Winnipeg Jets Season Betting Preview: Dark Horse or Donkey?

The Winnipeg Jets had a new head coach in Rick Bowness last season, and he got them back into the playoffs, which was a win. But things took a turn for the worse after a win in Game 1. Some of their star players got injured early in the series, and they ended up losing four games straight to the Vegas Golden Knights, getting the early boot from the playoffs.

In response to the disappointment, the Jets decided to buy out the final year of Blake Wheeler’s contract and traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings. This made the team a bit younger and added an element of uncertainty, especially with newcomers like Gabriel Vilardi and Alex Iafallo.

One thing that’s crystal clear, though, is that Connor Hellebuyck is an absolute beast in the goalie position. He’s consistently propelled the Jets into the playoffs, playing a pivotal role in their success over the past six seasons. But even with a top-notch goalie, a team can still fall short.

2023/24 Season Forecast

Each year, I run extensive simulations, checking out tens of thousands of scenarios to predict how many points each of the 32 NHL teams will rack up. These simulations take into account a bunch of factors like team strength, their schedules, and past trends. This whole process helps me gauge how probable it is for each team to achieve specific milestones.

Take a peek at the graphic down below. It lays out a range of potential outcomes, giving you a sense of what we can expect from the Winnipeg Jets in the upcoming season. It breaks down their chances of snagging the Central Division crown, locking in a playoff spot, and maybe even making a serious run at the Stanley Cup.

There are other forecasts out there that paint the Jets in a better light, but I don’t think my projection is too harsh, or anything like that. 

The Jets finished with 95 points in 2022-23, and they might be worse off, at least in the short term, with Wheeler and Dubois subtracted from the lineup. On the other hand, the shakeup might provide the team with a better work ethic and more chemistry overall. Winnipeg played better on defence as the season went on, ranking among the top-10 on defence from the middle of December until the end of the season, so maybe that can be a hallmark of their game going forward. 

Sniper Kyle Connor is a gem. Maybe he’s not the top guy, but he can be a top guy. And defenceman Josh Morrissey is a stud, too. But Mark Scheifele has never struck me as a good leader, on or off the ice, and their most efficient scorer, Nikolaj Ehlers, can’t stay healthy, which might be why the coach only plays him 15 minutes a game. Ehlers missed 57 games over the last two seasons.

Winnipeg did a great job generating offence last season, but it was the second season in a row that the Jets underperformed Evolving Hockey’s expected goals model as a team. Either they’re unlucky, or something is missing. The projection model seems to think it’s the latter, but maybe Vilardi’s two-way game will be a game changer.

The primary challenge for the Jets will likely be their overall mediocrity. Then again, it’s not a bad thing when you’re talking about the bottom-six, so it might also turn out to be an advantage. Their top-six players might not consistently dominate games, but the third and fourth lines are dependable, which could pose difficulties for their opponents if Hellebuyck is as good as he was last season.

To Win Stanley Cup+5000
To Win Western Conference+2500
To Win Central Division+1000
To Make The PlayoffsYes (-125) / No (EVEN)
Season Point Total91.5 = Over (-115) / Under (-115)
Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction Ontario.

To Win The Central Division (+1000)

When there are teams like Chicago, St. Louis, Arizona, and Nashville in a division, it’s natural that fans would look at the Jets as a dark horse to win the Central Division, but 90% of the time, the Dallas Stars or Colorado Avalanche will finish in first and the Stars are the only team that grades out as a ‘good’ bet to do so.

The sportsbook’s odds suggest the Jets will win the division about 9% of the time, even if that’s true, does anybody really think their chances are better than that? For example, The Athletic‘s Dom Luszczyszyn, another well known forecaster, has the Jets finishing with 96 points and he gives them a 9% winning the Central Division.

So, even if you think my projection is off, and the Jets are closer to a 95- or a 96-point team, at least trust me when I say: Winnipeg is not a good bet to win the Central Division.

To Make The Playoffs (-125)

Based on the odds, the betting market has Winnipeg’s chances of qualifying for the playoffs slightly above 50-50, which means that the Jets are a decent bet to miss the playoffs at even money based on the projection model. But, of all the divisions, the Central seems like the one that’s sort of locked up. 

My gut tells me the Jets will find themselves sniffing around the third or fourth spot in the division come the end of the season. So, finding a bet at even money (the Jets are +100 to miss the playoffs) that should be closer to -130 would excite me in the regular season, but not so much when I have to tie up a portion of my bankroll all season long.

Rick Bowness To Win Jack Adams Award (+1600)

As mentioned, the Central Division isn’t exactly the NHL’s powerhouse, especially with teams like Chicago, Arizona, and St. Louis not exactly setting the league on fire. That’s why the Jets have a decent shot of landing somewhere in the top four within this division.

Personally, I’m not exactly on the Bowness bandwagon, but the guy’s got his share of fans around the league. If you rewind to his stint with Dallas during the COVID-19 bubble, you’d hear former players like Kevin Bieska and Andrew Raycroft singing his praises, saying he did wonders for their careers.

But here’s the deal with NHL awards, especially the Jack Adams – it’s often all about the story. So, if you believe the Jets can not only clinch a playoff spot but maybe even muscle past the Wild and finish in the top three in the division, which isn’t outlandish if Hellebuyck is in top form, then a bet on Bowness for the Jack Adams might just be worth a shot. Use our sports betting calculator to find out how much a winning bet would pay out.

Rick Bowness To Win Jack Adams Award


Bowness is turning 69 in January, and this season might be his last hurrah, regardless of how things pan out. If he manages to steer the Jets into the playoffs, especially in a season where plenty are doubting them, he’s bound to get some attention.

The only thing giving me pause on this bet is the history of NHL broadcasters favouring coaches who’ve led their teams to significant point improvements from one season to the next. I mean, nine out of the last 10 winners fit that bill, with the lone exception being Gerard Gallant with the Vegas Golden Knights in their very first season. So, if Bowness needs to pull off a 100-plus point season to catch their eye, maybe those 16-1 odds aren’t all that enticing.

Expect to see more season betting previews here at Canada Sports Betting in the coming days as we continue our countdown of the seven Canadian teams and examine the NHL futures market to find value bets to consider.