What's behind Jets, Canucks and Flyers surprising rise to contention?
They are three of the most surprising teams in the NHL this season.
When the Winnipeg Jets re-signed Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck this offseason my immediate reaction was that it was going to ultimately lead to more of the season for a franchise that has consistently been one of the league’s most average and forgettable hockey teams. They are typically a middle-of-the-pack team, they have made few consequential moves to dramatically alter the core, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff rarely makes major trades unless his hand his forced, they are not a prime landing spot for free agents, and it was just hard to see how anything would end up being dramatically different.
Well, here we are halfway through the season and I have egg on my face as the Jets have the league’s best record and look like a legitimate contender in a ridiculously tough Western Conference.
Maybe it’s a one-year occurrence.
Maybe in the big picture in future seasons they return to their state mid-ness.
But you can’t take away what is happening this season or how impressive they have looked.
And they are not the only team that has exceeded expectations and made a sudden rise to the top of the league. Just behind them in the West is the Vancouver Canucks, while over in the Eastern Conference the Philadelphia Flyers have turned a clear rebuilding season into a potential playoff berth.
Let’s dig into what’s happening here.