The 2023-24 NHL season is rapidly approaching its conclusion. While teams like the Montreal Canadiens are simply finishing out the year, others, like the Vegas Golden Knights, are fighting for spots in the 2024 NHL Playoffs. However, the Winnipeg Jets are not one of them. Winnipeg has already clinched their berth in the tournament and will compete for the Stanley Cup this spring.

That being said, the Jets aren't simply phoning it in. In fact, Winnipeg is on a five-game winning streak. It's certainly a promising sign for fans of the team following a rough patch after the NHL Trade Deadline. And it gives them a ton of momentum heading into the NHL Playoffs.

However, their late-season surge could inadvertently cause a postseason nightmare. Especially if other teams around them stumble a bit in their final few games of the regular season. With this in mind, let's take a look at the nightmare seeding scenario and matchup for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL Playoffs.

Jets could still win Central Division

Winnipeg Jets celebrate their victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Canada Life Centre.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

As things stand now, the Winnipeg Jets can still win the Central Division. It's certainly a long shot, but it isn't impossible. Winnipeg can max out at 110 points this year. The team ahead of them, the Dallas Stars, can max out at 113. However, if they were to lose their remaining two games of the season, they would have just 109.

The Jets are in second place in the Central Division. If the season ended today, they would take on the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. However, the match changes if they were to win the division. Under the current playoff format, division winners take on one of the two wild card teams in the first round.

Whoever wins the Central Division is likely to hold the top seed in the Western Conference. As a result, they would play the second wild-card team in the West. This year, that may be a rather daunting matchup. And for Winnipeg, it could be a matchup they have failed to overcome in previous years.

Winnipeg may face ghost of NHL Playoffs past

The race for the wild card spots in the Western Conference is not over quite yet. The Nashville Predators have clinched a berth in the NHL Playoffs. However, the second wild card is still open, with the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues battling for the final spot.

As of now, the Golden Knights have the inside track to claim the second wild card. In the event they do, the Jets winning the division would instantly become a nightmare. Winnipeg would be thrown into the den with the defending Stanley Cup champions who loaded up at the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Golden Knights added Anthony Mantha, Noah Hanifin, and Tomas Hertl through trade. Hertl is healthy, and Hanifin has been a fantastic addition to the Sin City. They were already extremely talented, with Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore, and Jonathan Marchessault leading the way.

There's also a possibility that Vegas gets their captain back, as well. Mark Stone was ruled out for the regular season with a lacerated spleen. Questions about his status for the NHL Playoffs were asked around the NHL Trade Deadline. However, Stone returned to practice recently, so he could return sometime soon.

The Jets know all too well how dangerous Vegas can be in the playoffs. In fact, Winnipeg faced them in the first round just last year. They won the first game before losing the next four and going home after five games. Furthermore, the Jets faced the Golden Knights in the 2018 Western Conference Final, also in a losing effort.

If the Jets want to go on a deep run, they may need to exercise playoff demons early on. It's a long shot that this matchup happens in the first round, to be fair. Still, if Winnipeg wins the Central Division, it could lead to a nightmare matchup with the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights in round one.