Josh Morrissey is next on Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cehveldayoff’s to-do list, at least in terms of importance. While Nic Petan and Eric Comrie both need deals it’s Morrissey who represents the most important part of the future for the Jets.
Coming off his entry level deal Morrissey has the possibility of going long-term or perhaps a bridge deal where both sides take a risk. The second option is one that would be the more interesting fo the two because of the shared risk. Should a bridge deal, perhaps identical to the one that ended for Jacob Trouba, be reached what would it achieve for both sides?
For the team it gives them some breathing room with cap space that while they do not need right now they will need next year when Laine and Connor come off their entry level deals while established vets Copp and Wheeler need new deals. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the fans’ defense favorites Myers and Chiarot who will also be UFAs.
The other reason it might be worth the risk to the team to move towards a bridge deal is that Kulikov would be off the books at the same time Morrissey came off his deal. It’s a nice little segue that could work with the impending cap challenges the Jets will have.
The Brady Skjei deal could be a road map to where Morrissey goes but perhaps at a bigger cost. See below:
While Morrissey does not quite have the raw production of Skjei based on goals and points he’s not far off and he’s probably a more well-rounded player at a younger age. The difference though is who each player played most of their 5 vs 5 ice time with last season. For Skjei it was Shattenkirk and for Morrissey it was Trouba. Let’s look at how those two appear when compared.
Trouba leads the way and given that Morrissey Trouba played almost 100 5 vs 5 minutes more than Skjei Shattenkrik it seems Josh has the upper hand in terms of talent he’s paired with. That’s not shot at Shattenkirk but at some point for the Jets they have to make a decision, and it’s not an easy one.
Trouba, by many accounts, is believed to have a limited time left in Winnipeg. He’s got one year at 5.5 million and if Skjei is worth 5.25 now then Trouba is worth a lot more at least 1 million more. So where does that leave Morrissey?
As a top pairing unit they are good. Any team would want this combo and that’s the good part the bad part is who to pay and how to manage it- one is not quite equal to the other. If Trouba is the play driver how do you value Morrissey? If Morrissey is the security of the line how do you value Trouba?
Assuming that Trouba is going to leave Winnipeg due to mutual differences in contract value, and other factors would it make sense to lock Morrissey up now for 6-8 years? How do you value those UFA years at this point and what happens if you don’t find him a competent replacement partner?
One thing to consider is that Morrissey and Myers played over 300 5 vs 5 minutes with each other and had reasonable success. To many though the thought of losing Trouba to have a Morrissey Myers top pairing into the future after next season is nightmare enough but that could actually be plan B should Trouba leave at the end of this season or during it via a trade.
(As an aside, if it’s not on your radar now I would suggest preparing for a post-Trouba Jets next season. )
If Plan B really is the most likely option then what does that do for the team? What does it do for Morrissey? For the Jets it means they likely need to be sure of what they are paying for with Morrissey and what he is… it’s why I keep thinking he gets a bride deal.
Morrissey- 2 years 3.5 AAV Expires 2020
Kulikov 4.33 AAV expires 2020
Byfulien 7.6 AAV expires 2021
Poolman 775 AAV expires 2021
Myers 5.5 AAV expires 2019
The first reset would happen with Myers either as a trade this spring or leaving as a UFA or resigned but likely at a similar AAV given the state of talent. The second would be Trouba with the same process as Myers then Kulikov after. Somewhere in their the Jets need to develop 2 defensemen to bring into the league and play. Sami Niku should be one but who is next- Logan Stanley or Dylan Samberg perhaps? There could be hope for Luke Green as he is one of the few RD prospects in the organization.
However, as this pertains Morrissey is irrelevant other than he is needed and that the great depth on the right side can quickly disappear. That being said, given the developments with Trouba the Jets might be itchy to keep Morrissey long term but given the salary cap and more they might bridge him to be sure they know what they have (if that’s not obvious) or just as importantly to buy them some space and time.