Jets preview: Rankings, predictions, playoff chances and more

Connor Hellebuyck and Patrik Laine are critical components of the Jets' Cup chances in the coming years. Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios and more.

After a trip to the Western Conference finals last season, the Winnipeg Jets enter 2018-19 as one of the top favorites for the Stanley Cup.

How they finished in 2017-18: 52-20-10 (114 points), Finished second in NHL, second in Central Division

It was a spectacular coming-out party for this team, largely filled with homegrown talent realizing its potential. Defense was solid, Mark Scheifele had a star turn in the playoffs, Patrik Laine chased down Alex Ovechkin for the Rocket Richard Trophy, and this franchise finally found a goaltender it could trust in Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets bowed out to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference finals.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook): 106.5

Best-case scenario: Hellebuyck builds on last season's success and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff finds another Paul Stastny trade at the deadline.

Worst-case scenario: After losing out on Stastny, the Jets spent the summer taking care of their own. But Winnipeg was so much better when Stastny joined as the No. 2 center, and there's no in-house candidate who can come close to his production. Winnipeg is forced to be a big buyer at the trade deadline yet again.

Forward overview: The top line, anchored by Scheifele, with Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler on the wings, is a tour de force -- and it's almost unfair Laine is on the second line. Speedy Nikolaj Ehlers is a nice complement, but the duo played much better when they got Stastny (he's replaced by Bryan Little). There's some depth concern, especially at center. NHL rank: 4th

Defense overview: Big Dustin Byfuglien is still terrorizing opponents, and he has a few good sidekicks in Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey and Tyler Myers. Morrissey only signed a bridge deal, while Myers (UFA) and Trouba (RFA) need new deals next summer, so let's enjoy this talented unit while we can. NHL rank: 3rd

Goalie overview: It's comical looking back on last summer when the Jets felt they needed to spend big money on Steve Mason as insurance. The 24-year-old Helleybuck was ready to lead, putting up Vezina-esque numbers (44 wins, .924 save percentage, 2.36 GAA) in winning the job for good. Mason has since been traded and bought out by the Canadiens. Free agent Laurent Brossoit is the likely backup. NHL rank: 8th

Special teams: It wasn't only the Laine show (20 PPG), but the Jets power play was scary good -- thanks in large part to the Finnish sniper -- ranking fifth in the NHL (23.4 percent). The penalty kill also finished top 10 (ninth) at 81.2 percent.

Pipeline overview: The Jets have been one of the best-drafting teams in the NHL since the move to Winnipeg. They have lost a lot of their top-end talent to immediate NHL graduation, but there is still a lot of intrigue in the prospect pool starting with 2017 first-rounder Kristian Vesalainen. The team has been solid in developing talent in the AHL, with Mason Appleton and Sami Niku among the biggest standouts who could make the NHL jump sooner than later. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: Aside from the not insignificant loss of trade-deadline pickup Paul Stastny, the 2018-19 Jets generally resemble the version that reached the most recent Western Conference finals. That means another season of Kyle Connor skating on a Winnipeg top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, only this time, we'll come to anticipate a 30-goal/60-point campaign from the 21-year-old second-year player. If anything, with a full NHL season under his suspenders, an increase in minutes, shots and power-play production should be in the offing. Read more -- Victoria Matiash

Coach on the hot seat? Paul Maurice -- as well as GM Cheveldayoff -- signed a multiyear extension last September. The team is vague about the actual terms, but after last season, both men earned a ton of good will.

Bold prediction: The Jets fear Trouba doesn't want to be in Winnipeg long term and try to recoup some value in the talented defenseman by trading him before the deadline.