Potential 2020-21 Winnipeg Jets Bounce Back or Break Out Players

2020-21 Winnipeg Jets
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Welcome to the latest series here at Last Word on Hockey. Each day, we will take a look at a new team and examine three of their potential breakout or bounce-back players. These players have the chance to make a serious difference with their teams this upcoming season. These players can be new faces or familiar ones looking to have a strong return to form. Each day we will be looking at a different team! Today we will take a look at the potential 2020-21 Winnipeg Jets key players. 

2020-21 Winnipeg Jets Candidates

Bounceback: Josh Morrissey

During the 2019 off-season, the Jets lost Dustin ByfuglienJacob TroubaTyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot from their blue-line. This left Josh Morrissey and the Winnipeg Jets with an inexperienced defensive group. It didn’t go well. The Jets allowed the second-most shots on goal and third most scoring chances in the NHL last season. Morrissey’s game also slipped. All of his on-ice stats went down, and he was the second-worst Jets’ defenceman in high danger chances for percentage with 39.6 percent. The only defenceman that was worse was his usual defensive partner, Tucker Poolman

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The Athletic’s Murat Ates and Dom Luszcyszyn both concluded that Morrissey struggled to play with the in-experienced Poolman, who had 24 games of NHL experience before last year. Poolman particularly struggled to clear the puck, which Trouba usually did when he and Morrissey were regular partners. This lead to Morrissey having a lot more responsibility than he was used to. The season before, Morrissey and Trouba had a 51.12 Corsi for percentage going up against the league’s top players. The Morrissey-Poolman pairing had a 46.53 Corsi for percentage.

Things turned around for Morrissey once the Jets acquired Dylan DeMelo near the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators. DeMelo is an extremely intelligent defenceman who makes the game look incredibly simple. Morrissey and DeMelo had a 53.15 Corsi for percentage. DeMelo’s arrival gave Morrissey some help in the defensive zone and allowed him to calm down.

If these players are paired together this year, Morrissey will be in a position to get his game back. Even though he struggled, he did score the same amount of points as the year prior even though he was more conservative, and his overall Corsi for percentage at even-strength went down by 1.4 percent. He might have improved, but it was hidden because of the chaos of last year. With a more dependable partner, not only could Morrissey bounceback, he could breakout. It wouldn’t be the first time one of DeMelo’s partners did. He was Thomas Chabot‘s main partner two years ago. 

Bounce back: Derek Forbort

Derek Forbort is a smooth-skating 6′-4″ defensive defenceman who had a rough season last year. An off-season back injury limited Forbort to 20 games between the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames. When healthy, Forbort is a top-four defenceman who plays 20 minutes a night. He should have the opportunity to play top-four minutes again on a weak Jets left-side.

He is paired with offensive defenceman Neal Pionk in CapFriendly’s depth-chart for the 2020-21 Winnipeg Jets. Forbort’s defensive presence will allow Pionk to do his thing offensively. If healthy, Forbort has a good shot of breaking his offensive career-highs because he will be passing the puck to a much more talented forward group than he ever had with the Kings.

Breakout: Dylan Samberg 

The Winnipeg Jets need a good defensive defenceman who can transition the puck out of the offensive zone. Those are two areas where Dylan Samberg excelled in college hockey. Scouts are confident those skills will translate to the NHL. The question is when? Samberg signed his entry-level deal making him a rookie defenceman for Winnipeg this year. In a normal year, he would probably see time in the AHL. However, with an AHL season uncertain because of the pandemic, Samberg could be looked at more seriously to play in the NHL.

The scouting report on Samberg is he is a big 6′-4″ left-shot defenceman with good mobility, strong defensive play, and is good at moving the puck up the ice. If he can transition those skills to the NHL level, he could form a good bottom pairing with Poolman. With the way last season went, any defenceman that can play well in their own zone will be rewarded with playing time.

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