Which Jets Have Impressed The Most At The Halfway Point?
The NHL season has just passed the halfway point, and now would be a good time to look at who has been the most impressive for the Winnipeg Jets so far this season.
The term impressive can mean a lot of things. For this, I am looking at players who have been playing at elite levels, but also players that may not be looked at as a star, but are playing above where I expected them to be. Some of you may not use the term impressive with some of these players, but these are based on my expectations of them prior to the season starting.
Kyle Connor, LW
43GP - 21G - 32A - 53P
Kyle Connor has cemented himself as one of the NHL's best goal-scorers last season by scoring 47 goals. This season, he is on pace for a lower total of 40, but things get more impressive when you look at how his season started. Connor began the season on a bit of a cold streak, only scoring two goals in his first 14 games. Since then, in the last 29 games, Connor has 19 goals, which is a 54-goal pace. He has made up for a lot of lost ground.
On top of his goal-scoring abilities, which we all know he has, his 32 assists and 53 points is also quite impressive. On pace for a career high in points with 102, Connor currently sits 9th in the NHL in points. His play over the season has been fantastic, and he has been doing this without consistent linemates, as the Jets have been dealing with a plague of injuries.
Josh Morrissey, LD
43GP - 8G - 39A - 47P
Josh Morrissey (or should I say Norrissey?) is putting up a career year. Already besting his career high in points, and not far behind with goals, Morrissey has really taken a stride to a new level this season. Most importantly, Morrissey hasn't sacrificed his defensive play to make this happen.
Morrissey has been the Jets' most valuable player this season. There have been a lot of valuable players, but you can't convince me that anybody else tops him right now. There was a lot of question about whether he was a true number one defenseman or not in the offseason, and he has shown that he definitely is. Morrissey currently sits third in scoring for defensemen, one behind Rasmus Dahlin and nine behind Erik Karlsson. Not only is he among the league's top offensive producers on the back end, he is the best defender among those players named.
I think there is a very realistic chance that Morrissey can secure his first Norris trophy this season, and prove any doubters wrong.
Connor Hellebuyck, G
32GP - 21-10-1 - .925 SV% - 2.41 GAA - 17.4 GSAx
Connor Hellebuyck is back, ladies and gentlemen. Hellebuyck is back to being one of the top goalies in the NHL, and is an incredibly important part of why the Jets are having so much success this season. He has the second most wins in the NHL, the third highest save percentage, and the fourth highest goals saved above expected, per MoneyPuck.
Hellebuyck is giving the Jets a chance to win every night, and it is great to see him back to the elite level we all know he is. Regardless of whatever goalie you are talking about, these numbers are impressive. The fact that the bar is set so high for Hellebuyck that this seems like a normal year for him is crazy, but that doesn't take away from how impressive he has been.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, C
43GP - 19G - 29A - 48P
There were so many questions about Dubois headed into this season, and while many are not answered, they have all been put on the back-burner for now. Dubois has been having a fantastic season, and is proving that he is worth whatever his next payday may look like. He is on pace for a career high in goals, almost matched his career high in assists, and he is catching up to his best point total already.
Everybody thought Dubois was going to be one of the top players available at the trade deadline, and now he is showing that he is one of the best second line centers in the NHL, and the Jets would be crazy to trade him. Again, now is not the time to worry about his contract, but regardless of what he wants to do, he is going to be expensive. He has been a fantastic two-way option, and I am excited to see how he ends the year, and what he can do in the playoffs.
I can't make this list without having Bowness on here. After the Jets hired him in the offseason, there was a lot of skepticism about whether he was the right option of not. There is certainly no question anymore. He is in contention for the Jack Adams award, as the team has taken a huge step in production from last season.
The systems that Bowness brought with him is translating to success in every part of the lineup. The defense is getting a lot more action in the offensive zone, the special teams have been doing fantastic, and the defensive structure has been a lot tighter. This Jets group was running around like a chicken without a head last season, and now in almost all situations, the Jets look cool, calm and collected. They are not cracking under the pressure, and while sometimes there is a honeymoon phase with a new coach, this seems to be a genuine change of abilities for this group. He made some bold moves that we wouldn't have seen with many other coaches, like having Dominic Toninato and Jansen Harkins on waivers multiple times, Wheeler stripped of the captaincy, and finally giving some of the young defensemen a shot.
There is nothing to be unhappy about with Bowness.
I could write about almost every player and how they have been impressive over this season, but I will leave some room for conversation about the rest of these players.
Cole Perfetti, Adam Lowry, and to an extent, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele have all been impressive in their own ways. Perfetti as one of the league's top rookies, Lowry with him jump in production, Scheifele's goal-scoring, and Wheeler rebounding from losing the captaincy. They all have some pretty great storylines that make for an impressive season.
Who would you say has impressed you the most this season?