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Jets Have Grand Decisions to Make With Star Players

June 7, 2023, 12:50 PM ET [14 Comments]
Jacob Billington
Winnipeg Jets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It is no secret that the Winnipeg Jets are going to need to make some big decisions with their star players. At this point, it seems as if Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Cole Perfetti are the only roster players that are safe.

Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Connor Hellebuyck's clocks may be ticking down in Winnipeg, and Kevin Cheveldayoff is going to have to act fast to get the most out of these players.

Blake Wheeler may be the toughest one to get done. With one season left at a cap hit of $8.25 million, it is almost a sure bet that nobody is taking that full contract. He is still a very valuable player, but clearly on the decline. After recording 55 points in 72 games, Wheeler recorded his lowest point-per-game total as a Jet. Now, 55 points is still quite valuable in this league, and considering his lowered ice time, he will still bring a lot to the table as a middle-six asset.

The value the Jets may get is still up in the air. They are going to have to retain salary to make the deal work, and given that Wheeler has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, that is going to narrow down the options even more. It was reported that both Wheeler and the Jets were interested in facilitating a trade prior to this past season, but couldn't get the numbers right.

A team with cap space and a young roster may be the perfect place for Wheeler. Looking at a team like Chicago, who are not only open to taking on cap, but also starting to add assets to their roster to support upcoming first-overall selection Connor Bedard, could be the perfect spot.

Mark Scheifele will be more sought after than Wheeler, as he is still younger, has a much friendlier contract, and just had a career-high 42 goals. With one more year under contract, many teams would likely be interested in an extension to be worked out if this drags past July 1.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were reportedly in on J.T Miller at the last Trade Deadline, and I would imagine that any team interested in Miller would have an eye on Scheifele. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, there have been big changes with the Penguins, and Kyle Dubas doesn't seem like the kind of GM to acquire a player like Miller or Scheifele. Could Florida make sense?

The Panthers are clearly in win-now mode, and contending for the Stanley Cup as we speak, and with some potential cap issues coming sooner rather than later, Scheifele is worth much more than his contract states. The biggest question mark with this would be be how he and Panthers coach Paul Maurice currently stand. Is their relationship tarnished after their time together in Winnipeg? Or would Maurice love to have him back on his roster?

Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has had his agent express interest in playing in Montreal, is currently an RFA with one year of these rights remaining. As of next summer, Dubois will be a UFA. I have been told that the Canadiens have not been in contact with the Jets about Dubois anytime recently, and while that can change in an instant, that was the last I heard on this topic.

He is a skilled power forward who thrives at center, and on paper, every team should be lining up to get him. Unfortunately, the reports about Dubois and the Canadiens may scare off most teams. Dubois can accept his QO and make his way to Montreal next summer for free. Why would the Canadiens trade for him for any significant value if they don't need to? Even on a one-year deal that takes him to UFA, plenty of teams would be willing to take him on a one-year rental, as long as that is the price they are paying for.

Connor Hellebuyck, easily the most valuable Jet on the block, has been rumoured to be on the move to a young, built team in the East. The Devils, Senators and Sabres have all been linked, and all have the capital to give the Jets what they want; roster players. The Jets don't want to rebuild (Groundhog Day?) and want to re-tool. The issue with that, is while you may get a young NHL-ready goaltender (Sogaard, Luukkonen, Schmid), none will be of Hellebuyck's calibre and you are now missing an elite goalie.

This will be such an interesting deal to work out as there is no set market for a top three goaltender in the league. Trades like this don't happen.

We will get into more mock trades as more rumours come out, and with the draft coming quick and the Jets having so many pieces to move, it will be in interesting next 4 weeks for the club.
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