Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments of the decade. Here is the Winnipeg Jets Team of the Decade lineup.
Winnipeg Jets Decade Team
In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers franchise moved to Winnipeg and became the Winnipeg Jets. Over the decade, the Thrashers/Jets franchise reached the playoffs three times, all of which took place once they relocated to Winnipeg. Their most successful season came in 2017-18 when they reached the Western Conference Finals before being ousted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games. Many great players wore either a Thrashers or a Jets jersey in the 2010s, and today we will look at the best of the bunch.
Here is a breakdown of the best players to play for the Winnipeg Jets decade team by each position.
Centre: Mark Scheifele (2011-Present)
Mark Scheifele was picked 7th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Draft. This was the first pick that the franchise made after relocating to Winnipeg. Scheifele has lived up to that initial hype by putting up 415 points in 488 games. Throughout most of his time with the Jets, Scheifele has fulfilled the role of number one centre, and he has become one of the faces of the franchise.
Schiefele is a great two-way centre with elite offensive instincts. He has good size, and it blends well with his strong skating ability to allow him to be effective in all three zones. Scheifele is most adept as a playmaker, but he is more than capable of scoring goals himself. In the 2010s, he scored 169 goals, which was third on the Jets. His best goal-scoring season was the 2018-19 NHL season when he scored 38 goals. In terms of point production, Scheifele’s best season came in 2018-19 when he produced 84 points. In each of the last four seasons, Scheifele has had at least one point per game. In the postseason, Scheifele’s numbers have been just as remarkable. In the 2017-18 NHL playoffs, Scheifele scored 20 points, including 14 goals, in only 17 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points.
As one of the faces of the Jets franchise, Scheifele has taken on a leadership role. He has been an assistant captain since the 2016-17 season. As the first pick after relocation, there were very high expectations for Scheifele. And, he has surpassed those expectations with phenomenal offensive output, a great all-around game, and strong leadership. This makes him an easy selection for the Winnipeg Jets Team of the Decade.
Left-Wing: Andrew Ladd (2010-2016)
Andrew Ladd became a member of the Atlanta Thrashers before the 2010-11 season. He remained a member of the franchise until the end of the 2015-16 season. In his time with the Thrashers/Jets franchise, he scored 305 points in 429 games. Among left-wingers, this was the most on the team. He also led left-wingers in goals and assists.
Ladd was a great leader who played a really tough and gritty game. He played a strong all-around game, and he was impactful in all three zones. He combined that with solid offensive talent. He was never able to be the premier offensive player on his team, but he was always a reliable complementary piece. His best season in the NHL came with the Winnipeg Jets when he scored 62 points in 81 games in the 2014-15 NHL season.
The strongest aspect of Andrew Ladd came into the locker room. He was a remarkable leader, and he was the first captain of the Jets after the relocation. He remained the captain of the organization until his departure in the 2015-16 season. Ladd was a very consistent piece for the franchise, and he led by example on and off the ice.
Right Wing: Blake Wheeler (2011-Present)
In the decade, nobody was as consistent as an offensive force for the Jets franchise as Blake Wheeler. Wheeler scored 205 goals and added 415 assists for a total of 620 points. He led the team in all three of those categories in the decade. In the latter part of the decade, Wheeler took over the captaincy from Andrew Ladd.
Wheeler is a dynamic power forward who has been one of the best wingers in the NHL for many years. Wheeler is a great player in the dirty areas, and he is not scared of playing an aggressive and physical style of hockey. Wheeler’s impact was often underrated, but he took his game to another level in the 2017-18 NHL season when he put up 91 points in 81 games. Wheeler backed that up in 2018-19 when he scored 91 points once again. He is also a strong goal-scorer as he has buried 20 or more goals in each of his last seven seasons. In the postseason, Wheeler’s performance has been electric. In the lone playoff run for the Jets, he picked up 21 points in 17 games.
For the decade as a whole, Wheeler has been the best offensive piece on the Winnipeg Jets. This is shown by the fact that he led his team in all three major offensive categories. When it comes to leadership, Wheeler has been unbelievable and led the Jets to the 2017-18 Western Conference Finals.
Left Defensemen: Toby Enstrom (2007-2018)
For Toby Enstrom, the Thrashers/Jets organization was the only organization that he played within the 2010s. He retired from the NHL after the 2017-18 NHL season. In the decade, Enstrom played 516 games. In this time, Enstrom was often underrated, but he was still an extremely valuable player in every aspect of the game. Offensively, he scored over 200 points in the decade.
Over time, Enstrom became a better and more well-rounded player. There were questions about his size coming into the league, but he made up for it with his strong skating and overall offensive ability. He played a critical role on the power play for the organization, as he scored 96 of his total 208 points on the power play. His best seasons came at the beginning of the decade when his offensive talent was still at its peak. Enstrom played big minutes as he averaged over 22 minutes per game.
Toby Enstrom’s impact on the team was undeniable both on and off the ice. He became associated with the franchise, and he was always looking to improve his game.
Right Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien (2010-2020)
After leaving the Chicago Blackhawks, Dustin Byfuglien played the rest of his games of the 2010s with the Thrashers/Jets franchise. Byfuglien played 609 games with the team. Over that time, Byfuglien was by far the best defencemen in the organization. Over that time, he scored 416 points.
Byfuglien was a well-rounded defenseman who played a different style of hockey compared to everybody else in the league. Offensively, he had a great shot and was a critical piece on the powerplay. He also played very physical and was always looking to land a big hit. Byfuglien was an intimidating force every time he was on the ice. In the decade, Byfuglien led the team in time on ice, and he contributed all over the ice. However, as a converted forward, Byfuglien was always most focused on the offensive side of things. In the 2017-18 NHL playoffs, he produced 16 points in 17 games.
Dustin Byfuglien was an assistant captain of the Jets for most of his time with the organization. He became synonymous with the Jets organization. Even though his time with the Jets may not have ended on the best of terms, his contribution to the Jets’ success can not be overlooked.
Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck (2015-Present)
Connor Hellebuyck only made his debut for the team in the 2015-16 NHL season, but he has been remarkable since his debut season. Even though Ondrej Pavelec played and won more games, his numbers are not even close to as impressive as Hellebuyck’s. Hellebuyck started 236 games and picked up 135 wins. Over the decade, he posted a save percentage of .916 and a goals-against-average of 2.65.
Hellebuyck has emerged as a perennial Vezina Trophy contender. This season, he is in the mix for the Vezina Trophy. His best season was in 2017-18 when he won 44 games, had a save percentage of .924, and a goals-against-average of 2.36. Hellebuyck has been great in the playoffs as well. He backstopped the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2017-18.
Hellebuyck has emerged as one of the best goalies in the NHL. Due to Hellebuyck’s elite performances, it looks as though they have found their future starter.
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