Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets See Bright Future after Disappointing 2016-17 Season

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets See Bright Future after Disappointing 2016-17 Season

Article excerpt

Jets have hope after disappointing season

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WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets know what went right, and what went wrong, in their 2016-17 season.

Talented young players and the ability to score goals were the bright spots. Inconsistent defence, goaltending and plenty of injuries hurt. But as the players cleaned out their lockers Sunday after missing the NHL playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, they were collectively optimistic about the future.

"I don't see many teams more talented than we are right now," captain Blake Wheeler said. "We definitely have our flaws and some holes we could fill in, but on a night-in, night-out basis, with a young team like that, I never thought we were over-matched."

The Jets finished the season setting a franchise record with a seven-game win streak. Their 87 points (40-36-7) was the second highest since the team relocated from Atlanta in 2011.

"We score enough goals and we won quite a few games, but it's those losses and those goals against that are the biggest thing," centre Bryan Little said. "We've got to get better defensively, I think is the main concern. I don't think this team is ever going to have a problem getting offence and scoring goals. We just need to be better defensively and work on keeping the puck out of the net."

Winnipeg's 249 goals for were in the league's upper level, but so were its 256 goals against and the 355 man games it lost to injuries.

Four players collected more than 60 points. Mark Scheifele led with a career-high 82, Wheeler had 74 and sophomore winger Nikolaj Ehlers and rookie sensation Patrik Laine each tallied 64.

Laine led the team with 36 goals (including three hat tricks), while rookie defenceman Josh Morrissey was steady and one of four Jets to play all 82 games.

Third-year forward Adam Lowry commended Laine for handling the intense spotlight from NHL and Finnish media.

"They're kind of pitting you against another guy, him and (Toronto rookie Auston) Matthews it seemed like all year. They want the storylines," Lowry said. "I think he did a great job."

Winnipeg's goaltending situation will be scrutinized in the off-season. …

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