The Aftermath- where do the Jets start?
The exit interviews will be done hopefully with the coach and the GM, but separately. The media availability is over and the stories will be written based on the factual quotes from players and coach and GM and from the slivers of inside information. Rumors will follow.
What we know is that the Jets are not a happy unit. As Paul Maurice alluded to yesterday there are some 'feathers that need to be unruffled' within the room, yet there are sure to be changes coming simply due to contracts and salary cap. So what are those changes?
It's known and beyond obvious that the Jets cannot afford to keep this roster intact and nor should they, it's not right. There are problems whether it be by fit, make up, personality or skill set. The Jets are not complete, or at least complete enough to compete to the level that expectations set last year.
There will be moves but what are the right moves?
The first thing to consider is understanding what kind of team the GM is tiring to build for the coach to use. Is it a fast attacking team or a highly skilled one playing a complete game at each end of the ice? Is it something else, one that will grind down the opposition via size and puck control? This is important for Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice to agree upon as it will likely dictate what player to retain and what other kinds of moves should or could be made.
For the sake of argument assume that the RFAs are retained with the exception of Trouba and Morrow. Copp and Brossoit will receive significant raises while Laine and Connor will have massive jumps and when combined could equal close to 17 million total. Chevy might get lucky and be smart at the same time and be able to bridge one delaying the eventual hit but that has not been his MO when dealing with young talented players.
Between the for of those players it's likely that the total gets close to 20 million in salary. The Jets have 23,875,000 in cap space for next year at the current cap limit.
For the UFAs assume that Myers and Hendricks are gone as will be Hayes and perhaps Chiarot. That leaves Tanev, Kiselevich, and Lindholm to return. That is a total of 3 million now for those three so assume two are kept near their 925,000 amount and Tanev gets a raise and the Winnipeg Jets roster would look something like this
Ehlers Schiefe Wheeler
Connor Little Laine
Copp Lowry Tanev
Perreault Lindholm Roslovic
Where do the other 2 RD come from and at what cost?
If you are believer that Trouba is gone then there is a return coming for him, hopefully one that helps the Jets rather than for pennies on the dollar because he and his agent Kurt Overhardt decide to be difficult in a trade scenario.
Nathan Beaulieu could be qualified and have a deal negotiated around his current salary of 2.4 million per year and Tucker Poolman could be ready for prime time if his health due to concussion allows but there's not much room for insurance now.
So look at that roster, fill in some holes and the question becomes not if it's better than this past season's but if it is designed to be what the GM and coach want. Given the three possibilities listed above, this group misses the mark. This is why there are probably some bigger changes coming to the roster.
As more information slowly seeps out then some more accurate gauge of what could happen can be speculated on- basically guesstimating. That's the fun part fo the off season.
Now before everyone goes wild with trade scenarios consider some variables beforehand. Trading Trouba is likely not to bring back another defender except for a very select few teams if he even wants to go to any of them and they want to make a change. The higher probability is that Trouba is traded for a forward and another deal is made to bring back a defenceman.
Would the Jets consider dealing Perreault to free up cap space and a roster spot for some on cheaper? Could the discussions with Dylan Samberg bring him to the roster? Also, what about Kristian Vesalainen- the long forgotten but highly talented forward who left the Jets for the KHL before returning to the Moose to close the season?
Could the Jets buyout Kulikov and save 2.44 million this year but add 1.44 for 20-21?
The big issue to consider this offseason is also how conservative or bold Kevin Cheveldayoff will be when it comes to his roster. Given the aftermath of the season and playoffs and what has seeped out and other information to come there is work to be done. It starts with the roster and understanding why and how things went wrong, figuring out what changes need to be made, and then how to make those changes.
The first question however is what kind of team do the Jets want to have and what do they need to make it that way? There will never be a clear but definitive answer from the GM or coach on that question but as changes start there may be some telling signs. I would not expect changes to take long to happen once the post season wraps up, especially given the Jets do not have many picks in this year's draft.
Why that is mportant is because should trades be coming they might not happen at the draft as the Jets don't have picks to swap or move. Unless there is a special player they want, they are likely not going to be looking to recoup higher picks as the draft is not believed to be deep.
If a quick summary had to be made about the aftermath of this season and what comes next it's that the Jets have a lot of moving parts and the sooner they identify and lock the critical ones down they can begin fixing the issues on the ice, and in the room, to build for next year.