NHL Rumor Mill – March 29, 2023
Speculation over Mark Scheifele’s future with the Jets resurfaces plus the latest on the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT SCHEFIELE’S FUTURE IN WINNIPEG
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre recently observed Jets first-line center Mark Scheifele’s offensive struggles have contributed to the club’s slide in the standings in recent weeks.
After being benched in the second period of a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 14, Scheifele responded with no goals and one assist in the seven games since then while appearing less engaged than ever. McIntyre noted the similarities with the Jets’ fading performances in 2018-19 and last season when Scheifele’s performance was also a big issue.
Scheifele’s play is a big reason why there are rumblings around the league that the Jets could undergo a major makeover this offseason, especially with Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Connor Hellebuyck and Pierre-Luc Dubois all a year away from unrestricted free agency. “Maybe that’s for the best,” writes McIntyre, who doubted the Jets could do any damage even if they squeak into the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believed this season was going to be a make-or-break one for the current Jets roster. They looked so good during the first half of the season but they’ve definitely lost their mojo now. As McIntyre pointed out, that’s on their best players, especially those like Scheifele among their leadership group.
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff must finally accept that the Jets have gone as far as they can with this core and make changes. Scheifele and Wheeler are most likely to go, as well as Dubois if he’s unwilling to sign a long-term extension.
Cheveldayoff could be reluctant to move Hellebuyck as reliable starting goalies are hard to find these days. Nevertheless, he should also determine whether the former Vezina Trophy winner still fits within the Jets’ long-term plans.
I don’t see Cheveldayoff parting with Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers or Josh Morrissey as they still have several years remaining on their respective contracts. If he’s looking at a quick turnaround he can build around that trio with promising talent already on the roster like Cole Perfetti and the kids in their pipeline like Chaz Lucius, Rutger McGroarty and Brad Lambert.
LATEST ON THE BLUE JACKETS
Portzline believes the center position will change for the Blue Jackets this summer with Dmitry Voronkov coming over from Russia and the possibility of adding a high-quality center in this year’s draft. That means they won’t have to get a center in return for Roslovic. He speculates their recent move of Patrik Laine to center and Roslovic to the wing might be about showcasing the latter in that position to prospective trade partners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Part of the reason the Winnipeg Jets included Roslovic in the Laine trade to Columbus was his unhappiness about playing wing. He could draw interest as a versatile third-liner in this summer’s trade market but the inconsistency and defensive lapses in his game that Portzline mentions will hurt his value.
Portzline doesn’t see the Jackets drawing from their deep prospect pool for trade bait to acquire a top center, especially since such players are difficult to find in the trade and free-agent markets.