Lessons from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft

 

It's Joe Sakic

Back in June of 2011, as excitement for our newly returned Jets gripped the city, I made my way down to Minneapolis for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. For a hockey-crazed fan like myself, it was memorable, to say the least. All the hockey media is out in full force – the boys from TSN, Sportsnet, The Hockey News, and many more. Continue reading

The Ballad of Mark Scheifele: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Scheifele all smiles at Jets camp

If Jets fans didn’t love Mark Scheifele before, they sure love him now. After a dominant performance in rookie camp, Scheifele scored 2 goals and 2 assists in his NHL exhibition debut, showing great skill and poise along the way. Off the ice he is about as likable as can be, and has wooed Winnipeg hockey fans as much as any other current Jet. So you can imagine the reaction of Jets fans the morning after – exulting his performance, and using more or less the same five words: “Will he make the team?”

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FAQ’s for Jets Fans

Q: When will the NHL schedule be released?

A: Nothing certain, but last year’s schedule was released on June 22 – the same day as the NHL awards. Look for similar timing, given the NHL Board of Governor’s meeting on the 21st and the NHL Awards on the 22nd.

Q: What will the team be called?

A: Speculation is Jets, Falcons, and Bears/Polar Bears. Prefix Manitoba before most or all of those. Interesting tidbit here: http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/vwTrdmrk.do;jsessionid=0001XMOgF9Jh4WKIgnGf0qsLxe7:2IILP9AC4K?lang=eng&status=&fileNumber=0656184&extension=0&startingDocumentIndexOnPage=1 – Let speculation (continue to) run wild…

Q: Who will be the Head Coach?

A: The candidates include Moose Head Coach Claude Noel, Blackhawks Assistant Coach Mike Haviland, former Oilers’ coach Craig MacTavish, Montreal Assistant Coach Kirk Muller, and Thrashers Head Coach Craig Ramsay. New Jersey is the only other team still looking for a coach; speculation is that they’re very interested in Ramsay should he become available.

Recently hired coaches include Glen Gulutzan (Dallas), Mike Yeo (Minnesota), Paul MacLean (Ottawa), and Kevin Dineen (Florida). Gulutzan, Yeo, and Dineen have all risen from head coaching positions in the AHL, (in fact Dallas and Minnesota have promoted coaches from their own AHL affiliate). Former NHL bench bosses looking for work include Ken Hitchcock, Mike Keenan, and Marc Crawford.

Q: What kind of player can we expect to get with the 7th pick at the NHL Entry Draft?

A: Assuming we don’t trade our selection, look for the team to pick up a talented forward who should play in the top-6 in 3-5 years – if not the top-line. (Assuming that player is developed properly and not rushed to the NHL). Likely targets are Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad. Whoever it is, don’t expect them to play in the NHL this coming year.

Q: How good is this team? Will the what-have-you’s make the playoffs this season?

A: No. Though there’s plenty of reason for optimism in the longer-term, right now they’re at best 3rd in their division behind Washington and Tampa. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boston, and Buffalo also slot ahead of us in the playoff picture, leaving us 7th place in a best-case scenario. The Habs and Rangers both made it to the post-season this past year, and while neither are powerhouses, they both have elite goaltenders which make them tough to leapfrog. One might also expect a bounce-back year from the Devils as they went on an absolute tear in the second half. My best guess is they finish 10th, but I could see them finishing anywhere from 8th to 13th.

Q: Surely we can improve the team through through free agency and be a stronger playoff contender?

A: Mark Chipman has already made it clear that this team will be built properly – which means they will draft and develop players rather than looking for quick fixes. The defence and goaltending already look pretty good, but there is a definite need at forward, especially at centre. However, beyond Brad Richards (who has long been rumoured to be signing with New York due to his connection with Rangers coach, and former Tampa Bay mentor John Tortorella), there aren’t any high-end centres available. While the UFA market does boast several good complementary players, like Brooks Laich, Ville Leino, and Simon Gagne, none of them could be considered impact players who can significantly alter a team’s fortunes. Instead, look for Cheveldayoff and his team of professional scouts to target strong two-way players like Jeff Halpern, Chad Larose, Marcel Goc, and Boyd Gordon, who can contribute some offence from the third line, but would mainly be relied on to kill penalties, win draws, and bring a consistent effort every night.

MTS Centre and True North Sports & Entertainment

Opened November 16, 2004

Cost – $133.5M

147,000 sq. ft (300 x 490)

Capacity – 15,015

Private suites – capacity of about 1100 in *48 suites (being increased to  55)

Lower bowl – 8812 (includes suites)

Upper bowl – 6203 seats

Ticket prices

Private Suites – $180,000 per suite

 Remaining Seats – $82 average; Range: $39-$129

True North Sports & Entertainment

Hockey Operations – Already In place

Mark Chipman – Chairman True North Sports & Entertainment

Jim Ludlow – President and CEO of TNSE

Craig Heisinger – Senior VP of Hockey operations and Assistant GM (formerly Moose GM)

Kevin Cheveldayoff – General Manager and Executive VP Hockey Operations (formerly Chicago Blackhawks Assistant GM)

Potentials

Claude Noel – Moose Head Coach (Potentially head coach)

Keith McCambridge – Moose Assistant Coach

Rick St. Croix – Moose Assistant Coach

Bruce Southern – Moose Director of Player Personnel

Jim Norgate – Moose Scout