“Young Guns” was a very passable movie in 1988 about a motley crew of gunslingers looking to make their presence felt. The titular figure was Emilio Estevez as Billy “the Kid”. Emilio went on to play the coach of another precarious group of underachievers in “Mighty Ducks”. The common theme throughout – youthful exuberance. There were many myths as to why Emilio Estevez burned too bright and too fast. Uniformed opinions I would bet. Well, the Jets have a few “Emilios”. As such, let’s try to get ahead of the narrative, and dispel some rumors.
1) Vinne Heinola is not good at “defense”:
Like most everything, this is somewhat of a subjective evaluation, as there are various types of defensemen. To keep it simple, I’ll break the down the role into 3 categories: i) “Offensive” Defenseman, ii) “Defensive” Defenseman; and iii) Nate Beaulieu (which is a subcategory of being bad at all aspects of the job).
I would posit that Heinola falls into the first category. The average “Expected Goals Against Percentage” with Heinola on the ice in the last 4 games is 0.30.
What does this mean? It means that when he is on the ice, the Jets have to defend far less often. Why? Heinola is silky smooth in transition, and exists the defensive zone with ease. This is how modern defense is played. Play defense by not being in your defensive end.
Heinola’s micro-stats are the best of any Jet defenseman over the past few games. In short (or micro), Heinola’s possession metrics are very good. He is a rookie (ostensibly) and he is already statistically elite.
Detractors will point to the fact that he is small, and he has been guilty of some bad giveaways and lost puck battles. I call this the “Toby Enstrom Corollary”. Toby Enstrom was an extremely skilled defenseman, but he didn’t look, and carry himself like Jack Reacher, so most Jets fans disliked him. He was unorthodox (he had a gigantic stick for a little guy – much like Milton Berle), and he wasn’t physical, but he was effective. This, in a nutshell, is Heinola (although their games are different).
2) Cole Perfetti is “bringing down” Connor and Dubois.
In a word: Horseshit.
The Connor-Dubois-Perfetti line has an Expected Goals percentage of 54.9%. The vaulted Connor-Dubois-Svechnikov line operated at 56.4%. Both are really good numbers, but not appreciably different.
In my last article I discussed biases. Let me disclose a bias of mine – I love Cole Perfetti at uncomfortable levels. He is a very smart hockey player, and has a sneaky good defensive presence. He’s not big, and he’s not particularity fast, but he does have a very particular set of skills; skills that can be a nightmare for opponents (yes, that is a “Taken” rip-off).
Perfitti is a work in progress but has Laine “vibes”. Truly unique talents in the NHL are rare. Laine is the best scorer I’ve ever seen in person and the best dresser I’ve ever seen on Instagram. Perfetti has vision and playmaking of the likes unparalleled in a Jets uniform. Imagine an Adam Oates protégé that kinda looks like Jeremy Renner.
Perfetti can be an All-Star if given the opportunity to do so.
This takes us to what the Jets should do for the remainder of the 2022 season. After a loss to the Blackhawks, we are very close to mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Let’s give the “Emilos” some operating space. The young guns have a full barrel, let’s let them empty the chamber.