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Then there were two...

July 26, 2019, 11:31 AM ET [68 Comments]
Peter Tessier
Winnipeg Jets Blogger •Winnipeg Jets Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The RFAs are done, well the easy ones are and the Jets now set their sights to the two biggest and probably most important contracts they have yet to complete, Laine and Connor. So much has been written about these two and their value, the term possibilities and the actual salaries they should earn versus the ones they may likely negotiate. The fact is, not a whisper has been heard from either camp and that's either a good thing or a a troubling reality.

What is certain is that having a contract impasse is not going to work for the Jets as they have lost talent this year and not replaced it. A holdout by either player is not the same as the Leafs and Nylander last year, the Jets are not adding a forward like Tavares to offset the temporary loss of another.

If history is any indication the Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will look to sign their high-scoring forwards long-term as they did with Kane, Scheifele and Ehlers coming out of their entry-level deals. Yet the only indication of progress comes from 'spitballing chatter' about Laine possibly wanting to bridge and bet on himself having a better year(s).

The Jets have $17,592,503 in cap space and a roster size of 17. So they need to add 5-6 contract to the opening night roster. Connor and Laine would take up 2 of those so where do the others come from?

Certainly Kristian Vesalainen will get another opportunity to play on his entry-level deal at $894k and would it surprise anyone to see Mark Letestu starting on the team with his near league-minimum salary?

That leaves two possible contract/roster spots open. With Vesalainen and Letestu on the books that leaves 15,998,000 in space. That means Connor and Laine likely have to come in under 13 million combined to give Cheveldayoff space and room to add two more players. Does anyone see two long-term deals averaging 6.5m each? Me either.

There could be a trade coming if the Jets do not use the very slim buyout window now available to buy out a player, most likely Kulikov. Which at that point still leaves them without a roster player.
Something would have to give it appears.

One rumor that I had heard was that Chevy had some trade options and was waiting until after the Pionk and Copp deals were done so he knew where his cap was. This makes sense but don't Connor and Laine have an effect too? If this rumor is true then it's possible that Chevy has a basic idea of where the final number (and Term) will be for Laine and Connor or, they are part of a trade deal.

Going by memory it seems that there are not many deals of that magnitude down later in the summer. I may be wrong but players are people too and like stability unless they are driving the change and perhaps the only player looking to drive change could be Laine, that's if rumors are to be believed. Those rumors suggest he is unhappy with his role/linemates on the team and if that is part of a contract issue then perhaps there is some truth in those rumors.

The bigger picture suggests that the Jets have cap space and can figure this out with both Laine and Connor but looking a bit closer it's not that easy as they need to fill in the roster and are short 2 players. While other teams add depth at reasonable deals the Jets are silent, almost in stasis, and that suggests something is going to happen. Something has to happen as even with Laine and Connor signed, there's more work to be done.
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