Ryan Dadoun

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What Went Wrong: WPG, PHI

Monday, June 19, 2017


We’re continuing with our What Went Wrong series where we look at teams that failed to make the playoffs and discuss what led to them falling short.  We also focus on some players that underperformed or who the team will be looking for more from next season.

 

We’re getting near the end of the series so this week we’ll be looking at Philadelphia and Winnipeg, which each had an okay record, but couldn’t close that final gap.  Feel free to also view part one (Colorado and Vancouver), part two (New Jersey and Arizona), part three (Buffalo and Detroit), part four (Florida and Dallas), and part five (Los Angeles and Carolina).

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @RyanDadoun on Twitter.


Winnipeg Jets

 

The Jets 40-35-7 finish might not have been good enough to get them into the postseason, but that still represents a nine-point jump from their 2015-16 campaign.  This season also featured the successful debut of rookie Patrik Laine, who recorded 36 goals and 64 points in 73 contests.  So it’s not a stretch to say that there are ways to look at the Jets campaign in a positive light.

 

That being said, there were some glaring issues with Winnipeg.  The single biggest problem was the club’s goaltending as the Jets finished with the fourth-worst goals allowed at 255.  That’s what kept them out of the playoffs despite finishing seventh in goals for with 246.  Winnipeg was particularly bad when it came to killing penalties (77.5%), which is a problem that was compounded by the fact that the Jets were shorthanded the third most times in the league (275 times).  The only real silver lining there was that the tied for second in the league with 10 shorthanded markers.

 

Winnipeg also struggled on the draw (48.5%) and the Jets had one of the worst records in the league when winning after 20 minutes (17-7-2, .654).  From their goaltending woes, to shorthanded problems, to faceoff issues, and their issues when it came to holding a lead, there aren’t a shortage of issues they need to address before they can become a serious playoff team.

 

At least the Jets core came through though.  In addition to Laine’s strong rookie campaign, Mark Scheifele had 82 points, Blake Wheeler finished with 74, and sophomore Nikolaj Ehlers recorded 64, so the Jets do have the cornerstones of a great offense.  Dustin Byfuglien was also a workhorse while fellow blueliner Jacob Trouba ended up doing really well once he finally ended his holdout as a restricted free agent in early November.

 

They’ll definitely be a team to watch going forward.

 

Tyler MyersTyler Myers is probably never going to replicate his Calder Cup-winning 2009-10 campaign, but he’s still a very useful top-four defenseman.  Unfortunately the Jets were only able to get 11 games out of him in 2016-17 due to a lower-body injury.  Getting him back next season should be a significant boost and a badly needed one given all the defensive problems the Jets ran into in 2016-17.

 

Connor Hellebuyck - Connor Hellebuyck was solid in his rookie campaign, posting a 2.34 GAA and .918 save percentage in 26 starts.  Unfortunately he dropped hard last season with a 2.89 GAA and .907 save percentage in 56 contests.  If he can bounce back in 2017-18 then that alone might be enough to carry the Jets into the postseason given how strong their offense is.  It’s worth noting that he’s currently a restricted free agent and given the campaign he’s coming off of, he’ll likely end up with a bridge deal, so these next couple years will be critical to the course of Hellebuyck’s career.

 

Nic Petan – After Laine excelled as a rookie and Ehlers broke out as a sophomore, are there any more Jets youngsters that could possibly step up in 2017-18?  I wouldn’t expect any of the Jets’ prospects to step in and have the impact that Laine or Ehlers had, but if you’re looking for untapped potential among Winnipeg’s forwards, then Nicolas Petan might be your best bet.  The 22-year-old was an offensive force with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and he excelled in the AHL too.  In 2016-17 he played primarily with Winnipeg, but was limited to just 10:54 minutes per contest and consequently only recorded 13 points in 54 contests.  It’ll be interesting to see if Petan can become another significant contributor in the Jets’ already stacked offense next season.

 

Marko Dano – Like Petan, Marko Dano is another young forward with untapped upside, but Dano hasn’t provided Jets’ fans with as much reason for optimism.  The 22-year-old was taken ahead of Petan with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, but Dano has floated around the league since.  He was originally drafted by Columbus, which then packaged him in a bigger trade with Chicago to land Brandon Saad before the Blackhawks eventually shipped him to Winnipeg in a trade to get Andrew Ladd.  Along the way, Dano has recorded 17 goals and 42 points in 107 NHL games, including 11 points in 38 contests last season.  He’s agreed to a one-year, $850,000 contract for 2017-18, which highlights that he hasn’t done enough yet to warrant taking a long-term risk on.  With that in mind, this coming season will be something of a “show me” campaign for him.

 

Philadelphia Flyers

 

The Flyers managed to make the playoffs in 2015-16, which gave reason for optimism going into 2016-17, but Philadelphia ran into problems almost immediately.  The goaltending duo of Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth suffered mightily in October and while there was a noticeable improvement in Mason in November, Neuvirth’s struggles continued until he was knocked out for nearly two months with a lower-body injury sustained in mid-November.

 

Fortunately the Flyers were at least scoring goals over that period so that the team still had a so-so 6-7-2 record through Nov. 11.  However, through that date Philadelphia had yet to win a game where they had scored fewer than three goals.  It wouldn’t be until Dec. 11 when they finally ended that with a 1-0 overtime victory against Detroit.

 

Even with warning signs like that and Neuvirth sidelined, the Flyers did look like they were over the hump when they rode a 10-game winning streak from Nov. 27 through Dec. 14, boosting their record to 19-10-3.  Mason fell back off the horse for a while after that though and the team in general struggled to the point where they had dipped to 22-19-6 through Jan. 21.

 

At that point Michal Neuvirth was back and doing alright, though he being serviceable rather than good enough to lead them.  From that point in late January onward, the Flyers had some mild hot-and-cold streaks, but for the most part they were consistently close enough to a playoff spot to have an outside hope without actually having a realistic shot.  If you look at the Flyers’ chances on Sports Club Stats for context, by mid-January they were hovering around a 10% chance and things never got meaningfully better.

 

Philadelphia’s final record was 39-33-10.

 

Michal Neuvirth – The Flyers opted to re-sign Michal Neuvirth while it looks like Steve Mason will end up looking for work elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.  That’s a bit of an odd choice if you go by last season’s performance as Mason ended up having a half-decent season even if he was very inconsistent while Neuvirth posted a 2.82 GAA and .891 save percentage even when he was healthy.  Assuming that the Flyers don’t lose Neuvirth in the expansion draft, they’ll need him to step up next season as they’ll need him to start in 40-plus games if they don’t land an established starter over the summer.  Keep in mind that while Anthony Stolarz might be the team’s goaltender of the future, the 23-year-old only has seven NHL games under his belt.

 

Claude Giroux – With an $8,275,000 million annual cap hit, it’s fair to expect Claude Giroux to be the team’s offensive leader, but he’s been on the decline in that regard for years.  At his peak from 2011-12 through 2013-14, Giroux had 69 goals and 227 points in 207 games, but his offensive output has dropped for three consecutive seasons to the point where he was limited to 14 goals and 58 points in 82 games last season.  To be fair to Giroux though, he had offseason hip and abdominal surgeries, which are believed to have hindered him during the 2016-17 campaign, so that could account for his most recent decline.  Either way, the Flyers will be counting on him to bounce back.

 

Shayne Gostisbehere - Shayne Gostisbehere’s sophomore campaign was a bit of a mixed bag.  He did do well offensively with seven goals and 39 points in 76 contests, but he was inconsistent and had an ugly minus-21 rating.  The Flyers have already signed him to a six-year, $27 million contract this summer, signaling how much hope they have in his future.  That contract could look like a steal if he lives up to the promise he showed in his rookie season, but of course anytime you sign a player with just 142 NHL games on his resume to a long-term deal, you’re taking a risk.

 

Sean Couturier – I was on the fence about whether or not to include Sean Couturier.  The idea that he has another level offensively has been a constant note throughout his career thus far, but after six NHL seasons he still hasn’t even reached the 40-point milestone, so perhaps that’s an idea we should be abandoning.  He did record five goals, 17 points, and a plus-18 rating in his final 19 games of 2016-17 though so it will at least be interesting to see how he follows that up next season.



Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
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