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2017 is Over. Time to go with the Kids

WINNIPEG, MB. – For those Winnipeg Jets fans who still hope their favorites can reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, what was once hope, has been transformed into a flat out miracle.

Indeed, it will take a miracle for the Jets to play after April 8 now. In fact, asking for a miracle might not be asking for enough.

As the 30-33-6 Jets prepared to head into Nashville on Monday night, they had 13 games left to play and were nine points behind the second Wild Card team, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues also had two games in hand. If the Blues went 8-7-0 down the stretch, the 10th-place Jets would have to go 13-0-0 to finish ahead of them. Oh, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the ninth-place L.A. Kings. They’re six points ahead of the Jets with two games in hand.

Call me pessimistic, but I don’t think a trip to the playoffs is even a realistic goal at this stage.

Which, of course, puts the Jets brass at a crossroads. They might not think they’re at a crossroads, but the future suggests they are. The question is this: Do you continue on playing out the string with veterans who don’t win or do you start playing the kids right now?

After Monday’s game in Nashville, the Jets will have 12 games remaining. If GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and head coach Paul Maurice really believe that Shawn Matthias, Chris Thorburn, Mathieu Perreault, Paul Postma, Ben Chiarot and Mark Stuart are the future of the hockey club, then I guess they need to move forward without any changes. But if the club has any future plans for Chase De Leo, Jack Roslovic, Kyle Connor, JC Lipon, Scott Kosmachuk or even Peter Stoykewych, now might be a good time to find out if they can actually play.

The last 12 games of this season don’t mean anything (except, of course, in terms of jockeying for a position in the draft). The Jets will not make the playoffs. Now is the time to look at players who might be part of the future of this franchise at the NHL level.

However, having said that, remember last season? The Jets finished the 2015-16 season with four straight wins. They ran California. And they did it with a lineup that included Nik Petan, Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, Julian Melchiori and Brendan Tanev.

As we wrote at mytoba.ca at the time: “At some point, the Jets have to move out that old Atlanta core and in the final four games of the season they demonstrated that now (OK, at the draft) might be a good time to make some moves. Since the team arrived in Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011, it has made the playoffs once and never won a game. The five-year plan is a dumpster fire, but that doesn’t mean that the players GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff have drafted can’t have an impact next year. After all, they finished the season with four straight wins and three straight road wins – against three good teams in California. That ain’t bad.”

They should do it again this spring with a whole new group of young, Cheveldayoff-drafted players. The Winnipeg Jets should not waste the next 12 games playing guys who can’t win, have never proven they can win and never will win.

– Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports

Photos by James Carey Lauder/MyToba

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
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