Monday, July 18, 2016

Jets Monday Morning Musings: The Base Is Set

Jets added to their strong prospect core with Patrik Laine at number two in June 2016.

What's a good base for a professional sports team?

A good base would be the players.

Poor players breed poor performances.

Poor coaching breeds poor performances.

Poor drafting breeds poor performances.

You get the picture.  If a team doesn't have that base, it's going nowhere.

But how to get that base?

Three things must be in place, in my humble opinion, to make a franchise even worth paying the price of admission to see.

It's three things I think the current Jets have got going for them.  Today will focus on the part we saw almost a month ago with the Jets taking away Patrik Laine at number two and Logan Stanley at number eighteen - drafting.

1. Positive, Effective Drafting

If we take a gander at the Winnipeg Jets 1.0, we see a flaw that really put the nail (I'll say nails) in the coffin for lack of success - a lack of success at the draft.

Sure, the home runs here would include Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Teppo Numminen, and other players that are already can't miss players.

Teams that win set themselves apart from the pack by making shrewd decisions after round one is over.

I would ask any armchair GM to do the first round for me most times because everyone knows the top names when they watch TSN right? (Thanks Bob McKenzie)

Take a look at Jets 1.0's first round picks from birth to death:

1979 -  Jimmy Mann (30 points in 293 NHL games) 19th overall

1980 - Dave Babych (723 points in 1195 NHL games) 2nd overall

1981 - Dale Hawerchuk (1409 points in 1188 NHL games) 1st overall

1982 - Jim Kyte (66 points in 598 NHL games) 12th overall

1983 - Andrew McBain (301 points in 608 NHL games) 8th overall

1984 - No First Round Pick

1985 - Ryan Stewart (1 point in 3 NHL games) 18th overall

1986 - Pat Elynuik (342 points in 506 NHL games) 8th overall

1987 - Bryan Marchment (2307 PIMs in 926 NHL games) 16th overall

1988 - Teemu Selanne (1457 points in 1451 NHL games) 10th overall

1989 - Stu Barnes (597 points in 1136 NHL games) 4th overall

1990 - Keith Tkachuk (1065 points in 1200 NHL games) 19th overall

1991 - Aaron Ward (151 points in 839 NHL games) 5th overall

1992 - Sergei Bautin (30 points in 132 NHL games) 17th overall

1993 - Mats Lindgren (128 points in 387 NHL games) 15th overall

1994 - No First Round Pick

1995 - Shane Doan (945 points in 1466 NHL games and still going) 7th overall

A few things jump out here:

First, the only players to play over 500 games (roughly just over six seasons) with the Jets would include Hawerchuk, Tkachuk, and Doan (last two mostly with Phoenix though).

When you make a first round pick, especially top ten picks, you want to make that player an essential part of your core.

Here's how the more famous of the first rounders went on to do as a  Jet:

- Dave Babych played with the Jets from 1980 to 1986 when they dealt him to Hartford for Ray Neufeld and a bag of pucks.  Probably the third most infamous Jets trade.

- Dale Hawerchuk played with the Jets from 1981 to 1990 when they dealt him to Buffalo.  For Scott Arniel, a player drafted by the Jets in the same draft as Hawerchuk in 1981.  Second most infamous Jets trade.

- Bryan Marchment played 37 games as a Jet before going to Chicago where he would then play out the rest of his 889 NHL games.

- Stu Barnes (yikes fourth overall) played 108 games as  a Jet and then went to Florida.

- Aaron Ward played no games as a Jet and went to Detroit.

- Teemu Selanne played only from from 1992 to 1996 until dealt to Anaheim for Oleg Tverdovsky, Chad Kilger, and a cup of coffee.  Most infamous Jets trade.

The Jets 1.0 maybe didn't have the appeal that Jets 2.0 may have - a newer arena, more money, a salary cap that can keep them more competitive.

Point of the matter is, drafting and developing works and drafting shrewdly is the best way to make sure it works.

Let's take a last minute look at some numbers:

- Of all players drafted in the Jets 1.0 era, only 27 players played over 500 NHL games.

- 11 players played over 1000 NHL games.

- 43 players played over 200 NHL games.

- 110 players never played in an NHL game.

- 17 players drafted after the first round played 500 or more NHL games.

It's unfeasible to compare that to Jets 2.0 due to the lack of stats, but the fact of the matter is Jets 1.0 had a terrible history especially in the late 1980's and early 1990's of making a shrewd, steal-like pick in the later rounds.

It is a different era in hockey and the comparables are maybe not as clear as we would like to think.  Still, the fact that a late round steal still is a good thing now as it was back during Jets 1.0 leads to an ability to compare in  a very slight sense.

So far, Jets 2.0 has had two players play over 200 games - Mark Scheifele (145 points in 227 NHL games) and Jacob Trouba (72 points in 211 NHL games), one over 100 games in Adam Lowry (40 points in 154 games), and two over 70 games in Nikolaj Ehlers (38 points in 72 NHL games) and Andrew Copp (14 points in 78 NHL games).

With Scheifele locked up for eight years and a verdict still pending on Trouba, we can only see Jets 2.0 putting their stamp on these young players and treating them the True North way - with professionalism, outstanding development, and a culture that breeds winning.

With top picks Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, and Josh Morrissey waiting in the wings, the Jets have made at least one fan very confident in their drafting a strong base.

Next Monday morning, coaching.

What are the top things you would consider when building a sustainable, winning franchise?

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