Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: June 26

Mitch Kasprick is now the “Westdale Curmudgeon” 

Odds and Ends, Thoughts, and Questions from this past week in Hockey –

Just so there’s no confusion when I’m spewing my bias, I am a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Ice, and all Team Canada Hockey teams.

I am NOT a fan of Gary Bettman or as I call him, Count Chocula.  I am a big believer in the 7Ps or is it the 8Ps?  You’ve been warned.

June 26:  2023 NHL Awards

June 28:  Round 1 of the 2023 NHL Draft (7 p.m. ET)

June 29:  Rounds 2-7 of the 2023 NHL Draft (11 a.m. ET)

July 1:  NHL “Free Agent Frenzy” (noon ET)

You can listen to a more in-depth audio version here >>> Audio Version Podcast is now live

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1. Jets:  It’s been three weeks since our last podcast and as I suspected I didn’t miss a thing.  I have to give props to the podcasts that keep plugging away every day but I’m not a big fan of speculation and “what ifs”.  Now in saying that as we get closer to the draft this Wednesday the rumours surrounding the Jets are ramping up and coming from credible sources and not Johnny Shitstain blogging from his basement.  If you don’t hear it from guys like Pierre LeBrun, Jeff Marek, Elliotte Friedman, Darren Dreger,  David Pagnotta or Frank Seravalli, etc it is basically blogger click-bait.

2. NHL:  FYI, the NHL’s 2023 buyout window is open from June 16-30.  It looks like a Blake Wheeler buyout or trade is going to happen.

From Elliotte Friedman (June 23) 

With Wheeler, I understand that everyone is kinda on the same page with this. He understands that he’s either getting traded or he’s bought out and I think they’re just working together like ‘what’s the best solution?.  I think both sides realize it’s time to move on and I think they’re working together to find the best way to do it.  It’s going to be one or it’s going to be the other.”

From Elliotte Friedman (June 23)

Expects this will be Wheeler’s last week as part of organization – wouldn’t be surprised to see Dubois get dealt at Draft – speculates Scheifele & Boston but says it’s been quiet

3. Jets:  Pierre-Luc Dubois’s agent Pat Brisson is interested in working with the Jets organization to find him a new home.  This could be a win-win situation for Dubois/Brisson and the Winnipeg Jets.  It could help them gain leverage in having more teams interested in PLD IF he were interested in going to rumoured teams like LA, NYR, BOS as well as the HABS.  The more teams involved could raise the AAV for PLD as well as the return for the Jets.

From Pierre LeBrun

The Los Angeles Kings are one of multiple teams to join the Montreal Canadiens in the hunt for Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.  Dubois’ agent Pat Brisson and the Jets believe there will be a “robust market” for the restricted free agent’s services.

From Elliotte Friedman (June 23) 

First of all for Winnipeg I think with Dubois the next few days he’s going to narrow it down to like two or three teams.  I mean we’re really going to get into this I think. Winnipeg’s gotta know by the Draft and I think he recognizes that.

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4. Jets:  Could the New Jersey Devils be a match with the Winnipeg Jets in a Connor Hellebuyck trade?  Maybe but money could be an issue.

 From Pierre LeBrun  

The New Jersey Devils are one of the teams that we understand that Connor Hellebuyck would be interested in signing an extension with in a sign-and trade.  Now, they’re not the only team of course.  And listen, New Jersey has investigated it.  They’ve had a conversation with Winnipeg. 

Hellebuyck would want an extension.  We believe that to be in the Andrei Vasilevskiy range: $9.5 million a year.  And you know, we get why he is asking for it.  Perhaps he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist, but I think for the Devils, does that work in their cap?  So I think that price would have to come down, I think, for New Jersey to get more involved in this.

5. Jets:  For those of you that know me you’ll know I’m not a fan of Mark Hillier’s work as Chevy’s #1 amateur scout.  The Jets have done a nice job of identifying good players in the first round but a draft and developing team that can’t attract free agents has to be better than the other teams in the later rounds, like getting Connor Hellebuyck in the 5th round and Adam Lowry in the 3rd round.  The Hockey News showed drafting (from the 3rd round on) by 30 NHL teams over a number of years showing the number of picks & how many have played 100+ games in the NHL.  The Winnipeg Jets ranked 28th out of 30 teams.  That is pretty underwhelming, isn’t it?

6. Jets:  I still have this gut feeling that Mark Scheifele will be Winnipeg Jet when training camp opens in September.  Now, I’m not saying he won’t be traded at some point this off-season or by the 2024 trade deadline BUT I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs a long-term extension either.  Number 1 centers, even if they’re flawed don’t grow on trees.

7. Jets:  This seems to be gaining some traction.

8. NHL:  Gary Bettman told Sportsnet’s, Elliotte Friedman teams will not wear specialty jerseys in warmups next season. 

From Gary Bettman (June 22)

I’ve suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warmups because it’s become a distraction and taking away from the fact that all of our clubs in some form or another host nights in honour of various groups or causes, and we rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.

9. Jets:  There has been lots of talk about the Winnipeg Jets buying out the final year of Blake Wheeler’s contract.  I’m not sure whether they will or not, I’d say it’s 50/50 between a buyout or a trade where the Jets retain part of his salary.  Right now, Wheeler’s cap hit for next year would be $8,250,000 and with the buyout being 2/3 of his remaining salary.  The team would save $2,750,000 BUT they will have a cap penalty of $2,750,000 for the next 2 seasons.  Stay with me now because tossing these numbers around can get confusing at times.

  • It would cost the Jets a one-time cash outlay of $5,500,000 to be free of Wheeler’s contract and a saving of $2,750,000 overall.  Wheeler now becomes a UFA.
  • The Jets have now gained $5,500,000 in cap space including the $2,750,000 buyout penalty for the 2023-24 season.
  • The Jets would also incur the same $2,750,000 cap penalty for the 2024-25 season and then it is over.
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10. Jets:  Odds and ends: 

  • It is going to be a busy week with the draft happening on Wednesday and Thursday and the free agency on Saturday.
  • Logan Stanley’s name has been mentioned much lately in trade rumours.
  • I love how Jets fans are so readily willing to spend Mark Chipman’s and David Thomson’s money.  I mean it’s only 5.5 million.
  • In an ideal world, the Jets brass would love to have their roster moves done this week so they know how much cap space they have going into free agency and which holes they need to fill.
  • Brayden Yager from the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors is a player I have my eye on at #18 for the Jets on Wednesday night at the NHL Entry Draft in Nashville.


You can listen to a more in-depth audio version here >>> Audio Version Podcast is now live

PRO TIP:  Listen to the audio version as you’re reading.  Much more in-depth.

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