What Next For The Winnipeg Jets?

by | May 21, 2018 | Rumors | 36 comments

Despite being ousted in the 2018 Western Conference Final, the Winnipeg Jets appear to have a bright future. However, they also face some significant offseason decisions. Check out the latest in your NHL rumor mill.

ESPN.COM: Re-signing restricted free agents such as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and defensemen Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey, as well as inking young winger Patrik Laine to a contract extension, are among Emily Kaplan’s offseason keys for the Winnipeg Jets.

Center Paul Stastny hasn’t rule out re-signing with the Winnipeg Jets, but it remains to be seen if they can afford to keep him (Photo via NHL Images)

Hellebucyk had a stellar season, becoming a finalist for the 2018 Vezina Trophy. Laine, who can be signed to an extension on July 1, could exceed Mark Scheifele’s $6.125 million annual average value. Trouba and Morrissey should be invaluable pieces of their blueline for years.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff likely also wants to retain RFAs such as Joel Armia, Adam Lowry, Joe Morrow and Brandon Tanev. He could also face some tough decisions regarding pending unrestricted free agents Paul Stastny and Toby Enstrom.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien noted the Jets will be challenged in the coming years by their Central Division rivals. They must continue to cultivate what O’Brien calls their “robust bounty of talented players.”

Re-signing Hellebuyck and Trouba this summer will be expensive, as will Laine and rookie Kyle Connor by next summer. Captain Blake Wheeler is also a year away from UFA status and could seek a significant raise, though he’ll be 33 when his next contract kicks in. O’Brien also wonders if Cheveldayoff might try moving backup goalie Steve Mason and his $4.1-million cap hit.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jason Bell reports center Paul Stastny, an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is open to returning with the Jets. “There is always a possibility. I have no regrets,” said Stastny. “Probably the best decision I ever made was this one. It made the game that much more fun again.” The Jets gave up a first-round pick and a prospect to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline to acquire Stastny, who waived his no-trade clause to go to Winnipeg. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders if there’s any way the Jets can retain Stastny. If he wants to return, Cheveldayoff could find it difficult coming up with sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign him. Stastny could be in high demand in this summer’s UFA market. Unless Cheveldayoff gets creative, Larkin doubts the Jets GM will have enough cap room left to retain Stastny. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In a recent Featurd.io piece, I also explored the difficulty the Jets could face maintaining a contender.

They’ve never before dealt with the difficulty of maintaining a Stanley Cup contender. They’re about to find out how hard it can be. How Cheveldayoff manages this will determine how long the Jets’ championship window remains open. As long as those good young RFAs continue to improve, the Jets could maintain a deep roster for a while. At some point in the near future, however, salary-cap restrictions will be felt. 

Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $55 million invested in 15 players for 2018-19. Assuming the cap ceiling reaches $80 million as projected, Cheveldayoff will have around $25 million to work with. Most of that, however, will be taken up by re-signing Hellebuyck, Trouba, and Morrissey, as well as most of their depth RFAs. That means bidding farewell to Stastny and Enstrom this summer. 

Re-signing Laine, Connor and Wheeler will take big bites of their 2019-20 cap space. Defenseman Tyler Myers, who’s also a UFA next July, could become a cap casualty. 



  1. Someone yesterday was basically saying the Jets model of building a franchise was a good example of how to do it. To which I disagreed because it’s WAY to early, and the Jets haven’t exactly shown they can sustain being a competitive team. Really, they’ve shown nothing until this year.

    I think this and next year will show is exactly how well this model works. 25 million sounds like a lot of space until you consider what Trouba , Morrisey, Hellebuyck, Myers will be seeking. What is Laine going to want? 9-10-12 per?

    Winnipeg no question will be faced with having to make some gut wrenching decisions over the next 2 years. Building what they have today is one thing. Being able to move on from players and still be competitive will be a complete different animal in the cap world. Especially when they won’t be picking in the top 10 (barring trades) for the foreseeable future.

    • I’ve been saying this about the leafs and oilers rebuild, drafting skill is fine for the regular season but if you don’t have the hardworking big heart guys for the playoffs you aren’t going anywhere.

      • Worry about your habs. You guys have enough problems to deal with. Your like a kid who talks about other people to mask your own issues.

      • Lol I guess fd is a leaf fan that has been rebuilding for 50+ yrs to do what vegas has done in ONE! Hey fd Boston has 5 rookies in the lineup and still beat the leafs! How long has their rebuild been?

  2. Every team faces the same challenges Nyr4life. I am very disappointed with the Jets loss to the Knights, but on the flip side see the Knights as a model other teams I am sure will embrace. The coaching staff deserves full marks for this successful young franchise. They play a team game. Some people like to argue that Vegas had an advantage because of the draft. This is totally untrue. This is not a star studded lineup and even MAF has struggled throughout his career. Actually several players taken by the Knights have become stars because of the opportunity they were presented. They are proof that a team can have tremendous without a Crosby or McDavid. Because of their success I think many franchises will think twice about blowing the budget on that one player who can apparently win it all for you. This is a sports story for the ages. Now that the Knights are in the Final I hope they win at all. I really think a Knights championship will influence player personnel decisions in the future.

    • Let’s not forget the Fl Panthers has one incredible year early on where they went to finals. Yeah, Vegas had an incredible run, but still hasn’t won anything. Just like what was said about Jets, let’s wait and see what the future holds.

      • No they haven’t won anything yet. But in their inaugural season they’ve won more playoff series and games than Winnipeg has in 18 years.

      • Let’s not forget the Florida Panthers bungling is a huge part of Vegas’ success. They give the Knights Marchy and Smith that 2/3 of their top line. If they would have kept these 2 players and swung a different deal is Vegas in the finals? It’s a great story and it’s never been before and never will again that a first year team makes the finals. It’s great press for the NHL but there was a whole lot of dumb luck that has gone into this run by Vegas. Not trying to take anything away from the players they deserve every ounce of credit and praise they get but no one could have ever predicted this outcome at the beginning of the season. McPhee, before this year, had the claim to fame of making the worst trade of the last decade. Gallant is a good coach but he got canned by Florida and they left him out on the street to find his own way home. As good as the Panthers were the last 1/3 of the season with Marchessault and Smith it could be them in the finals. I guess what I’m trying to say is you have to pay to play, being cheep is the road to ridicule and ruin.

  3. Doug I agree Vegas shows you don’t need stars to win you need good fast players with incredible work ethic. I hope they don’t sign some of these guys for big contracts like Neal but instead continue to give opportunity to some of their young players. I knew Vegas wouldn’t be horrible but I had no idea they would be Stanley cup finalists.

  4. You have to be happy for those long suffering Vegas fans…

    Their team had never been to a Cup Final before.

    I’m glad their patience and loyalty during the dark days has been rewarded.

    • Nice one – the Golden Knights have finally broken through.

    • what do you mean by long suffering ? ist their first year

      • Sarcasm…. May it Rest In Peace

    • 😀

    • I take as a slap to face to fans that supported there teams for decades and never been in Vegas’s position. The league went to far and made them to competive. Meanwhile, teams like the cunucks for down in the draft for three consecutive years. Its all about money and wanting the knights to be successful right away, welcome to the new nhl Seattle.

      • Why is any one team more deserving than the next?
        Obviously, I’d rather see NY winning than anyone else, Tampa a close 2nd. But are they more deserving because I’m a fan? No. Was Winnipeg more deserving? They really haven’t accomplished much in their 18 years in the league.

        Vegas season could have played out much differently than this. They could have been a bottom dweller sucking up picks and having seats empty losing money. Personally, I’d like to see expansion teams do well rather than be the next Arizona!

        Having expansion teams flop, for a decade plus isn’t the way to build and grow this sport. It’s flat out bad for business.There is no conspiracy or boogeyman here. A LOT of things have gone very right for this organization. Without a successful franchise in Vegas, I think things could get very ugly.

        If nothing else, it’s a pretty amazing story and accomplishment, regardless of who we cheer for!

      • bravo. I give vegas full credit for acquiring the right players, and getting an excellent coach. but they were given league mandated opportunities to succeed. advantages that few if any “expansion” teams have received. and as for the panthers, that was the most famous cab fare when they jettisoned gallant. all things considered, if vegas wins the cup, I hope bettman fishes his skates out of the closet and does a few laps with lord Stanley.

      • It’s amazing how Vegas has brought so much bitterness out of mostly Canadian hockey fans

      • The expansion draft rules did not make Vegas an instant Stanley Cup contender. The Vegas ownership, management and their players made themselves what they are. The same expansion draft rules will not guarantee Seattle is a playoff team in their first season. What the rules did do was guarantee that Vegas would have NHL players, give them a chance to be competitive and maybe not finish last. Fortunately their players and coach did not settle for that.

        This is one of the best things that could have happened in the NHL. The NHL proved that despite the number of teams there is more talent in the league than there has ever been. It proved that NHL Hockey is still the ultimate team sport. It proved you can win without paying big money to a superstar. It reminded other NHL players what hard work, teamwork and the right attitude can accomplish.

    • Best comment of the day!!!

  5. Paul Statsny is 32 years old and had 53 points in 82 games, not sure why Winnipeg would want him back unless it’s for 1 year and have price.

    • Ya but look at his stats while playing for Winnipeg not while playing with the blues too

      • He did play really well but these days never give deals more than 1 year or 2 with a guy who’s 32.

  6. Winnipeg will be interesting to watch. They have strong value in the Scheifele signing $6.125 per for 6yrs and Ehlers $6m per for 7yrs.
    Enstrom is done, I do not see Winnipeg bringing him back. I don’t see them trading Mason, his signing help drive Helleybuck to the next level.
    It isn’t so much the Trouba signing for me because he is going to get his money 7 or 8yrs at $7.5 it’s the cost of Armia, Lowry and Dano can’t over pay but valuable members of the team. Also having Morrissey an rfa what does that deal look like.
    Winnipeg has 14 rfa’s and ufa’s this summer and another 7 next season. That’s a lot of players that you have to negotiate over a very short period. Personally I would like to see it more stagger; it is what it is now lets see how it all unfolds. Trouba and Morrissey will be the two most intriguing to watch, also to see how Chevy pays the bottom 6.

    • Scheifele and Ehlers deals are great value. Was thinking they should offer Connor the same deal as Ehlers 7 years $42M. Offer both Trouba and Laine 8 year extensions for $7.5-8.0M per. Hellebuyck 6 years $6.25M per. Morrissey 2 year bridge $3M+ per. And hang on to guys like Armia And Lowry. Let the rest go. Unless Stastny will take a 1 year deal

  7. Enstrom has not stayed healthy his entire career. A nice offensive touch but any shift could be his last-bye bye. If Stastny wants the same money as his expiring deal regardless of term also bye bye. Connor and Laine need to be bridged for less then Scheifele . Jets should have a window of another 3-4 years

  8. Pitts gave LV a second rnd pick to take MAF. Would Pitts still be going for a 3 peat with MAF and Ryan Reaves on their roster.

    • Ha-ha! I was waiting for someone to raise the MAF issue. Tons of debates about MAF leading up to the expansion draft. Like many other teams, Pit was forced to let a great player leave due to the cap, for business reasons. Expansion or not, a luxury Pit couldn’t afford.

    • If you want to play what if then change the narrative to what if Brassard, Kessel, Haglen, ZAR, Murray, Simon, Rust, and others were at least 80% healthy and could actually contribute? MAF has had a run for the ages and good for him but he was over paid to be the backup on the Penguins. He’s a decade older than Murray who is on the young side of being an NHL contenders goalie. When Murray is 25-26 he will have be a force of nature. As happy as I am for Vegas and their 6 former Penguins I wouldn’t change anything and keep MAF over Murray. Murray had a tough year both physically and personally. Fans need to remember how young he actually is. The long answer to your question is with MAF and Reaves they would still be a very unhealthy team and they would have still flamed out in the second or they would have lost in the first round. MAF let the Penguins down year after year in the league playoffs. I’m happy for his success this year but I would never keep him over Matty.

    • Would have been interesting to see what would have happened. But pens had no real choice. I think pens could have been better with maf but it’s complicated. Would maf have been better playing behind that porous pens d? His athletic style might have been better for it but it’s also a high risk high reward style. Pens went with the younger cheaper steadier option as they should have. Reaves was addition by subtraction.

      I am rooting hard for Marc as he was one of the nicest and coolest athletes is pittsbugh hockey history. But I have no regrets about moving him. The second rounder ensured that Vegas wouldn’t take like cole or rust etc leaving pens with over 10 million in goalie cap hit

  9. Jets-Nashville 2nd round matchup again in 2019.
    No reason to believe the Jets will not be even better next season,
    But hey-I called Jets in 5 vs Vegas….

  10. “Laine, who can be signed to an extension on July 1, could exceed Mark Scheifele’s $6.125 million annual average value.” Could? Eichel making 10M.

  11. Helybuck wasn’t great in playoffs. To me, he’s still a big ? Going forward.

    • Helly played very well still.yes he was shaky,but he still was lights out.

      Also his d fance played poorly

      • What was his save % vs Vegas? His defense is pretty solid

  12. Another thing I noticed with Vegas was they picked up the Clarence Campbell Bowl and took it to the dressing room with them. It’s about this stupid superstition was abandoned! They just won a championship! It should be celebrated. It may be a lot no time before they do it again. There should be a playoff MVP for each Conferemce and then another for the Final itself. The Gretzky Trophy in the West; the Lemieux in the East and the Belliveau Trophy for the Final to commemorate the first ever Conn Smythe winner. The League is getting bigger so the chance to win anything gets magnified. So what is actually accomplished should be celebrated on a larger scale as well.