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Jets off-season look, crunching numbers, Mailbag #2

May 15, 2022, 7:33 PM ET [32 Comments]
Jacob Billington
Winnipeg Jets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
With most of round one of the NHL Playoffs wrapping up, and the draft lottery come and gone, it is really time to start having a look at the off-season, and what the Jets may look to be doing.

Before we get into that, just a reminder than we have another Mailbag coming up next weekend, as well as a full first-sixteen pick mock draft before the end of the month. If you have questions to submit to the Mailbag, leave them in the comment box below, and I will be looking for the most creative, in-depth, and asked questions.

What does the Jets lineup look like headed into next season? Let's have a look at the roster the Jets have under contract right now. Don't get too caught up in the line numberings, and who is placed where, as a new coaching staff may have things look identical, or completely different from last season. This is just where they may have played a lot last year, and some rookies sliding in to spots that make sense.

Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler
Connor-_____-Perfetti
_____-_____-_____
Toninato-Lowry-______
($32,412,024)

Morrissey-DeMelo
Dillon-Pionk
Stanley-Schmidt
($25,875,000)

Hellebuyck
________
($6,166,666)

14/20 slots filled, using $64,453,690/$82,500,000, or 78.13% or the maximum cap hit next year.

This lineup that is under contract will not be who is iced in October, and especially where they will be in the lineup. Who do the Jets have to sign?

RFA's:
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Mason Appleton
Evgeny Svechnikov
Jansen Harkins
Kristian Vesalainen
David Gustafsson
Jeff Malot
Leon Gawanke
Markus Phillips
Johnathan Kovacevic
Phillip Derosiers

UFA's:
Paul Stastny
Zach Sanford
Adam Brooks
Eric Comrie
Luke Johnson
Austin Poganski
C.J Suess

Now, obviously, not all of these players are expeced to play in the NHL next year, but the team also has to worry about some of these guys for the Manitoba Moose, too. Some will sign AHL contracts, some will be released, and some will be re-signed. Here, we will go through each player, and what I expect to see.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, 23, C, RFA

Pierre-Luc Dubois is the biggest name for the Jets to sign, and it is not close. After being traded for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, the expectations were high. Dubois had a great year, getting close to the 30-goal mark, and reaching 60 points for the second time in his career. I think the sky is the limit with Dubois, especially alongside Kyle Connor, who Dubois has developed some excellent chemistry with. There has been a bit of everything tossed around in terms of rumours about what to expect for PLD this summer, including him wanting a short-term contract, and the Jets wanting to go longer, as well as the idea of a trade.



I don't see much of a possibility of a trade happening, as I believe the Jets see Dubois as the number one center, should the move on from Mark Scheifele, and even if they are both around next year, it will be a clear 1A/1B situation. Dubois has earned a spot at the top of the lineup, and will be looking to take in a big paycheck. I would guess one of the two sides cave in, and the deal is either 3 years, or 7 years, and not really anywhere in the middle. The AAV on this deal will very likely be north of $7m, and close to the $7.75m mark, especially if it is a long term deal.

Paul Stastny, 36, C/LW, UFA

Paul Stasnty, while maybe not at the top of the priority list for Kevin Cheveldayoff, is a vetern the Jets may very well look at bringing back. Stastny said he has not made a decision yet, and will feel out his body, and see what shape he is in after having some recovery time. I fully expect Stastny to stay in the NHL, and will certainly have some offers on the table if he goes to free agnecy.

Do the Jets need Stastny? No. Should they bring him back? Maybe.

Stastny is a veteran that is very familiar with the organization, and he comes as advertised. He is getting close to the end of his career, and while he won't be a star anywhere in the lineup, he can play on all lines, and fit well in them. His leadership, while many fingers point towards being positive, and he had lots of open things to say at the end of the year about the locker room in Winnipeg, may be questioned, as there seems to be a serious need of change in the leadership core. I don't think Stastny ends up returning, but I could be completely wrong. The fact that he wasn't traded at the deadline makes me think that the Jets have some interst in retaining the veteran, but now is the time to let the younger guys take over.

If Stastny returns, I see a mutual 1-2 year contract within the interest of both parties, likely around the $1.5m mark.

Eric Comrie, 26, G, UFA

Eric Comrie is very likely to return to the Jets. Having been on 3 different teams in the NHL, including the Jets twice, and 2 AHL teams, he is definitely looking for some stability. Comrie came into this season with only 9 NHL games across 5 seasons, making him a huge question mark to support Connor Hellebuyck. He proved everyone wrong. Though only lacing up for 19 games, Comrie registered a 0.920SV%, and a 2.58 GAA. These are great numbers, and while many would argue it has a lot to do with the small sample size, I would disagree. I don't think he would keep up the numbers if he split the season and started 41 games, but these numbers are not as high as they are because of the sample size. I would say pencilling him in as a consistent 0.910+ is a safe bet, regardless of how many games are played.



When I say that Comrie is looking for stability, I don't mean he wants a 5 year deal or anything like that. I think he would have had the conversation by now, with the Jets management and coaching team about what they see in him, and the expectations this summer. I wouldn't be surprised to see Comrie wait until free agency opens, have a look at the offers on the table, and makea fairly quick decision, likely sticking in Winnipeg. In a different, yet similar scenario as Anton Forsberg in Ottawa, they both made a statement in their play this year, and Forsberg earned a 3x2.75 contract. Comrie will not get that much, as Ottawa looks at Forsberg as part of a splitting tandem, but closer to the 2-3 year, $2m range is something I would expect Comrie to recieve, hopefully with the Jets.

Evgeny Svechnikov, 25, LW/RW, RFA

Evgeny Svechnikov joined the Jets last summer on a PTO (Professional Tryout), and proved himself worth of sticking around. He got a lot of chances everywhere in the lineup, mostly playing alongside Connor and Dubois, and did quite well there. Many Jets fans have been a big fan of him everywhere in the lineup, though I much preferred the games where Svechnikov was in the top-six. He isn't quite the definition of a "product of his linemates", but I don't see a place in the bottom-six where Svechnikov can carry a line, and produce like he did. Let me be clear, though, I do think he should be returning to the Jets, even if it is in a 3rd line role.

Svechnikov, like Eric Comrie, will be hoping for a bit of stability. A contract in the $1m-$1.75m seems most likely, and anywhere from 1-3 years could work out for both sides. Svechnikov is a very nice complimentary piece.

Zach Sanford, 27, LW/RW, UFA

Zach Sanford came in at the trade deadline, and played as many expected. He wasn't a line driver, but was able to keep up with the offense, even earning himself some time in the top-six for a few games. His defending wasn't spectacular either, though it seemed much better than his time in St. Louis and especially in Ottawa. He would be an ideal 4th liner if this team was competitive, but in a year I expect the Jets look to inject more youth, and do a re-tool, I don't think there is a spot for him next year. He will likely be looking at a short term deal, under the $2.5m point, which I can definitely see the Jets taking a look at, but just not this year.

Mason Appleton, 26, RW, RFA

Mason Appleton, like Sanford, was acquired at the trade deadline. What is different here, is that Appleton was re-acquired. After being selected by Seattle in the expansion draft, the Jets took the chance to get him back. The production wasn't there after returning, but his two-way game, including being an addition on the offensive front, was what the Jets were hoping to see return. It isn't all that common, but some players, like Appleton, do a great job being a part of the offense, and forecheck, but just doesn't get the points. His defensive game has been great, and the Jets will definitely be looking at bringing him back.

Anywhere in the $2m-$3.5m range would make sense to me, on a 1-2 year deal for Appleton. I think there is a lot of mutual interest in Appleton sticking around.

Kristian Vesalainen, 22, RW/LW, RFA

Vesalainen will be looking for a one-way contract, I imagine. I am not completely sold on the fact that the Jets will give it to him, but that is something for the agent to deal with. Veslainen has not lived up to his draft position yet, though at just 22 years old, he has lots of time to grow. What feels like forever ago, Vesalainen was a piece that Winnipeg was not willing to give up, alongside Sami Niku, in a blockbuster trade for Erik Karlsson, if my memory serves me well from the dark-horse rumours. Whether the deal ends up being a one-way, or a two-way contract, I don't think that Vesalainen will fetch over a million dollars this off-season, but will sign a one year deal and hope for a better year.

Jansen Harkins, 24, LW/C, RFA

Jansen Harkins is a piece of the bottom-six that will likely be sticking around for the next number of years. I could see him getting the Lowry treatment, with a long-term deal, on a low AAV, keeping in mind it would be shorter and lower than Lowry's contract, but there is a really good chance it is a 2x950k deal. Harkins produces next to no offense, but I really like him in a shutdown role. A player who is looking like a career 4th-liner, but an effective one. There is nothing wrong with that. Especially as an RFA, the Jets will certainly be keeping Harkins around.

The obvious, 1-3 year, under $1m contracts

David Gustafsson, 22, C, RFA
Leon Gawanke, 22, RD, RFA
Johnathan Kovacevic, 24, RD, RFA

The three of these prospects are sure-fires to getting re-upped on a new deal. They will each get 1-3 years at a million dollars or less. Hopefull some defense are moved out of the Jets current lineup, giving Gawanke and Kovacevic a shot in the NHL, as well as Heinola and Samberg getting more ice time. I don't have to go too deep into these three, as it as almost a guaruntee that they stay.

The NHL Fringe

Adam Brooks, 26, C, UFA
C.J Suess, 28, LW, UFA
Austin Poganski, 26, RW, UFA

The three of these players, well, it's a toss up if they get signed or not. Any one of these players who sign are almost certain to get a two-way contract. I like Suess and Poganski as some depth options for injuries, and they play well for the Manitoba Moose, but Adam Brooks is very likely not returning. Again, not much to say about these guys, as none of the are expected to be a part of the every day NHL lineup, though I could see Poganski or Suess put in a strong training camp and earn a few extra chances.

So, the most likely lineup, without any free agency signings, trades, or anything that will most definitely be happening, and taking the higher end of the predicted salary, this is what the lineup could look like:

Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler
Connor-Dubois-Perfetti
Barron-Gustafsson-Appleton
Harkins-Lowry-Vesalainen
($44,629,524)

Morrissey-DeMelo
Dillon-Pionk
Stanley-Schmidt
($25,875,000)

Hellebuyck
Comrie
($8,666,666)

Is this the roster the Jets will start with? No.

Internally, this is their best team, without moving anyone out or scratching any of the NHL regular defenseman. This roster eqates to $79,171,190 of the $82.5m cap ceiling, leaving this roster $3,328,810 in cap space.

Again, I am not saying this is what to expect. Many names will be long gone by opening night in October, and new ones will be in, and some of these players I have listed will not be re-signed. But internally, this is what the Jets have, and the decisions they have to make.

Who would you re-sign? Who would you release? Let me know in the comment box below, as well as any Mailbag questions you have for next weekend. Have a great night!

(and if you were early enough to see the accidental Washington logo as the blog's picture, thank you for the dedication haha)
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