Jets have decisions to make before Kraken draft
Farewell, 2021 NHL season. We weren’t sure what to expect when you started cautiously and quietly at the start of January, but you certainly packaged a punch at the end.
It was quite swan song in the Florida storm this week, a song that should make all other organizations green with envy. Whether it’s winning the rare Stanley Cup repeat or having a crowded arena that brought a shipment of cash to their coffers, there’s no doubt that the Tampa Bay Lightning is currently at the top of the game. hockey mountain.
The question now for 31 other jealous teams: How the hell do we get there next year? The work on this front should already be well under way, with the sprint which is the off-season now upon us.
A flurry of events is at the rendezvous. The window to buy contracts, decisions on restricted free agents including potential arbitration hearings, re-signing or removing pending unrestricted free agents, finalizing protected lists, expansion draft Seattle Kraken, the league’s annual amateur draft and free agent frenzy will occur later this month. We will also have the publication of the 2021-22 schedule and a final decision on participation in the Winter Olympics.
So much for the lazy and hazy days of summer.
With that in mind, here’s what Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s to-do list looks like right now, along with my two cents on how he should approach the important tasks at hand.
1) REDEMPTIONS: The Jets are fortunate enough to have none of the so-called boat anchor deals that drag them down, especially with the salary cap stuck at US $ 81.5 million for the foreseeable future. Are there any offers for? Sure. Blake Wheeler, for example, is unlikely to age well. But there is nothing to see here in terms of who you would be willing to pay the price for to get by.
2) PROTECTED LIST: I would expect Winnipeg to protect the following 11 skaters in a 7-3-1 format: Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry up front; Neal Pionk, Josh Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo on the blue line and Connor Hellebuyck in the goal.
Which probably means losing Logan Stanley or Mason Appleton.
There’s no doubt it will sting, but Cheveldayoff would be wise to avoid a side deal that could actually make matters worse.
I might be tempted to protect Stanley and expose DeMelo, betting the Kraken would then pick a young forward like Appleton over a strong home defender like DeMelo. Cheveldayoff is due to submit his list by July 17, ahead of the July 21 expansion plan.
3) ENTRY PROJECT: The Jets have the 17th pick overall in the first round of the July 23 draft, which will be almost a second consecutive year. This should give them a solid outlook for the future. Zach Parise, Tomas Hertl, and a guy you may have heard of here, Kyle Connor, have all been to the same place in previous years.
Winnipeg has four more selections on July 24, in the second, third, fifth and seventh rounds after trading their fourth-round pick (in Vegas for Cody Eakin in 2020) and sixth-round pick (in Vancouver for Jordie Benn in 2021).
This is where the amateur screening service, which has been a real strength in Winnipeg, will have to do the heavy lifting. Many of these teens have barely played in the past 16 months due to the global pandemic, so the roll of the dice that is the annual talent show is an even bigger roll of the dice this year.
As always, my advice would be to pick the best player available, regardless of the position or organizational needs. But after focusing on the blue line in recent years (13 defensemen, 12 forwards and four goalies in the last five drafts), a focus up front may be in order.
4) FREE AGENTS WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS: There are eight in the fold, who can also offer their services to the rest of the league if they are not re-signed by July 28. Forwards Paul Stastny, Mathieu Perreault, Trevor Lewis and Nate Thompson, defenders Derek Forbort, Tucker Poolman and Jordie Benn and substitute goalie Laurent Brossoit.
I’d be surprised if at least a few of these familiar names aren’t back for another race. Brossoit is a perfect companion for Connor Hellebuyck, Poolman is a drafted and developed player Paul Maurice is bred on, and Stastny is beloved by the team for everything he brings. But again, it’s also a matter of what they might look for elsewhere. With most of the long-term signed kernel and the existing holes on the list needing to be filled, there is little money available.
5) RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Andrew Copp and Neal Pionk, both holders of arbitration rights, are top priorities. They are both coming out of awesome campaigns and are probably in line for some big pay raises. Pionk earned $ 3 million last year while Copp earned $ 2.28 million.
The Jets already took Copp to umpiring two summers ago, an experience that left a mark on the shoulder of the versatile 27-year-old Michigan product, who can play center or wing and move up and down from the top. ‘alignment. They would do well to avoid it again. Locking them into long term extensions would be the best of times, but I have to think you start with a “4” on both players when it comes to average annual salary.
Stanley, provided he is not picked up by Seattle, is the other RFA, but his deal will be much simpler and inexpensive.
6) FREE AGENT FRENZY: Much of what the Jets will do from July onwards will be based on decisions made with their own UFAs and how much they spend (or plan to spend if deals don’t go through) on Copp and Pionk. But there is no doubt that the blue line should be a top priority, with an emphasis on landing a big fish if possible.
The problem is, there isn’t much besides Dougie Hamilton who is likely going to get massive loot in a bidding war for his services.
There are a few scheming second-tier veterans, such as Alec Martinez, Alex Goligoski, Jamie Oleksiak, Alex Edler and Niklas Hjalmarsson on the left side, and Tyson Barrie, Brandon Montour, David Savard, Adam Larsson and Travis Hamonic.
Bottom line: With only Morrissey, Pionk, DeMelo, Stanley and Nathan Beaulieu under team control next year, in addition to young players such as Sami Niku, Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg, there is a lot of work to be done. Add to that the potential need for a new No. 2 goaltender, a few intermediate skaters, and several forwards and defenders to complete a lineup, and it could really be a frenzy here.
7) THE SITUATION OF CHICAGO: Last, but certainly not the least. Cheveldayoff will make multiple media availabilities ahead, and the former Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager will be asked what he knew about two players who reported to management in 2010 that they were sexually assaulted by the coach. video Brad Aldrich.
In a later trial, one of the players accused the organization of a cover-up. Former associate coach John Torchetti and former defensemen Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton have all publicly confirmed that he is well known within the organization. An independent investigation has been opened.
Importantly, Cheveldayoff was reportedly not present at an internal team meeting where the matter was discussed and then ultimately not reported to police. Aldrich quit the organization, received a glowing reference letter, and then assaulted a high school hockey player, for whom he was convicted and jailed. Still, as a former member of this Stanley Cup-winning club, the elephant in the room needs to be addressed.
Add it all up and business, as they say, is about to pick up. And today’s Jets could look a lot different in a few weeks.