Ten years ago, as the calendar flipped from 2009 to 2010, it had been 13 years since Winnipeg last had an NHL team of their own but it felt like it was only a matter of time before that was resolved, it was just a matter of finding out which franchise was going to be relocated north. Many had assumed that it was going to be the original Jets who flew south to Phoenix, but still struggled over those 13 years to find a strong foothold in the Arizona desert. It turned out to be the Atlanta Thrashers who had issues of their own in Georgia and an ownership group that didn’t even really want the hockey club to begin with and was only part of a larger purchase of the city’s arena and NBA club.
So after one season in Atlanta to start the new decade, the Thrashers moved north and were rechristened the Jets and the rest as they say is history as the Jets have spent the last nine years in Manitoba’s capital city.
Now as the calendar flips from 2019 to 2020, it’s time to put together an All-Decade team. Of course other sites have posted their all-decade teams as well, but pretty much all of them have posted a solo top line, a lone top pairing and a single goalie.
Where is the fun in that?
Hockey is a team sport played by more than six guys, right? There is more than enough talent to cover four lines, three pairings and a few extra guys to keep in the pressbox, so here is JetsNation’s 2010-2019 Winnipeg (with some slight hints of the last remnants of Atlanta hockey) Jets…
Starting at forward…
LW – Andrew Ladd (2010 to 2016: 429 GP, 139 Goals, 166 Assists, 305 Points)
C – Mark Scheifele (2011 to 2019: 479 GP, 165 Goals, 236 Assists, 401 Points)
RW – Blake Wheeler (2010 to 2019: 670 GP, 200 Goals, 409 Assists, 609 Points)
This is the trio of guys you’re seeing in pretty much all the aforementioned all-decade teams and it’s pretty hard to argue. A former captain during the transition from the Atlanta Thrashers to Jets, the current captain who has had back to back 90+ point seasons, and the team’s first pick since the move north and voted most-likely to be a future Jets captain.
And lest anyone question Ladd being up here instead of say Little or Laine who both would have been just as worthy for top line status on this team, think back to Ladd’s last season with the Jets when there was an actual debate (for at least a small time anyway) on wither or not the Jets should work on keeping Dustin Byfuglien around long term, or Andrew Ladd. The early years of Jets 2.0 were pretty lean and many a night the lone shining beacon of hope Jets fans had was the captain.
LW – Evander Kane (2010 to 2015: 361 GP, 109 Goals, 113 Assists, 222 Points)
C – Bryan Little (2010 to 2019: 716 GP, 180 Goals, 274 Assists, 454 Points)
RW – Patrik Laine (2016 to 2019: 266 GP, 119 Goals, 94 Assists, 213 Points)
It was actually tough to keep Bryan Little off the top line considering everything he’s meant to the franchise, but Scheifele’s point per game average wins out in the end. Little had four 20+ goal seasons in the middle of the decade and was typically underrated throughout his entire time. Evander Kane was a lightning rod of controversy in his time with Winnipeg, but there was no disputing that when he was on his game and focused he was a dynamic and exciting player for the Jets. Of course Laine has to round out this trio as it would be insane to limit someone with his kind of shot to bottom six forward duty.
LW – Kyle Connor (2016 to 2019: 209 GP, 78 Goals, 77 Assists, 155 Points)
C – Mathieu Perreault (2014 to 2019: 381 GP, 78 Goals, 130 Assists, 208 Points)
RW – Nikolaj Ehlers (2015 to 2019: 329 GP, 103 Goals, 120 Assists, 223 Points)
Pretty sure this is a line that Jets fans wouldn’t mind seeing together in the here and now let alone on an All-Decade team. Perreault has always been underrated but he’s easily the most versatile player I dare say the franchise has ever seen. Perreault has an ability to be able to play with almost anyone on his line and somehow elevate them to be better than they really are – just ask Matt Hendricks. It feels a bit wrong to keep KC and Ehlers out of the top six on this team, but if we’re taking their entire time into account and not just their most recent play, then it’s worth noting that Ehlers needed to be carried at times and Connor benefits from having linemates that can help him out. Perreault is perfect in this role.
LW – Adam Lowry (2014 to 2019: 388 GP, 57 Goals, 62 Assists, 119 Points)
C – Andrew Copp (2014 to 2019: 324 GP, 41 Goals, 57 Assists, 98 Points)
RW – Michael Frolik (2013 to 2015: 84 GP, 34 Goals, 50 Assists, 84 Points)
Of course Copp and Lowry remain together on this team, how could they not? Over the last few seasons the two have worked exceptionally well on the ice and are usually the go-to shutdown line that can match up against other team’s top lines and still produce a little bit of offense. As tempting as it was to put someone like Brandon Tanev back with them, I’ll give Frolik the nod as Taters was an under-appreciated player in his time with the Jets.
Healthy Scratches: Brandon Tanev (2015 to 2019: 195 GP, 24 Goals, 27 Assists, 51 Points), Nik Antropov (2010 to 2013: 261 GP, 61 Goals, 100 Assists, 81 Points) & Chris Thorburn (2010 to 2017: 554 GP, 37 Goals, 51 Assists, 88 Points)
Look, if the Frolik thing doesn’t work out then we at least still have Tanev on this team to jump on that fourth line because we know that will work. Nik Antropov’s production with the Jets waned a little bit as he was in the final two years of his 13 year NHL career, but in 09-10 he was the Thrashers leading scorer (I know, not a high bar to clear, but still) and he of course has the first Jets 2.0 goal so it would be wrong not to have him on this roster. As for Chris Thorburn? I was going to keep the healthy scratches to two, but we need someone who is “good in the room” right? Thorburn is currently third all-time in games played with this franchise and likely will stay in the top five for at least three or four more seasons.
Tobias Enstrom (2010 to 2018: 555 GP, 44 Goals, 194 Assists, 238 Points)
Dustin Byfuglien (2010 to 2019: 609 GP, 122 Goals, 294 Assists, 416 Points)
This just feels right, right? It’s like a warm, comfy sweater. Seeing those two names together probably brought a smile to your face, or at least it should.
Personally, in my eyes, Dustin Byfuglien was the franchise. Some of the most memorable moments over the last ten years have Dustin front and center. He introduced himself to Winnipeg fans rather abruptly in the very first shift of the very first pre-season game. He’s made all-star games, he’s hit people really hard, he’s made funny faces in the middle of games, he’s literally dragged multiple people on the ice.
Tobias was perhaps this team’s most reliable defenseman on a night basis for at lead. He’s going to be in this franchise’s top ten for scoring for a few seasons yet even though Granted the last couple of seasons he had in Winnipeg was when he started to show his age and it’s a shame that because of those last two injury filled seasons that he’ll wind up being under-appreciated by most Jets fans.
Josh Morrissey (2015 to 2019: 250 GP, 22 Goals, 72 Assists, 94 Points)
Jacob Trouba (2013 to 2019: 408 GP, 42 Goals, 137 Assists, 179 Points)
Another familiar pair for Jets fans. Morrissey continues to write his story with the Jets but in the four seasons he’s been with the club he’s been top four level pretty much game in and game out.
Jacob Trouba had a chance to be a legend with the franchise and the heir apparent to Dustin Byfuglien once his time was done, but it wasn’t to be. As it is, it always felt like Trouba was good, but could have the potential to be even better and had flashes of that in his time with the Jets, but never quite got there on a regular basis.
Zach Bogosian (2010 to 2015: 346 GP, 31 Goals, 77 Assists, 108 Points)
Tyler Myers (2014 to 2019: 270 GP, 29 Goals, 85 Assists, 114 Points)
Tyler Myers and Zach Bogosian were essentially traded for each other in the Evander Kane deal to Buffalo and while Myers did have more to contribute on the offense of side of things, Bogosian was maybe a little more reliable in his own end of the ice and wasn’t too bad in helping chip in some offense. As far as third pairings go, this is a decent one for the Jets All-Decade team to have and it’s not like there are really any better options left at this point when you consider some of the names that could go in this third pairing are the likes of Mark Stuart, Ben Chiarot, Grant Clitsome or Paul Postma.
That’s not to say Myers and Bogosian were bad though, it’s just if this had been a pairing we would have seen during games, we would have gone back and forth between cursing their names when they screwed up to cheering them on after great plays.
Healthy Scratch: Ron Hainsey (2010 to 2013: 265 GP, 8 Goals, 60 Assists, 68 Points)
It’s a tough call here to give the nod to Ron Hainsey over say someone like Mark Stuart who has more time with the club. Hainsey wasn’t overly great at either end of the ice, but he wasn’t all bad really. He had positive defensive point share numbers in each season he played with the Thrashers and Jets, and while he never actually scored a goal in the two seasons he was in Winnipeg, nor played a full season with the Jets, he still managed more points in less time than Stuart had.
And In Goal…
Starter: Connor Hellebuyck (2015 to 2019: 227 GS, 131-71-19, .917 Sv%, 16 SO)
Backup: Ondrej Pavelec (2010 to 2017: 346 GS, 146-148-47, .908 Sv%, 17 SO)
Healthy Scratch: Al Montoya (2012 to 2014: 27 GS, 16-9-3, .916 Sv%, 3 SO)
Connor is by far the clear cut choice to be this team’s number one goalie. Better numbers all around and of course has backstopped the Jets to three playoff series wins. Pavelec never did live up to expecations that Jets fans had of him when he first came to Winnipeg with the club in 2011. The Atlanta Thrashers didn’t have much in 2011, but it felt like they at least had a franchise goalie. They did… some nights. Other nights, Pavelec was at best super inconsistent and never got beyond being a ‘reactionary’ goalie instead of a smart, positionally sound goalie like Hellebuyck has developed into.
As far as a third goalie? The Jets have had quite a fun history and revolving door of backup goalies and while it may have been more fitting to put Michael Hutchinson, Laurent Brossoit or Chris Mason in the press box, Al Montoya is one of the few Jets I wish had been kept around longer. He had fantastic numbers in the two seasons he was with the Jets.
So there is our Winnipeg Jets All-Decade team! Agree with it? Disagree? Did we leave anyone out that you would have had on the club? Would you set the lineups differently? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments section or on either our Twitter feed or Facebook page!