Editorials

NHL Central Division: Team Offense Comparison For 2016-17

By Colin Likas
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Apr 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler (26) celebrates his game-tying goal with Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The Winnipeg Jets won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 5: Winnipeg Jets

This ranking could be too low if Patrik Laine pans out as quickly as a second overall draft pick should. But for now, it’s a pretty fair assessment of the Jets, who actually finished with the fewest goals in the Central Division last season — 215, one fewer than Minnesota and Colorado.

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Wheeler had a breakout season last year, earning the team captaincy in the offseason behind 26 goals and 52 assists. Mark Scheifele, Mathieu Perreault and Bryan Little are also stout offensively, and Dustin Byfuglien can provide a lot of push from the back end. Tyler Myers isn’t an offensive dud at the blue line either.

And, unlike Minnesota and Colorado before, the Jets can offer some fine contributors lower in the lineup. Those guys also happen to be really young, and they could be even better soon.

Nikolaj Ehlers was impressive in his first NHL action last season and is just 20. The Blackhawks may have given up on Marko Dano too soon, and we’ll get to see if that is true this upcoming season. Drew Stafford is a solid veteran. Alexander Burmistrov isn’t totally useless.

And let’s not forget about Laine, who some project as more of an immediate impact player in the NHL than 2016’s first overall pick, Auston Matthews. Winnipeg could be climbing these ranks this season.

Next: Number 4

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