would be a mistake.

 

Thanks for reading

 

*

Previous Team Articles:

 

Anaheim

Arizona

Calgary

Chicago

Colorado

Dallas

Edmonton

LA

Minnesota

Nashville

San Jose

St. Louis

Vancouver

Vegas