This is Part 5 of a series examining how fans feel about the most prominent players on their favourite Canadian NHL teams.
To qualify, a player must be a top-nine forward, top-four defenceman, or top-two goaltender according to the team's CapFriendly depth chart who appeared in at least 10 regular-season games with the club in 2022-23.
The Winnipeg Jets seem to be in a transitionary phase as players crucial to their recent success could be on the way out, but only Pierre-Luc Dubois has been shipped out of town.
Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck are in the last years of their deals, and Winnipeg will have to perform at a high level to justify holding onto that pair and letting them walk for nothing.
That's a possibility as this was a playoff team last season, and the return in the Dubois deal included good players as opposed to futures. Winnipeg has a chance to be good in 2022-23, but an in-season selloff could also be in the works. That makes it an interesting time to evaluate the players on the roster.
Let's get started:
2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 31 G, 49 A, 80 P — 50.49 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 3 G, 1 A, 4 P — 51.19 xGF% (5v5)
Connor is coming off an objectively strong season, but it was a clear step back from his 47-goal campaign in 2021-22. The 26-year-old's power play numbers were virtually identical to those he posted during his career year, but his 5v5 impact wasn't quite as profound.
On the plus side, the winger's 49 assists were a career-high and he showed an aptitude for setting up Scheifele, who became more of a trigger man than usual last season.
— Connor Hrabchak (@ConnorHrabchak1) April 11, 2023
2022-23 regular-season stats: 81 GP, 42 G, 26 A, 68 P — 49.04 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 4 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 P — 48.66 xGF% (5v5)
Scheifele had an odd season that saw him blow away his career-high in goals but post his lowest assist total since he was a 20-year-old in 2013-14.
He also saw his defensive effort questioned, posted lacklustre possession metrics, and even spent some time on the wing. It's impossible to dismiss his goal-scoring efforts, but other aspects of his game were not as strong as they'd been in the past.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 45 GP, 12 G, 26 A, 38 P — 54.94 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P — 36.02 xGF% (5v5)
Ehlers experienced an injury-marred season in 2022-23, but his production was solid on a per-game basis despite an abnormally low shooting percentage (9.1%). His possession metrics were strong as ever, but they were aided by a career-high offensive zone start rate at 5v5 (63.6%).
It's worth noting that the Danish winger set a career low in average ice time (15:39), but that was likely due to caution around his physical status rather than a lack of trust. In the one playoff game he participated in his ice time (21:10) suggested he had his coach's confidence.
2022-23 regular-season stats (w/WPG): 22 GP, 6 G, 7 A, 13 P — 57.00 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 P — 45.25 xGF% (5v5)
Niederreiter fit right in with the Jets after coming over in a midseason trade — posting excellent possession numbers and providing secondary offence for Winnipeg. The 31-year-old also threw his 218-pound frame around with 50 hits in 22 games.
The Swiss winger also logged significant power play time after coming to the Jets, though he projects as more of a second-unit player entering 2023-24.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 51 GP, 8 G, 22 A, 30 P — 50.69 xGF% (5v5)
Perfetti showed significant promise in his first extended look at the NHL level, producing a solid point total despite a low shooting percentage (8.9%) and earning down-ballot Calder Trophy votes.
The 21-year-old's season ended in February due to an upper-body injury, but he was skating again by April and he'll be ready to build on his rookie campaign when 2023-24 starts up.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 13 G, 23 A, 36 P — 55.02 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 P — 52.43 xGF% (5v5)
Lowry set a career-high in points in his ninth season with the Jets in 2022-23, earning Selke Trophy votes for the first time in his career. He also had a noteworthy showing in the playoffs scoring four goals in five games against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The veteran centre took on extremely difficult assignments last season as his defensive zone start rate climbed to 69.7% at even strength. He also led Jets forwards in penalty-killing time by more than 80 minutes and was named captain in the offseason.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 41 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 P — 55.59 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P — 50.63 xGF% (5v5)
Appleton had a relatively quiet season from a point-scoring perspective, but he played an important defensive role.
His possession numbers were solid despite being dealt a defensive zone start rate above 50% for the sixth straight year and his penalty-killing time was second to Lowry among Jets forwards on a per-game basis (2:11).
2022-23 regular-season stats: 78 GP, 16 G, 60 A, 76 P — 50.66 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P — 62.48 xGF% (5v5)
After years of middle-of-the-road offensive production, Morrissey found a new gear in his age-27 season. His breakout campaign earned him fifth in Norris Trophy voting as his 76 points ranked second among blueliners behind only Erik Karlsson.
Along with his strong point total, Morrissey also logged a heavy workload, skating 24:14 per night. The 28-year-old has now earned an ice-time increase in every NHL season since making a one-game cameo in 2015-16.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 75 GP, 6 G, 21 A, 27 P — 52.74 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P — 38.54 xGF% (5v5)
DeMelo's offensive numbers were relatively modest, but they were career-highs across the board as the eight-year veteran scored as many goals as he'd managed in the previous six seasons combined and topped his best assist output by one.
The 30-year-old was critical to the Jets' penalty-killing efforts as he led all Winnipeg players in short-handed ice time per game (2:39).
2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 10 G, 23 A, 33 P — 48.26 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 7 A, 7 P — 48.61 xGF% (5v5)
Pionk produced a below-average point total in 2022-23 by his standards despite scoring double-digit goals for the first time. His possession metrics were also suspect despite relatively neutral usage at even strength.
On the plus side, he racked up assists in the postseason and took on his biggest penalty-killing workload since 2018-19.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 2 G, 21 A, 23 P — 53.22 xGF% (5v5)
2022-23 playoff stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P — 51.30 xGF% (5v5)
Dillon did his job in 2022-23 by keeping his team afloat during tough defensive minutes and leading the squad in total penalty-killing time (210:39).
He managed a career-best in points, but considering it was such a modest number — and he beat his previous top mark by a single point — it's tough to give him too much credit on that count.
2022-23 regular-season stats: 37-25-2 with a 2.49 GAA, .920 SV% and +31.1 GSAA
2022-23 playoff stats: 1-4 with a 3.44 GAA, .886 SV% and -2.9 GSAA
Once again, Hellebuyck showed himself to be one of the NHL's top netminders in 2022-23. His 64 starts led the league and his GSAA ranked fourth.
Without Hellebuyck the Jets would've missed the playoffs, but his work in the postseason was subpar by his lofty standards.