The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Winnipeg Jets 2017-18 season.
Winnipeg Jets 2017-18 Season
The Previous Season
Winnipeg had only qualified for the playoffs once (2014-15) since moving from Atlanta. The Jets were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in four straight games.
A maturing Jets team missed out on the final Western Conference playoff spot by seven points. Missing out on the postseason was disappointing, but head coach Paul Maurice and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff were seeing their plan come to fruition.
Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine took big leaps forward in their offencive play with their first 30-goal seasons. Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien were starting to shape a young defencemen group. Connor Hellebuyck took the reins in net and became the unquestioned number one goalie.
The Jets were active in free agency as they picked up Steve Mason from the Philadelphia Flyers as an insurance policy in case Hellebuyck was injured or ineffective. Winnipeg also beefed up its emerging defence with Dmitry Kulikov from the Buffalo Sabres.
Slow and Steady Plan
Cheveldayoff resisted the urge to make a big move and try to accelerate the rebuild. However, he stuck to the plan let the young players mature. Winnipeg isn’t often derided as a place that can’t attract big-name free agents because of its climate.
Jets management has drafted smartly and they stocked their team with young talent at an affordable price. It has taken time for the team to mature, but this season was the one of the first seasons the Jets reaped the rewards.
Fast on the Ice
The team’s slow build was antithesis of how it looked on the ice. Winnipeg ranked second in goals scored in the league during the regular season. Laine really took the next step as the 19-year-old led the team in scoring with 44 goals, which was second in the league.
Laine scored the most goals by a Jets player since the move from Atlanta. Blake Wheeler continued to be a team leader as he registered 23 goals and 68 assists for 91 points. Ehlers and Scheifele both reach 60 points while Connor tallied 31 goals and 25 assists for 56 points.
Byfuglien was top-pointgetter for defencemen with eight goals and 37 assists for 45 points.
Cheveldayoff finally pulled the trigger on making a big move as he acquired Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues for Erik Foley, a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2020 draft.
Winnipeg also added Joe Morrow from the Montreal Canadiens to shore up its defencive depth. The Habs got a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft in return.
Laine only managed five goals in the playoffs, but Scheifele picked the slack with 14 goals, including 11 on the road. Scheifele also added six assists for 20 points. Wheeler led the Jets in points with three goals and 18 assists for 21 points. Byfuglien
Stastny proved to be a solid addition with six goals and nine assists for the team. Laine ended up with five goals and seven assists for 12 points.
Hellebuyck won nine playoff games and generated a 2.36 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage. However, he’d be key in the second round showdown against the Nashville Predators.
First Round vs. Minnesota Wild
The Jets finally won a playoff series for the first time since the relocation by beating the Minnesota Wild. Winnipeg won three games at the MTS Centre, which would become a fortress during the 2017-18 regular season.
Minnesota would take Game 3 in the Twin Cities, but Hellebuyck wouldn’t allow any more goals the rest of the series. Winnipeg took the series four games to one.
Second Round vs. Nashville Predators
This was a matchup that everyone in the sport was looking forward to. The much-anticipated series was a conference semifinal thanks to the divisional playoff format.
The road team only one game each, but it was the Jets that neutralized the usually raucous crowd at the Bridgestone Arena with three victories over the Predators there. Winnipeg was able to take advantage of a surprisingly shaky Pekka Rinne to win the series.
The Jets were able to 18 goals in their final three wins of the series over the Predators. Hellebuyck allowed only three goals in the final two wins over Nashville.
Conference Final vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Things started out well in the first game of the series against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights with a 4-2 victory at home. However, Marc-Andre Fleury and Vegas were well-rested and Winnipeg was coming off of a seven-game slugfest against a bitter divisional rival.
The usually potent Jets offence was limited to just two goals per game in their final three defeats. The Golden Knights received timely scoring and played well with the lead to book a trip to the Stanley Cup final in their first season.
Winnipeg and their loyal fans didn’t get the ending they wanted with a parade down Portage Avenue. However, the groundwork has been laid for sustained success in Manitoba.
There’s a strong crew of talented players that have a shot of ending Canada’s Stanley Cup drought.