The Winnipeg Jets Suffered An Epic Collapse In The Second Round
Many, myself included, believed that the Winnipeg Jets were in pole position to make their first appearance in the Stanley Cup semi-final since 2018, where they fell to the Golden Knights in five games. With balanced scoring, quality defense, and an elite goaltender, the Jets swept the Edmonton Oilers out of the first round but found themselves on the receiving end of a sweep courtesy of the Montreal Canadiens in the second. Heading into the series, the Jets were easy favorites, as their star power simply outmatched the Habs, but a Canadien victory in Game 1 in Winnipeg set the tone for the series. As if the loss was not bad enough, Jets center Mark Scheifele was suspended for four games after he bulldozed an unsuspecting Jake Evans as he deposited the puck into an empty net, and Evans was stretchered off the ice on his 25th birthday. Scheifele expressed remorse for his mistake but Winnipeg never was able to respond in the series after the incident. Scheifele was sorely missed, and no one came close to filling the void he left – it took two goals from bottom pairing defenseman Logan Stanley to even take the closeout Game 4 into overtime.
With Seattle’s expansion draft now on the horizon this summer, the Jets will more than likely have to give up a quality player to the Kraken, and the front office may simply decide to blow up the core entirely. Outside of their 2018 appearance in the semis, this core has been largely underperforming despite the big names on the roster. It was expected that the midseason trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois in exchange for Patrik Laine would revitalize the squad and make them true contenders, but that never came to fruition. Names like Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Josh Morrisey would all collect some quality assets if management chooses to pursue a rebuild, and they could collect a king’s ransom if they trade former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck. Like their Eastern Canadian counterparts in Toronto, the Jets have some tough decisions to make.
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