As we move through the Christmastime break in NHL action, it’s noteworthy to recognize the turnaround that the Winnipeg Jets have been able to accomplish through 34 games this season. With erstwhile new head coach (and former Jets’ player and coach) Rick Bowness, the Jets seemed to have taken off on a new successful course so far in the 2022-23 campaign.
Currently sitting on a 21-12-1 record, the Jets are solidly sitting in second place in the tough Central Division. The Jets and the Dallas Stars seem to trade places every few days in the standings and with continual solid play from the Jets’ usual cast of characters, it’s more than likely that Winnipeg will find themselves in the Stanley Cup playoffs once the spring thaw heads north into the Manitoba prairie. In all honesty, last season was a disappointment for the Jets as they finished up with a 39-32-11 record which garnered them nothing but sixth place in the Central Division and out of the postseason. The fortuitous hiring of Rick Bowness and his return to his Winnipeg connections has so far been a positive for this franchise. Despite illnesses from Covid-19, Bowness has by and large led the Jets to a turnaround season and as the Christmas break unfolds, Winnipeg appears to be on track to a strong, winning season.
Production from the Jets’ top liners including Josh Morrisey, Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler has been consistently providing exactly what the Jets need to keep on the winning track. Josh Morrisey leads the team with six goals and 33 assists while Kyle Conner has had a hot stick with 15 goals and 23 assists to add to the cause. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is stating his cause to earn the Vezina Trophy this season with a 16-8-0 record and a 2.36 goals-against average and a stellar .928 save percentage which places him fifth currently among NHL netminders.
Cole Perfetti is making a permanent home for himself in Winnipeg.
One of the great surprise stories for the Winnipeg Jets this season really isn’t much of a surprise if you follow the story lines of top NHL rookies on a regular basis. Center/left winger Cole Perfetti is adding a little bit of “Per”fection to the Jets’ offense this season and making a name for himself in the process as one of the top rookies in the NHL. With six goals and 14 assists so far this season, Perfetti’s name is mentioned in the same sentence as other rookie sensations as Seattle’s Matty Beniers. Originally a first round draft pick (10th overall) in the 2020 NHL draft, Cole Perfetti has worked his way up from Saginaw in the OHL to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL all the way to the big club with the Winnipeg Jets.
While with Saginaw of the OHL, Perfetti lit up the scoreboards while scoring 37 goals and 37 assists in the 2018-19 season and an even more impressive 37 goals and 74 assists in 2019-20. The Covid-19 pandemic destroyed Perfetti’s season in 2020-21 with the OHL but like many major junior players Perfetti found refuge by moving to the AHL and playing for the Manitoba Moose (and of course the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.) While with Manitoba in 2020-21, Perfetti made a smooth transition to professional hockey and scored nine goals and 17 assists in 32 games.
Perfetti split last season with both Manitoba and some time with the Jets and this season marks his true NHL rookie season. For the Jets, Perfetti already seems like a bargain with his entry-level contract for three years sitting at $4.975 million dollars. For the Jets, Perfetti looks to be a top liner for the conceivable future and a potential Calder Memorial Trophy candidate this season. As Perfetti’s career unfolds, he will no doubt be a part of the future of this franchise as he adds a bit of “Per”fection to the fans in Winnipeg.