After the way the Winnipeg Jets season ended, nobody expected them to come into this year as world beaters.
They got shocking extensions done with Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck and that allowed them to continue being seen as a good team.
The fact of the matter is that they have been better than a good team. As we stand, they are 8-0-2 in their last ten games. That has propelled them to the very top of the NHL standings.
Winnipeg is idle on Monday but they have two more points than the second-place (overall) teams with 56. The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are tied for second with 54.
The Winnipeg Jets are the top team in the NHL as of right now
It may or may not end like this but they are sure to be in the mix all season long. Nobody should be doubting them at this stage of the game. It is beyond a "small sample size".
Earlier in the season, the Jets lost Kyle Connor to an MCL injury. He is going to be out for a while. The original diagnosis was 6-8 weeks at the time and he may or may not be back in that span.
The Jets lost their best player and a lot of people thought that would hurt them after a terrific start. They lost their first game without him and haven't lost since. It has been a remarkable run.
Who has stepped up in the place of Connor who left with 28 points in 26 games? Well, Mark Scheifele is proving that he is worth his contract. He has 40 points in 39 games.
Winnipeg is very much a team with depth that does it by committee. Scheifele and Connor are great but they aren't in that top tier with guys like Nikita Kucherov, Auston Matthews, Jack Hughes, or Connor McDavid. The Jets win because they get help from everybody.
Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Cole Perfetti, Nino Niederreiter, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Mason Appleton all have over 20 points. Between their veteran forwards, their young stars, and the defensemen, they are getting production from everyone.
The Jets are also being helped by Hellebuyck who is also proving to be worth every penny. He has been one of the best goalies in the league for a long time and he is on another level this year.
Right now, Hellebuyck is 20-6-3 with one shutout, a 2.27 goals against average, and a .921 save percentage. As of right now, he is one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy as the best in the league for the year.
The Jets will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. They are looking to extend what is now a 12-game point streak.
Winnipeg should be proud of their team and everybody should see them as a Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference right now. Are they Canada's best chance at breaking their Stanley Cup drought as a country? They just might be. Watching them the rest of the way will be a treat.