Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little Earning Every Penny of New Contract

Anthony Capocci@CapocciJETSContributor INovember 12, 2013

WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 4: Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his first period goal against the Detroit Red Wings with teammates at the bench at the MTS Centre on November 4, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

This past offseason, the Winnipeg Jets took a huge leap of faith when they signed Bryan Little to a multi-year contract worth $23.5 million. We’re only 19 games into the new contract, but it’s already paying off big time for the Jets.

The Jets aren't off to the best of starts, but Little has been a key bright spot as the Jets try to surge back to .500. The Jets are 8-9-2 on the season but have won their past two games—both in which Little was a major factor.

During the Jets two-game win streak, Little had two goals and two assists including a game-winning goal. Little’s presence on the ice both offensively and defensively has helped propel the Jets to some wins. Now the goal for both Little and the Jets is to sustain consistency going forward.

Little has 10 goals and 17 points on the season, which ranks him first on the Jets in both points and goals. He’s also tied for fourth in the NHL in goals and tied for seventh in points. It’ll be a tough task, but these numbers are sustainable.

Little has already surpassed his goal total from last season when he scored just seven times and is more than half way to his point total of 32. Clearly, the new contract lit a fire in his game. He got the money, and now he’s producing.

But this isn't just your typical Bryan Little producing. He’s showing a “little” something more.

Little is on pace for a career year. In 2008, Little scored 31 goals to go with 51 points. He hasn't come close to that goal total since, but he has reached the 40-point plateau twice. It’s safe to say that Little is in line to surpass his career numbers from 2008.

Individual numbers are numbers; Little is helping the Jets win games as well. Little is the Jets' best statistical forward, but he’s also arguably their best non-statistical forward right now. Meaning, what he does in the other zones doesn't show up on the stat sheet.

Excluding faceoffs, which have been the only inconsistency in his game, Little has been dominant. He’s a workhorse on the forecheck and backcheck. He has good vision and a knack for getting to the open area. Plus, he's a solid net presence.

Little has been nothing short of superb in the early going of 2013.

However, the Jets are struggling to score goals as a team. If they want to keep winning games, Little will have to keep scoring goals and producing for others.

The Jets rely on Little and the rest of their top line to score goals and lead them to victories. Little is averaging close to 20 minutes per game. Expect that number to go up even higher if he keeps playing on this level.

Little turned 26 on Tuesday. The Jets are in action Tuesday night as they head to Detroit to face the Red Wings. What better for a birthday present than a win on your birthday?

OK, maybe a few goals or a few points would be nice, but no doubt the Little’s focus is on winning.