Winnipeg Jets Options and Thoughts For Next Season

Winnipeg Jets changes and possible improvements –

I would like to see the Winnipeg Jets start developing more players on their roster and if that means 4th line deployment so be it.  Roster blocking young players like David Gustafsson, Ville Heinola, Jansen Harkins, and Kristian Vesalainen for aging veterans like Nate Thompson, Trevor Lewis, and Jordie Benn makes no sense. 

Paul Maurice gets criticized for leaning on his aging vets but if Chevy keeps enabling him by signing and/or trading for these types of players Paul Maurice will continue to play them.  So, who is really to blame? 

To be fair I thought Lewis and Thompson did a pretty decent job on the fourth line BUT did they really move the needle enough and were they difference makers?  Hell no.

A fourth line of Gustafsson, Harkins, Vesalainen/Perreault could have probably done the same job while earning valuable experience. 

New vision:  Coaching 

Based on Mark Chipman’s history of loyalty I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the Winnipeg Jets will keep the status quo and Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice will be back next season, but how long is their leash?  I feel both should be on a short leash but probably more so the coach. 

This team is in dire need of a new system.  Paul Maurice needs to implement a system that doesn’t revolve around Connor Hellebuyck facing the most high danger chance in the league and having to make 30 plus saves a every night. 

The system is problematic.  This hybrid man to man system and chasing their check all over the defensive zone looks confusing and it is not working.  Too many players have their backs to the puck while following a man who isn’t a threat.  Maybe this group can’t execute it, whatever, it is not working.

Embed from Getty Images

Paul Maurice’s biggest problem is his infatuation with 35-year-old plugs, he needs to start teaching and trusting the younger players in the organisation.  It was a criminal that Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson were in the AHL and Jansen Harkins was used so sparingly.

Today’s young players are different than young players 20 years ago.  Some of these kids are already playing prominent roles 2-3 years into the league and a lot of them are NHL ready coming right out of junior or college.  Some only need only a half season at the AHL level.  Paul Maurice needs to adapt his thinking on the organisation’s youth.

New vision:  GM

I’m tend to be harder on the GM than I am on the coach but I will concede that Kevin Cheveldayoff might have one of the hardest jobs in the NHL.  Chevy has to contend with no movement clauses, warm weather franchises, and teams that play in States with no State Taxes.  Jets fans were clamoring for him to sign UFA Alex Pietrangelo last summer but was there ever a chance he could have lured Alex Pietrangelo to Winnipeg?  HELL NO.

Of course I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors but Chevy has to be more pro-active and set his sights on trade targets and latch on to him/them like a dog on a bone.  Waiting and hoping for prices to drop around the trade deadline isn’t working.  Overpay if need be, especially if you’re getting the man you want. 

Winnipeg’s fans are smart enough and will understand that’s the price of doing business in this market.  Chevy is a typical Winnipeger, trying to get things wholesale and shopping from the bargain bin.  Enough of the Thompsons, Bitettos, Letestus, and Bourques.

Toronto and Montreal signed older veterans players like Jason Spezza, Cory Perry, and Eric Staal but they were front-line players in their prime not career 4th-liners.  That kind of veteran depth is acceptable and especially at playoff time.

Embed from Getty Images

When it comes to free agency the only way to attract big time free agents is to throw money at them.  It doesn’t cost you assets from your roster, it’s only money.  Yes, this will be tough with a flat cap but so be it.  Figure it out.  If you think a player will move the needle on your roster go get him. 

This might be perceived as a naive notion but the status quo isn’t working.  There isn’t one team that’s ever won a Stanley Cup by just drafting and developing.  D and D is a big part of building a championship team along with trades that improve the team using picks and prospect currency then and augmented with significant UFA signings.  This is a must and Kevin Cheveldayoff has a marginal grade in his trading and and a losing grade in his UFA acquisitions. 

Next season’s roster:

We don’t know who we are protecting and/or losing to Seattle in the expansion draft so let’s just go with what we know now.  Same with trade and UFA targets.  I’ll throw a couple names out there just for conversation.    


  • Connor Hellebuyck 
  • Nikolaj Ehlers
  • Mark Scheifele

Almost untouchable:

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois
  • Ville Heinola
  • Cole Perfetti
  • Dylan Samberg
  • Adam Lowry
  • Kyle Connor … I would be open to shopping him and reinvesting that money. $7,142,857 for 5 more seasons is a lot of money for a one dimensional player that is a defensive liability AND disappears when the games get heavy.  In saying this he is still a very good offensive player and maybe he matures and develops/improves his 200 foot game.  Either way he is still a prime asset.
Embed from Getty Images

UFA targets: 

  • Dougie Hamilton … I’m dreaming but offer him $9,000,000 – $10,000,000.
  • Brandon Montour
  • Mike Reilly
  • Adam Larsson
  • David Savard
  • Jamie Oleksiak

Trade Targets:

  • Seth Jones … with the intention of extending, sign and trade. (I’m not buying into his poor analytics)
  • Josh Manson 
  • Mattais Ekholm … with the intention of extending, sign and trade.   

Lose one to Seattle and/or move and reinvest these dollars:

  • Blake Wheeler … overpaid at $8,250,000 for 3 more seasons but I don’t think he is done yet.   
  • Josh Morrissey … $6,250,000 for 7 more seasons … although I’m fine with bringing him back.
  • Mason Appleton
  • Sami Niku


  • Andrew Copp (26-RFA) … if he he doesn’t price himself out of the market. 
  • Laurent Brossoit (28- UFA) … Michail Berdin isn’t ready yet.
  • Neal Pionk (25-RFA) … no-brainer.

Bring back:

  • Dylan DeMelo … borderline untouchable.
  • Jansen Harkins
  • Logan Stanley … major surprise, made great strides.
  • Kristian Vesalainen 

On the fence:

  • Tucker Poolman (27-UFA) … Wait and see and only resign at depth defenceman money.
  • Paul Stastny (35-UFA) … I might re-sign Stastny but it would need to be at a much reduced number. He would be an excellent mentor for Cole Perfetti.
  • Mathieu Perreault (33-UFA) … I have a lot of time for MP.  Try and re-sign on a two-way contract around $1,000,000 or offer him a position within the org.  I could see him working for TNSE in the future. 

Drop back and kick:

  Thank-you for your service but it is time to play the kids. 

  • Nate Thompson (36-UFA)
  • Trevor Lewis (34-UFA)
  • Jordie Benn (33-UFA)
  • Dominic Toninato (27-UFA) … maybe bring him back on a 2-way deal. (UPDATE: Resigned for 2 years)
  • Derek Forbort (29-UFA)
  • Nathan Beaulieu … one more year left at $1,250,000. Should be a buyout candidate but won’t be.

Final thought:

After the dust settles and we analyze this Winnipeg Jets team there is still a lot to like.  It is far, far from a perfect team but it is definitely fixable. 

Paul Maurice needs to adapt and Kevin Cheveldayoff will need to have the best off-season in his tenure as Winnipeg’s GM because next year in the Central Division will be no picnic.  

Colorado, St. Louis, and Minnesota will probably be in the top 3 with improving teams like Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, and Arizona knocking on the door as well.

Readers thoughts:

Please fire off the names of some trade targets and UFAs you would like to see here.  I listed a couple off the top of my head but there is many more options out there.

Post or reply in the comment section.



  1. Larry Chapman says

    This is the first article of wpghockeytalk that I’ve read and I think I agree with every comment that you made. We’ve been been totally frustrated with Maurice and Chevy since the 2017-18 season. I won’t go into details as you’ve pretty much covered it all. Do you have regular articles on line that I could have access to? Thank you and keep up the good work.

Blog Stats

  • 180,741 hits