As we reach mid-August, the amount of RFA’s left unsigned is staggering. For the Winnipeg Jets, they still have two of their young, top players out on the line. Kyle Connor, a 22-year-old left winger, and Patrik Laine, a 20-year-old right winger, are still unsigned even after finishing 3rd and 4th, respectively, in points this season. Both wingers are coming off of entry level contracts and have had success within the NHL.
Kyle Connor has played 3 seasons with the Jets, totaling to 178 games played and collecting 67 goals (13 game winning goals), 61 assists, 128 points, a -6 rating, only 38 PIMs, and an average of 17:28 on the ice per game. Connor has amazing quickness in his stride and talent with the puck but needs to fill out his 6’1″, 182 lbs frame a bit more. In playoffs, Connor has played 23 games in his career. He has scored 6 playoff goals with 9 assists for 15 points. He averages 18:41 on the ice in that time.
This season was great to Connor, he played in all 82 games with 34 goals and 32 assists, while bumping his minutes up to 19:15 per game. He had a faceoff win percentage of 61.5%, compared to a 28.6% the season prior. His playoff numbers jumped as well in the 6 playoff games the Jets participated in this year, he increased his time on the ice from 17:44 in 2017-2018 to 21:23 in 2018-2019. Connor had 5 points but he had a higher shot percentage from last playoff run, from 8.3% to 21.4%.
As for Patrik Laine, he had a moderate season by his standards. In his 3 seasons in the NHL, Laine has played in 237 NHL games with 110 goals (16 game-winning goals), 74 assists for 184 points, a -9 rating, 92 PIMs, and a career average of 17:11 on the ice per game. Laine is a massive player (6’5″, 206 lbs) with a wicked shot, he could work more on his quickness and physicality. In playoffs, Laine has played 23 games with 8 goals and 8 assists for 16 points with a +4 rating. He averages 17:50 on the ice in playoffs and has a 10.8% shot percentage.
This season was rough on Laine. He only had 50 points (30 goals, 20 assists) in 82 games with a -9 rating while he averaged 17:14 on the ice per game. He had more shots, 245, but a lower shot percentage, 18.3% to 12.2%. In the playoffs, Laine’s production took a dip as well, he played in 6 games with 3 goals and one assist but his shot percentage did double from 8.9% to 16.7%. It was an off year, all players have one but there’s no doubt that Laine will be back up next season.
Both of these players were a key part of the Winnipeg Jets this season and it’s vital that the Jets bring both back. The Jets have been a team in the weird limbo between “good enough to make playoffs” and “not good enough to dominate”.
The Jets have $17,592,503 in Cap Space left so there is well over enough to fit Laine and Connor into the roster. It’s just a matter of if they can get it done before training camp begins.
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