For the last couple of days, and continuing today, I have been and will be looking at each team in the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch. This is the final installment in the series, but please feel free to brows back to see all 29 previous teams.
Chutes: Olli Jokinen – Consistency has been the knock against the big centre throughout his career, and the big reason why he doesn’t stay in any one place very long. Talented but not overly competitive, his career is likely winding down, at least in terms of being a go-to player. His first year in Winnipeg was a disaster (14 points in 45 games) and if his second (and probably final) season as a Jet isn’t a lot more productive, he might have trouble finding NHL employment next summer.
Ladders: Jacob Trouba – The rookie defenseman & 2012 first round pick who left Michigan after his freshman season could be the most NHL ready prospect in the league and should be a factor in the Calder Trophy race. He should step in and play a top 4 role right away, and display an all-around game that will make a positive impact in Winnipeg.