Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has locked up his team’s core and he has received a fair bit of flack for it – at least from media members outside of Winnipeg. In the minds of many, these core players – especially the top line players, Little and Wheeler - are not good enough and really shouldn’t be a top line. Perhaps there is something to that, there is no doubt that the team would be better if there was more top end talent, but the fact remains Ladd, Little and Wheeler are not the problem in Winnipeg.
There are first lines that are better offensively. There are first lines that have more star power, but guess what Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler are better than some of them and manage to beat them head to head.
The advanced stats people will hate me for this... but is there a quick +/- comparison available for the 15 #1 lines?
Also, did Wheeler play on another line for a while last season? I see Ladd with +10, Little with +8, and Wheeler with -3
Conventional +/- sucks, but if you wanna compare it, NHL.com would be the place to look.
Wheeler did play on another line for a while last year. He played with Kane and Olli. They were all deep into the minus at that point. That is part of the reason I used Ladd's numbers for the head to head matchups.
The problem has not been the "top end" of the line-up. It's everyone else functioning as oxygen bandits. And goaltending.
That's exactly it, and we Jets fans know that. The problem and stigma is with the fans and media around the league who continue to spout off that the Jets don't have a top line, or players worthy enough of getting the job done. In truth, they do, and all of the proof is here if they would bother to look and educate themselves. Surprisingly enough, the game isn't as simple as watching on tv or simply looking at the standings and drawing conclusions. What I mean by that is the Jets may lose to an opposing team, have Ladd - Little - Wheeler play well but the supporting cast and goaltending not, and fans will still come to the conclusion that the Jets just aren't good enough because they don't have a top line. If those fans would dig into the meat and potatoes of the Jets, they would see otherwise. This article proves that. The trio of Ladd - Little - Wheeler get a bad rap continuously and are always in question in terms of "are they good enough?". If people would get their heads out of the sand they'd find what is actually the case with the Jets and what is preventing them from succeeding, and it isn't Ladd - Little - Wheeler as a top line. What is lacking and lagging the team down, as you say, is the depth and supporting cast (and goaltending) around these highly depended upon players.
For those who continuously say "Winnipeg doesn't have a top line", or, "Why sign players that aren't good enough in Ladd, Little and Wheeler?", this article shines a light brilliantly on that proving those (uneducated) fans/people wrong. Winnipeg does have a top line, and that line is indeed effective. Which also stands to reason that (in my opinion, of course) Cheveldayoff was and is correct given what we know today, in re-signing these players to the contracts he did. The proof is in the pudding, for those that bother to look.