Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was one of the few.
The former owner, general manager and coach of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings said he watched Winnipeg play 20 times last season, giving him a peek at what was to come.
”It was pretty easy to see that it was going to happen,” McCrimmon said. ”This year, certainly it has.”
The Jets earned 114 points during the regular season, trailing only Nashville.nfl nike authentic jerseys
Winnipeg advanced in the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets lost only once to Minnesota in the first round, and eliminated the top-seeded Predators on the road in Game 7 of the second round.
Unlike other NHL teams, which fire general managers and coaches if they don’t quickly have success, the Jets have allowed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to build a championship contender since hiring him in 2011 when they left Atlanta. He was just 20 games above .500 in his first five seasons as Winnipeg’s GM, and its only previous postseason appearance in 2015 lasted just four games against Anaheim.
Coach Paul Maurice, likewise, was afforded the opportunity to lead the team for fourth-plus season this year. He made the most of it by helping the Jets go 52-20-10 during the regular season.
But ultimately, it comes down to having talented, unselfish players, and the Jets have plenty.
When Winnipeg had high draft picks, as it often did as a struggling team, it didn’t miss.
Patrik Laine, a 20-year-old winger, was drafted second overall two years ago and is one of the league’s best young players. He had 70 points in the regular season and scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 1.
Mark Scheifele, selected No. 7 overall in 2011, leads all postseason scorers with 12 goals and has averaged more than a point per game the past two seasons. On the back end, defenseman Jacob Trouba has been exceptional in the playoffs as the franchise hoped he would be eventually after taking him No. 9 overall in 2012.
The Jets have also hit on some late-round picks, including Hellebuyck, whom they took No. 130 overall six years ago.authentic nfl football jerseys
”Hit home run after home run in the draft,” captain Blake Wheeler said . ”A lot of our marquee players are guys we drafted and have taken huge steps in the last year or two to be impact players.”
Winnipeg didn’t draft its best player, Wheeler, but the franchise acquired him from Boston in a trade while it was in Atlanta in 2011 and has built around him. That same year, the Thrashers took advantage of Chicago’s need to get rid of salaries by dealing for Byfuglien.