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ANALYSIS: Jets face big challenges in tough division

And so it begins: another season for the Winnipeg Jets. And their biggest challenges are the same ones that ended the last season.

Primarily, can they learn to play as a team? That has been the biggest topic on the tongues of everyone in this city, and inside the organization.

Secondarily, how do they do it in the league’s toughest division? And you know it’s the toughest, because every team in this division has been forced to make some level of change in order to compete for the Stanley Cup, with the champions, Colorado, atop this division.

And do it in a flat cap world.

The Avalanche have done surgery, after losing Nazem Kadri and making financial adjustments to keep Nathan MacKinnon. A new starting goalie in Alexandar Georgiev, and the game’s top defenceman in Cale Makar, make this team the best in the division.

St. Louis is trying to get younger and faster, with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou now ordained as the faces of the franchise for the next eight seasons.

Nashville were the beneficiaries of Tampa Bay’s cap issues by getting Ryan McDonagh this summer, added to a defence that is always, always so good.

Read more: Losing captaincy should motivate, refocus Jets’ Wheeler

Dallas, fresh in Rick Bowness’ memory banks, look to Pete DeBoer to improve their position and appears to be in a win-now mode, based on that latest trade with the Rangers, and giving up a first-round pick.

The Wild, now under the full influence of having to pay for Ryan Suter’s and Zach Parise’s buyouts, are holding their breaths that their young players, on entry-level deals, can help Kirill Kaprizov stay relevant, with Marc-Andre Fleury trying to squeeze one more season out in goal.

Chicago, are a shadow of its former self right now, with the only real story being whether Patrick Kane will wear the Hawk sweater or not.

And Arizona, perhaps pointed in the right direction under Bill Armstrong, is still a bit of a burial ground of where hockey contracts go to die. They will play in a building more suitable for the Western Hockey League, not the National Hockey League.

And then, there’s the Jets. Management has chosen to give this group of players one last chance, and one final question: Is that decision born out of patience or stubbornness? The answer is simple — If you win, it’s patience. If you lose, it’s stubbornness.

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