Winnipeg has an NHL team. Old news. They’ve played on par with how Atlanta played for most of its existence, along the line of mediocrity. Nobody expected them to be any better than they have been this year and the fans are so excited to have a team they’ll accept this mediocrity for now. But can the Jets do what few small markets have been able to do: Become successful while operating on a limited budget.
The Nashville Predators have found this balance through solid drafting and sound coaching. They’ve also been fortunate to have very good goaltending, from Vokoun through to Renne. The Jets have average goaltending, they have good young prospects, but like most small market teams, by the time these prospects become true dominating forces in the league, they will be free agents and the small market Jets will have to overpay to keep them. I know, ironic. Winnipeg is not a desired location, so they have to make it a desired location. They have to look at Detriot as a model to follow, as Detroit is not a desirable city, but is now a desireable hockey location due to a well run corporation where success if expected.
Winnipeg has drafted well, in spite of the fact they picked Mark Schiefle instead of Sean Coutourier, but is this record of strong drafting due to good scouting or due to drafting in a strong position? You can look at some of their later draft picks, from the second round and on, and see a lack of success. From that I draw the conclusion that they’ve drafted well due to their draft position and not due to their scouting staff. This will have to change. It’s great to see Winnipeg with a team again, but they’re going to have to establish a true number 1 goaltender and draft better in the later rounds if they’re to see real succes on the ice.