The next team in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Winnipeg Jets. This will be a very interesting team this season. There is still no clear decision on whether the Jets will trade Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele this season or let the year play out. If the year plays out with these two major pieces on the roster, they will be competitive. If not, it changes the complexion of the team and the fantasy hockey impact.
The Jets made the postseason in 2022-23 and didn’t make it out of the first round. They had a number of relevant, even star fantasy players on their roster. They are definitely a team to look at this season once again with new players getting bigger opportunities and the ability to score. Now let’s dive into each position and the fantasy value you can expect from players in Winnipeg this season.
Winnipeg Jets Fantasy Hockey Preview
The Jets have a fairly deep team this season if everybody stays healthy. Not everybody will be relevant in fantasy hockey, but they will definitely have more players you will be keeping your eye on. The top-six, like most teams, have players definitely worth rostering. Let’s begin with the two sure fire hits, Scheifele and Kyle Connor.
2 Jets Above the Rest
Scheifele has already been brought up as someone who isn’t going to be with the Jets after this season. He will have some extra incentive to play well as it is his contract year and he’s looking to get paid. He’s been underpaid for a number of years as a point-per-game player in six of the past seven seasons. He’s coming off his highest goal total in a season (42), despite dropping below a point per game. Scheifele is a major contributor to the Jets’ power play as well. With no competition, his ice time will rise even higher than it was last season and he’s without a doubt the top-line centerman.
Connor is arguably the best forward on the team. He has been a very good offensive player since his rookie season and put up 80 points last season. He is also one of the best goal-scorers in the league as well as he hit 47 in 2021-22. Like Scheifele, he is a major contributor on the power play and is one of only two forwards on the Jets who logged more than 17 minutes per game last season (20:32). He will be heavily leaned on for offensive and ice time.
Grab Them in the Later Rounds
Nikolaj Ehlers is definitely a very good offensive player, but he’s missed significant time in four of the past five seasons. He always comes close to putting up a point per game. He isn’t worth a high pick though as there is risk involved. If he does stay healthy like he has done early in his career, watch out. Ehlers is without a doubt a top-six winger and might see the majority of his playing time on the top line. If so, he can easily hit a point-per-game for the first time.
The Jets brought in three forwards from the Los Angeles Kings when they traded away Pierre-Luc Dubois. These players were Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, and Rasmus Kupari. The latter isn’t fantasy-relevant yet. It might take a few years. But Vilardi and Iafallo should be slotted right in on the second line. They will be counted on even more than they were with the Kings to produce offensively. Vilardi broke out last season and should be able to build off of that with the opportunity he has. Iafallo, on the other hand, is a steady producer and scored at a 50-point pace last season. Both of these players are strong options for fantasy hockey depth later in drafts.
There are only two other Jets’ forwards I would even consider, Cole Perfetti and Nino Niederreiter. Perfetti got injured last season and missed 31 games, but scored at a 59-point pace in his rookie season. He will likely get a spot on the wing in the top six alongside Vilardi and Iafallo. Perfetti is only going to get better and I’m counting on him to avoid the sophomore slump because of his injury last season. Niederreiter put up 41 points last season, split between the Nashville Predators and Jets. But he was locked into a top-six role. This season with Perfetti set to overtake him, Niederreiter is likely the top winger on the third line. If this is the case, he might be a last-round pick. But if he gets minutes in the top six, he’s more valuable because of the other categories he also hits in fantasy hockey.
There is one clear standout on the Jets’ defense, Josh Morrissey. Rick Bowness took over as the head coach in Winnipeg before last season and helped Morrissey reach his full offensive potential. He went from a career high of 12 goals and 37 points to 16 goals and 76 points in 78 games last season. He was big on the power play, logged the most minutes in his career, and finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting. It might be tough to replicate or even top last season for the Jets’ number one defender. While I don’t think he hits 80 points, or even 70, anything close to that is a success and worth drafting in fantasy.
The only other defender worth looking at on the Jets’ defense is Neal Pionk. he has offensive capabilities and put up 33 points last season. If it weren’t for Morrissey’s offensive breakout, Pionk could have gotten more attention. He won’t be a high pick in fantasy drafts because of his more limited power play time, but he logs good minutes and hits all categories on top of everything.
There is no doubt that Hellebuyck will be drafted very early in any fantasy hockey draft this season. He is one of the NHL’s elite goalies who is a former Vezina Trophy winner and a three-time finalist. His career save percentage is .916, which is great, and he’s hit .920 in two of the past four seasons. Even with the uncertainty surrounding the Jets, Hellebuyck is starting the season with the team. He will end up on a better team if he’s even traded at the deadline as well. He’s always a safe bet to carry your fantasy team in goal.
Laurent Brossoit isn’t a bad choice as a late-round third goalie on your fantasy team either. He stepped up for the Vegas Golden Knights last season and it got the attention of the Jets this offseason. Brossoit went 7-0-3 with a 2.17 GAA and .927 SV% last season. Sure it was a small sample size, but he could become the starter if Hellebuyck is dealt. He’s someone to keep an eye on, but maybe not draft.
The Jets have some great fantasy options again this season and you can even find some steals on their roster. Depending on how the season goes, certain players’ value will even rise higher. This is a team to draft players from and also watch on the waiver wire throughout the season. Next up in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Anaheim Ducks.
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!