The 2013-14 edition of the Winnipeg Jets isn't going to look profoundly different from the 2012-13 team, but it is going to need to be more proficient at preventing goals.
Scoring isn't likely to be a problem, and the additions of Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik through trades, Matt Halischuk via free agency, and the potential graduation of Mark Scheifele to full-time NHL duty could make the Jets an even more formidable offensive club. Depth scoring was a major problem last season, but those four could end up among the top nine forwards.
There weren't as many alterations on the back end, with top prospect Jacob Trouba likely to be the only addition if he's ready for the NHL after one year at the University of Michigan. Better health for Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom would help, and it is possible Frolik and Halischuk contribute as much at the defensive end as they do on offense.
2013-14 FANTASY PREVIEW: JETS
Under-valued: Andrew Ladd --
Though Ladd's 0.96 points-per-game might be unsustainable (they were easily the best of his career) and despite finishing with 22 penalty minutes last season, the forward could deliver close to 30 goals, 60-plus points, a solid plus/minus, 60-plus penalty minutes and 250 shots on goal this season.
Over-valued: Tobias Enstrom --
He's always been able to rack up plenty of points (0.63 per game over the past four seasons), but the defenseman is injury prone (he's missed 56 games during the past three seasons). He also averages 1.31 shots on goal per game for his career (0.95 last season), doesn't get a lot of penalty minutes, and his plus/minus won't be reliable. Be careful not to draft him too early.
Sleeper: Devin Setoguchi --
For the most part, Setoguchi disappointed in his two seasons with the Minnesota Wild. A fresh start in Winnipeg could help the forward, and the possibility of playing on a line with Evander Kane could help the 26-year-old score 25-plus goals.
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It is also time for Ondrej Pavelec to prove he's more than an average NHL goaltender (he's certainly being paid like an above-average one). The core is back together, and everyone has a long-term contract now, but another year without a Stanley Cup Playoff berth could make it time for some changes in Winnipeg.
Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Jets:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Devin Setoguchi
Matt Halischuk - Olli Jokinen - Michael Frolik
Eric Tangradi - Jim Slater - James Wright
Tobias Enstrom - Zach Bogosian
Grant Clitsome - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Paul Postma - Adam Pardy
NOTES: The most notable position battle in training camp will be Scheifele vs. Jokinen for the second-line center spot behind Little. If Scheifele looks like he can handle the job, he's almost certainly going to be given a chance. Halischuk is not on a one-way contract, but he averaged 1.68 points per 60 minutes of ice time with the offensively challenged Nashville Predators last season; that figure was better than all of the Jets' forwards after their big four (the top line plus Kane).
It might be time for Bogosian to pass Byfuglien on the right side of the defensive depth chart, at least at even strength. Adding Trouba potentially gives the Jets three quality offensive defensemen who shoot right-handed.
Pavelec has been a workhorse for the Jets, and that doesn't figure to change in 2013-14.
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