A Big Off-Season For The Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets and Chevy’s off-season checklist –  

The Winnipeg Jets brass is going to be very busy this summer making decisions on how their team will look next season and more importantly the season after.

To do list:

1.  Chevy and company need to start looking forward and come up with a game plan in regards to the status of captain Andrew Ladd and rover Dustin Byfuglien. Both players will become free agents on July 1, 2016.  The team can start negotiating extensions on one or both starting this summer on July 1.

Kevin Cheveldayoff’s toughest decision.

You may ask why the rush then?  With all due respect to Michael Frolik, Lee Stempniak, Juri Tlusty and Drew Stafford the Jets haven’t had players of Ladd’s or Buff’s caliber hit the UFA market.  Both players are going to be looking to cash-in on one more big payday.  They will command or demand both term and dollars and at their ages TNSE now must determine if they are a good fit going forward. Both players are in their prime now and the question is how long can they play at a top-level.  There is nothing worse that paying big-bucks to players on long-term contracts as their play is in decline.  So the Jets either commit or move either ASAP while the trade value is still there.  Every day that passes leading into next years trade deadline diminishes the Jets potential return in any deal.

Bye-Bye Fro?

2.  Even though I mentioned the Ladd and Byfuglien situation the Jets have seven UFA’s and five RFA’s to deal with before the July 1 free agent deadline.  I believe Michael Frolik will test the free agent market and the only reason I come to this conclusion is that his camp has had since January 1st to negotiate an extension.  I think Frolik’s agent, Alan Walsh is really squeezing Kevin Cheveldayoff and Chevy’s not going to cave in to what I might guess are unrealistic terms.  So it’s probably bye-bye to Fro.

I can see the Jets offering and/or trying to re-sign forwards Drew Stafford and Lee Stempniak to contract extensions.  The only way that Juri Tlusty gets a contract offer is if the Jets are unable to re-sign two of Stafford, Stempniak or Frolik.  Staying with the forwards I’d be shocked if the Jets offered Jim Slater or Matt Halischuk contracts.  The team needs to leave room for a couple of prospects on ELC’s to take the next step.  I believe that this fall players like Nic Petan, Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp will be given every opportunity to crack the roster as well as longer-shots Joel Armia and Scott Kosmachuk.

Chiarot is a no-brainer.

3.  What do the Jets do with Clitsome and Harrison who both have one year left in their current contracts?  Then Chevy has to make a decision on UFA,  Adam Pardy who was a very cost-effective spare part when needed.  RFA’s Paul Postma, Ben Chiarot and Keaton Ellerby will need to be addressed also.

Ben Chiarot is a no-brainer as an RFA.  Lock him up.  I also like Paul Postma but his status could be tied into whatever decision Chevy makes concerning Byfuglien.  Flip a coin on Keaton Ellerby.  He might be offered a 2-way deal and play in the AHL.  Josh Morrissey should be pushing for a roster spot this fall as well.

I’m already on record as saying that in the next couple of years I would be looking to move Toby Enstrom and his 5.75 million per year to free up dollars for pending UFA and RFA’s.  Toby falls into the same category as Buff for me but I would keep Buff over Toby any day of the week.

January 12, 2014-Chevy-14

Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is going to have a busy summer!

Oh ya Burmi.

4.  Make a decision on Alexander Burmistrov.  It is pretty well fait accompli that Burmi will return to the NHL.  The question is whether he is welcomed back in Winnipeg or is he trade bait at the draft.  Not knowing how he’d be received in the dressing room all I can say is that in my opinion he has better value as a Jets player versus trade bait BUT only if he’s not a problem in the room.

To Pav or not to Pav?

5.  Goaltending is always a hot topic in this town and although Ondrej Pacelec played unbelievable down the stretch he was just okay in the playoffs and just okay doesn’t cut it for me.  He still has too many holes in his game and maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.  I’m not sure if his value will ever be higher than it is now, so it might be time to try to move him and his 3.9 million for the two seasons to the Eastern Conference (hello Buffalo).  Hutch and Helle next year!

Not so special teams.

6.  The special teams were barely acceptable this season and it’s time for a fresh vision for the special teams.  I don’t know who was responsible for the PK and/or the PP but the coaches either need to be re-shuffled or let go.  The Jets were one of the best even strength teams in the NHL but their special teams dragged them down again and again.  This team can’t keep trotting out the same core guys on the PP for another season.  It’s either personnel, strategy or execution. Figure it out and fix it.

Asset management.

The Jets and Chevy have something he hasn’t had in his first four years in Winnipeg.  Assets!  If he choices too he could combine a prospect or pick or picks to improve any position on his roster.  Some GM’s have an affinity or knack for turning unproven assets into proven NHL players.  This certainly can reduce the risk but it could also blow up in your face.  I see Chevy treading lightly as far as trading prospects but I’m sure he would move a pick or two if the right player came along.

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers on June 26 and 27.  It could be an interesting day.

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Comments

  1. George Bain says

    I agree Mitch Chevy will be earning his money as we speak! I agree with all your points. Putting on my manager’s hat I would trade Enstrom for forward help or a bigger stay at home defenseman. I’m wondering if Ehlers and Morrissey will make the team next season and if Ehlers makes it where do you play him,

    He’s not that big and if he makes it you might want to protect him somewhat. Maybe on a fourth line with Thorburn and Slater or a different center. If they decide to start him off in the AHL I have no problem with that. It will be an interesting draft, as well as who Chevy keeps and training camp will be competitive I believe.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      The UFAs signed will tell us a lot about where Morrissey and Ehlers play … as for Ehlers it’s either the NHL or back to junior, AHL is not an option yet.

  2. Todd Leroux says

    The team is far away from anything special.

    Trade Bonehead Buff. Stupid plays late in games, stupid, selfish penalties always, and he thinks HE is the team. Get huge return for that idiot.

    Andrew Ladd can stay and be a core member if he likes. On what other playoff team is he a 1st-liner? Reasonable cash with longer term offer.

    Toby Enstrom has an NMC, so why bother discussing?

    Lowry is going to be something really special.

    Bye, Pav.

    IMO.

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