The Jets must decide on the futures of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, plus Flames GM Brad Treliving claims to have no intention of blowing up his roster.
Latest on Ladd and Byfuglien.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe believes it’s time for the Jets to re-sign left wing Andrew Ladd and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien or start listening to trade offers for them. While Wiebe doesn’t consider the uncertainty over the futures of these pending UFAs a factor in the Jets 4-9-1 record through November, he doesn’t think it helps the situation. He believes Byfuglien could seek a deal comparable to those of Calgary’s Mark Giordano and Chicago’s Brent Seabrook (six-to-eight years, north of $6.75 million per season). Wiebe feels re-signing both now sends a message of stability to the Jets, but if they can’t be re-signed, it’s best to move them out for a return that can help the club. With the Jets on the bubble, he feels GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can’t wait for the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff could be awaiting the league’s preliminary salary-cap projections for next season (usually announced in December) before getting into serious contract talks with Ladd and Byfuglien. However, the Jets are a budget team and never spend toward the cap ceiling. They currently have one of the lowest payrolls in the league. If they’re unwilling to spend toward the cap maximum, they won’t re-sign Ladd and Byfuglien. One of them will have to go, and I suspect it’ll be Byfuglien.
The problem with trying to make a trade now is that such deals involving star players rarely take place at this point in the season. The last one of note was 10 years ago (Joe Thornton to San Jose), and I don’t foresee another happening this season. I suspect Cheveldayoff will wait until January before deciding what to do with Ladd and Byfuglien. Much will depend upon where they are in the standings by then.
Flames GM staying the course.
CALGARY SUN: Randy Sportak reports Flames GM Brad Treliving doesn’t foresee doing anything that will shake up his roster. “Everyone says, ‘Let’s blow it up,’ but that’s not reality. You build your team in the summer and you try to find ways to improve it, and that’s what we’re doing.” Sportak believes any kind of moves that give the Flames a short-term fix would include trading away young stars like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett or their first-round draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last season’s surprising performance gave Flames fans (and observers like myself) the idea the club was ahead of schedule in its rebuild, even though their puck-possession stats were horrible last season. Despite the Flames’ questionable goaltending, I felt (as did many others) the additions of Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton would significantly improve their play. We were wrong. Last season provided a hint of the promise the Flames have, but they still have a lot of work to do. And it starts between the pipes and on the blueline. They must add a quality starting goalie and implement a better defensive system. They’ve got the blueline depth, it’s just not being utilized properly.