I know this is a tired old adage to go through but I promise by the time you get to the end there will be a point (hopefully).
For most teams this is an easy exercise, in fact I would argue for a majority of teams it is easy to ascertain. I know there are contrarians out there who would dispute this but quite simply Sidney Crosby is the best Penguin, Connor McDavid is the best Oiler, Jamie Benn is the best Star, Auston Matthews the best Maple Leaf, Brent Burns the best Shark, Vladimir Tarasenko the best Blue, Jack Eichel the best Sabre, Erik Karlsson the best Senator, John Tavares the best Islander, Johnny Gaudreau the best Flame, Ryan Getzlaf the best Duck, Patrick Kane the best Blackhawk Devan Dubnyk the best Wild, Nathan MacKinnon the best Avalanche and as of now Taylor Hall is the best Devil. There that’s half the league just like that, we can dispute these some other day. My point is that you have other teams where the water gets a bit murkier: for the Capitals is it Alex Ovechkin or Braden Holtby? For the Lightning is it Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov? For the Flyers is it Wayne Simmonds or Claude Giroux?
For one team in particular it becomes a vastly larger and more complex debate than the surface would have you believe. When I asked myself “who is the best Jet” I instantly said Patrick Laine. The #2 overall draft pick score 36 goals and 64 points across 73 games last year in his first year in the NHL. He is flashy, electric with a quick burst of speed and made a number of highlight reels with his goal scoring capabilities last year. He fell behind only Auston Matthews in goals (40) and points (69). The two of them scored more goals in their rookie season than any player dating back to 2005-2006 when a player by the name of Alex Ovechkin had 52 goals and one Sidney Crosby had 39 goals.
I would like to present 4 other players who are actually in this argument and have valid points to their side.
Patrick Laine: 36G; 28A; 64Pts; +7; 5 GWG; 14PPP
Player A (7th overall pick in 2011)
2016-2017: 32G; 50A; 82Pts; +18; 5 GWG; 15PPP
2015-2016: 29G; 32A; 61Pts; +4; 3 GWG; 11PPP
Player B (5th overall picks in 2004)
2016-2017: 26G; 48A; 74Pts; +6; 4 GWG; 21PPP
2015-2016: 26G; 52A; 78Pts; +8; 5 GWG; 17PPP
Player C (9th overall pick in 2014)
2016-2017: 25G; 39A; 64Pts; +1; 4 GWG; 12PPP
2015 – 2016: 15G; 23A; 38Pts; +3; 0 GWG; 11PPP
Player D (245th overall pick in 2003)
2016-2017: 13G; 39A; 52Pts; +10; 1GWG; 14PPP
2015-2016: 19G; 34A; 53Pts; +4; 6 GWG; 17PPP
Some of you might have figured it out from the Draft information but:
-Player A is Mark Scheifele (whose name I will rarely ever spell correct) to me he is your true north, a name that will likely lead the team in points again and is vastly underrated for what he provides point production wise. For my money, Mark is the best player on the Jets right now.
-Player B with the elite power play points is Blake Wheeler; a player who I never give creedance to but he’s a 70+pt player over the last two years and 60+ points in the two years prior to that. On any given year fewer than 20 players will score 70 points and Blake has now done it in back to back years which cuts that list down to fewer than 15. Blake Wheeler was ranked 39 this year, clearly I’m not the only one who is overlooking Blake in regularity.
-Player C is an up and coming player like Patrick who increased his point production by 26 points between his rookie and Sophomore year and I would argue he will eclipse 70points this year: Nikolaj Ehlers. I think Nikolaj is someone who ‘could’ be the top player in the next 3-4 years, his goal scoring capabilities and his recent abillity to continue to improve his play as he adapts to the NHL and has a learning curve slightly slower than others. The ceiling has not been seen from this player.
-Player D is admittetly the least flashy stat wise but he’s in here because he is a Defenseman who played Forward and is back at Defense again: Dustin Byfuglien. Any defenseman eligible player getting 50+ points is a huge asset to have, especially when they are getting you 15 PPP and over 12 goals. Having their best defensive player be Player D was purely coincidence.
Until Patrick eclipses Mark in points, Scheifele is my bet for best Jet; but, if Blake scores 70+ points for a 3rdconsecutive year he could take that spot. Nikolaj is on the rise, especially in the goals scored department and Dustin is always in the conversation. Patrick is chasing all of them as the most hyped option. Winnipeg has a great core of young players and should be a contender in years to come.