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Jets' Morrissey: Having Scheifele, Hellebuyck back is 'massive'

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

Count Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey among those who are relieved that Winnipeg's anticipated offseason exodus was more or less kept to a minimum.

"To have (Mark Scheifele) and (Connor Hellebuyck) back is massive," he said Thursday, according to the Winnipeg Sun's Paul Friesen. "Outside of this year, who knows? ... But to have them here and to have the mindset that we're here to do some damage this season is what it's all about."

Scheifele and Hellebuyck are both pending unrestricted free agents who've been eligible for extensions since July 1. Hellebuyck, in particular, has had his future with the franchise called into question.

Reports surfaced in June that the Jets discussed Hellebuyck with the New Jersey Devils after the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner apparently wasn't interested in re-upping with Winnipeg.

However, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff recently stated his team's "singular focus is winning" with Scheifele and Hellebuyck. He expects both players to be in Winnipeg's opening-night lineup Oct. 11 against the Calgary Flames.

That was music to Morrissey's ears.

"The fact they're both here, I'll be the first guy in line to welcome them in the door," he said. "As a guy that's signed here for five years, I don't want any part of a rebuild at this time in my career."

The Jets' summer wasn't totally without seismic shifts, though. Winnipeg bought out former captain Blake Wheeler and shipped the beleaguered Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forwards Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Dubois trade in particular stood out to Morrissey.

"The organization made it clear to us ... they aren't going the route of acquiring draft picks," he said. "They made a statement in acquiring players that are really good and are going to help us try to win games right now. That message coming from the team was awesome."

Morrissey enjoyed an emergent 2022-23 campaign in which he more than doubled his career high in points from 37 to 76. He also led the team in average ice time (24:14) by over two minutes. Morrissey tied Vancouver Canucks captain Quinn Hughes for the second-most points by a defenseman league-wide, trailing only Erik Karlsson. He finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting.

The 28-year-old signed an eight-year, $50-million extension with the Jets in September 2019.

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