There was one benefit to the Winnipeg Jets missing the playoffs in 2016, and that was the chance to select top-end talent Patrik Laine 2nd overall at the NHL draft.
Laine, the 6’4”, 200 lb right winger, had an outstanding season leading up to the draft. He was named tournament MVP for Finland at the World Championships, where he won a silver medal, and was named playoff MVP in Liiga, Finland’s top men’s professional league after his team, Tappara, won the championship. It was an easy pick for the Jets after Auston Matthews was selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Laine will be a key asset for the Jets who are trying to find their way back into the playoff race after last year’s failed season. The Jets are still looking for their second playoff appearance since returning to Winnipeg.
Fans can get their first look at Laine and other top Jets prospects when the team opens their preseason schedule with three home games at MTS Centre. The first will be held on Tuesday, September 27th when the rival Calgary Flames visit.
The Jets have a busy exhibition schedule after that with two sets of back-to-back games beginning on Thursday, September 29th when the Minnesota Wild visit followed by the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, September 30th.
Missing from these games will be six Jets players who will all be taking part in the World Cup of Hockey from September 17th to October 1st, namely: Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler who will be suiting up for Team USA, Ondrej Pavelec who will play for Team Czech Republic, while Connor Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele and defenceman Jacob Trouba will represent Team North America.
Most of the missing players should be ready to join the team when they travel to Calgary for a rematch against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, October 2nd, followed by a return home to host the Ottawa Senators on Monday, October 3rd.
The Jets’ final two exhibition games will feature rematches against the Edmonton Oilers at the newly unveiled Rogers Place and at the Wild’s Xcel Energy Center.
Here is the full Winnipeg Jet’s Preseason Schedule:
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016: Flames vs. Jets, 7:00 PM
Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016: Wild vs. Jets, 7:00 PM
Friday, Sept. 30, 2016: Oilers vs. Jets, 7:00 PM
Sunday, October 2, 2016: Jets @ Flames, 8:00 PM
Monday, October 3, 2016: Senators vs. Jets, 7:00 PM
Thursday, October 6, 2016: Jets @ Oilers, 8:00 PM
Saturday, October 8, 2016: Jets @ Wild, 7:00 PM