If there is one thing I know that will monumentally disappoint me this season with the Winnipeg Jets - other than the fact that we are stuck in .500 purgatory - is that Jacob Trouba will somehow be overlooked in the race for the Calder Trophy.
Through 16 games this season, the Jets rookie defenseman has made good decisions and some bad ones, but has always made the Jets a better team when he is in the lineup.
His 21:23 of ice time per game ranks fourth on the Jets behind Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, and Zach Bogosian.
Out of those four top ice times, Trouba's -4 is the second best plus/minus rating while he spends the least amount of time in the box with only two penalties this season compared to Bogosian's closest PIM total at 14.
Only Seth Jones logs more ice time per game than Trouba among 2013-14 rookies with 22:44 compared to Trouba's 21:23.
Trouba ranks 11th among rookies in shifts per game which is very interesting to consider - the Jets are not afraid to use Trouba for long stretches of time in a game, especially on the power play.
The power play is where Trouba has looked the most dangerous all season. Not only is his puck possession very strong, but he seems to be one of the only defenseman, aside from perhaps Byfuglien, who can get a shot through from the point to the net.
Trouba ranks 12th among rookies in even strength ice time per game, first in shorthanded time on ice per game, and 11th in power play time on ice per game - fifth in the last category among rookie defensemen.
The first in shorthanded time on ice per game as a rookie is not even a close race. Trouba averages 15 more seconds of shorthanded minutes than Detroit rookie Danny DeKeyser with 2:55 per game versus DeKeyser's 2:40 per game.
Confidence is a big thing, espeically with rookies, and Winnipeg seems to have that with Trouba's minutes all around.
One last Trouba stat to ponder - he is 14th among rookies in blocked shots (32) despite only playing 16 games.
Stats aside, the Jets can be seen as a better team from the back end when he is in the lineup. Trouba does have an unfavourable giveaway-to-takeaway ratio (15:5), but more often than not he is able to move the puck up the ice more effectively than veterans such as Byfuglien, Enstrom, or espeically Grant Clitsome.
If Barret Jackman can win the Calder Trophy witih 19 points and 190 penalty minutes in 82 games as a rookie in 2002-03 and impact a team more than just on the scoresheet, why can't Jacob Trouba be considered at least a dark horse in the Calder race?
Since 2000-01, only two defenseman have won the Calder Trophy - Jackman in 2002-03 and Tyler Myers in 2009-10. Aside from those two, you see the names of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, and Dany Heatley - all potent offensive forwards.
With the NHL geared more towards scoring and having scoring depth and having the newest, youngest sniper, the defensive stalwarts of the game do get left behind.
And on a team that is stuck spinning its tires at the .500 mark, it is more than likely Trouba, unless he turns his game up to another level than it already is at, he could be on the outside when it comes to Calder Trophy voting.
Every Jets game I attend I go for two reasons, at least this season: to watch the other team and Jacob Trouba.
Kevin Cheveldayoff, I commend you for selecting this young man, he is a reason to watch this team.
Why not pick more of him.
When it comes to the Calder either way, he's got my vote.
Time to convince everyone else.no comments
Disclaimer: This article is in no way, shape, or form written because I have a personal vendetta against Evander Kane and the pitiful effort he is putting in as far as my Fantasy Hockey Team goes this season. There I said it.
Words to describe him: quick, fast, speedy, big, somewhat dynamic, very problematic, and always egomatic.
Oh, and add the adjective soft to that list too.
After being injured in Friday's game in Philadelphia - a game that the Jets needed him to keep playing for two points - Evander Kane has shown Jets fans just what he is made of.
His core, his centre, his mantra has been clearly released for public viewing.
Not that his slow start - 14 points in 26 games - has anything to do with it, but even when Kane was scoring 30 goals in 2011-12, there were still those elementary flaws in his game that many "power forwards" work out of in their first season or two.
Adjustments have not been made for Kane and instead of improving his game as a 6'2, 195 pound power forward the Jets need to produce, he has found himself as a speedy winger who shoots from any angle he can get.
There is a reason why the MTS Centre faithful don't get loud or start to cheer when Evander Kane gets the puck and streaks down the left side anymore - they know it's going to be a shot from the top of the circle or from the half boards, or even better no shot at all and a little skate behind the net into no man's land.
Evander Kane has the third most shots in the NHL (108), three behind Minnesota's Zach Parise (111) and 23 behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin (131).
What's the difference between these three?
Ovechkin has 20 goals and Parise has 11.
Kane only has seven.
You have to look down to Vancouver's Chris Higgins at 12th to find another forward who shoots as much and has less than 10 goals (Higgins has 94 shots and seven goals).
In the top 15, Kane's 6.5% shooting percentage is second best to teammate Dustin Byfuglien's 6.3%.
But for Byfuglien, his shooting percentage isn't expected to be high - he's a defenseman for crying out loud, not our go to power forward.
It's a history of this too.
Kane finished second in shots last season with 190, 30 less than Ovechkin. Kane had 17 goals, Ovechkin 32.
In 2011-12, Kane finished ninth in shots with 287, scored 30 goals and had a shooting percentage of 10.5%. Only Rick Nash had a worse shooting percentage in the top 10 (9.8%).
So what, you're saying, Kane doesn't have a high shooting percentage.
So we never get goals from him if he's consistently shooting from outside the slot or the hash marks.
What kind of power forward has one move to the outside and shoots?
Add to the fact that Kane went down with an injury on Friday on a play that I think was not as bad as it seems and you have a soft player who has fallen in and out of grace with many fans.
Not my job to decide.
But he is soft.no comments
There's something I've always admired about Bryan Little.
He works hard, never really speaks out, never really shines super bright.
But he always seems to work as hard as he can and never takes tons of credit.
In all, Bryan Little seems to be the humble guy who is currently leading the Jets in scoring.
Despite being in the top 50 of scoring (tied with the likes of Ryan Kesler, James Van Riemsdyk, and Milan Lucic) with 13 points in 17 games, Little has proven that he, at least, is worth the deal he signed in the off-season after he and the Jets avoided arbitration.
Little's eight goals through 17 games is a team high and he is set to score 38 goals over an 82 game season, if all continues on the path.
That would be a career high and his first 30 goal season since his sophomore season produced 31 in 2008-09 in Atlanta.
It has been a steady incline since moving to Winnipeg. His 24 goals in 2011-12 was an indicator that he was getting back on track followed by a season where he served more as a setup man with 25 assists in 48 games in 2012-13.
As of the first month and a bit of the 2013-14 season, Bryan Little is my vote for Jets MVP.
His one weakness has come in the faceoff circle, where he is currently winning 45.0% of his faceoffs. But he also takes the majority of the faceoffs - 360 to date, which is 100 more than second line centre Olli Jokinen, who is winning them at a clip of 43.5%.
With Mark Scheifele struggling on faceoffs at 41.2% and Slater being injured, Little is the Jets key faceoff man, despite his low numbers.
But for what number 18 brings to the table, he is producing at what he should be for his potential and his skill set.
He was a top 15 pick in 2006.
Twice he topped 100 points in junior.
Despite being fastracked to the NHL in the Atlanta system (he played only 34 AHL games before finishing his rookie season with 48 games), Little has fared much better in his transition than the likes of Evander Kane or Zach Bogosian in the post-Atlanta system in Winnipeg.
Yes, Kane has had a 30 goal season in Winnipeg, but he is not in a role of number one centre.
For any other team, Bryan Little is a number two or three centre, depending on depth charts.
But in Winnipeg, with the arrival of Mark Scheifele and the future of Eric O'Dell amongst others, Little's job as number one, barring a signing or trade, is set and secure.
Though the Jets are last in the Central Division through November 8th, they still have one star who is shining.
Maybe he can shine bright enough to get to the All-Star Game.
Then again, I'm not counting my chicks before they hatch.no comments
Understatement of the first month of the 2013-14 season: the Winnipeg Jets have not gotten off to a great start.
For fans, points of frustration include coach Claude Noel, goalie Ondrej Pavelec, the inconsistency of the forward group, or even the deplorabale play of the defense corps.
All good talking points of frustration.
All realisitic problems on a team that hasn't lived up to expectations through the first month of a season that sees the team six points out of the playoffs, while they could have been two points out of a playoff spot in the East (if they were still there).
It's a team that is spinning its wheels trying to swim with the big boys of the Western Conferece - a much toughter Western Conference.
The East has its big dogs - the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and others.
The West have bigger dogs - the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, LA Kings, and Anaheim Ducks among others.
The big picture: the Jets are drowning trying to swim with the bigger dogs.
To show how much they are drowning, here are some stats:
- Jets let in 2.93 goals against a game while scoring only 2.20 goals per game. In the Western Conference, where goals are at a premium more than the East, the Jets have to let in much less.
- 26th ranked powerplay at 10.9%. Powerplay has been sputtering and ineffective, both on offensive zone entries and on offensive zone possession, especially in the corners.
- Jets have the 8th most shots for per game with 31.5 and 9th most shots against 31.4 shots. Sure the Jets have the 8th most shots for per game, but they are not quality chances, mostly from the perimeter. Shots for would be even higher if the Jets could get shots through on powerplays or from the point. The 31.4 shots against is mostly due to the fact the Jets defense corps cannot clear the net properly.
- 50% of games Jets score first they win, only New Jersey, Edmonton, and Buffalo score first and win less than Winnipeg.
- When leading after one, the Jets have not won a game this season. The Jets have won 75% of the games they have lead after two periods.
- Jets are 29th in the league in faceoff percentage at 44.5%. Only Calgary is worse at 43.9%. Bryan Little is 44.3%, Olli Jokinen is 43.0%, and Mark Scheifele is 39.9% on faceoffs. While injured Jim Slater is at 50.5%.
Here are some positive stats for the Jets:
- 12th ranked penalty kill at 83.6%. Penalty kill has been doing well lately.
- Bryan Little (11 points) and Andrew Ladd (10 points) are leading the team in scoring while Bryan Little (7) and Evander Kane (6) leads the team in goals. Not all great stats through 15 games, but still Little and Kane are doing well through one month.
- Jacob Trouba, though injured, has shown a brigh spot for the future on defense. He is responsible defensively (probably the most out of all the defensive corps), can skate, score, and is nasty in the corners.
- Zach Bogosian is +3, Mark Stuart is +2, and Toby Enstrom is +1. Three defense in the plus' is one more than all regular defensemen who were plus' at season's end last year (Clistome +10, Stuart +5).
- Evander Kane is third in the league in shots. Though they may not be all quality shots, he is still trying to get shots on net and getting scoring chances.
For the Jets to improve, there is no one solution, but for fans to be skeptical of any one things, let's remember, as a good friend of mine has said:
If we lose the Jets again, we may never get them back. Let's get behind our team win or lose.no comments
Teemu Selanne only spent three and a half seasons in Winnipeg.
That's not many years to play in a city for their team to be considered an icon, an idol, or a franchise player who's number you would undoubetly retire at the end of a career.
For Selanne, an unforgettable 1992-93 season with 76 goals and 132 points were followed by two seasons of injury, lockout, and a trade to Anaheim.
So, in reality, Teemu Selanne only really had one great season in Winnipeg.
But, it seems both he and Winnipeg still want that season to mean something.
Make sure you catch every game on DirecTv, as Teemu Selanne will play what will most likely be his final game in Winnipeg Sunday night at the MTS Centre and there is no love lost between him and the fans.
There will no doubt be the same ovation for Selanne as round one in 2011-12 and it will be welcomed and well received by Selanne and his family.
In 231 games in Winnipeg, Selanne had 147 goals and 159 assists playing alongside other Jet youngsters Keith Tkachuk, Alex Zhamnov, and Teppo Numinen - all now retired.
Selanne is one of a few players still left that played against or for the original Winnipeg Jets. Throw in Jaromir Jagr in New Jersey, Ray Whitney in Dallas, and Shane Doan in Phoenix and there's a few that are still at the forefront of today's game (although not as dominant).
For Selanne though, there is and will always be the nagging doubt in my mind why people remember him to be one of the greatest Jets of all time when you could easily separate that class with players like Dale Hawerchuk and Paul Maclean.
Jets fans of old seem to always way to remember and will always remember his rookie season, but for them it will be more the fact that he really put the Jets on the may over 20 years ago.
The heartbreak of a trade that no one - not even Selanne - has simmered and fallen off, but tonight, for one more night Selanne is king in Winnipeg.no comments