Offseason Roundup: Winnipeg Jets
Over the next month, theScore's NHL editors will review all the offseason moves for each team around the league.
OK, Kevin Cheveldayoff, your Winnipeg Jets have been in the league for three seasons now. Time to, you know, compete, eh?
Now wrapping up their fourth offseason in operation, the Jets' ease back into the NHL continues after another self-effacing summer. The veteran core inherited from Atlanta continues to receive support exclusively from the draft, preventing the team's long-awaited return from being of prominence.
The summer months did, however, begin with owner Mark Chipman's wallet loosening. The Jets extended their most-prominent mid-season acquisition, well, ever, agreeing on a four-year pact with head coach Paul Maurice.
The veteran coach took over for Claude Noel in mid-January, guiding the Jets to an 18-12-5 record down the stretch. His presence translated to only modest results in the standings (leapfrogging the Vancouver Canucks for a 12th-place finish out West), but Maurice was lauded by Cheveldayoff for making a significant impact in the dressing room.
The offseason was quiet until draft night (where activity is compulsory) when the Jets used their ninth-overall selection on Halifax left winger Nikolaj Ehlers.
With the benefit of playing alongside Jonathan Drouin, Ehlers, a Danish national, scored 104 points in 63 games as a rookie in Halifax. A steep drop off lies underneath Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd on the Jets' left wing depth chart, suggesting Ehlers has a strong case to start the season with the big club.
After maintaining the services of Chris Thornburn with a three-year, $3.6-million pact, the Jets agreed to terms with their signature free-agent acquisition, Mathieu Perreault. The former Anaheim Ducks center, who was supplanted by Ryan Kesler on draft day, was lured north with three-year deal worth $9-million.
Leveraged by arguably his best season as a professional (15 goals, 42 points, plus-8 rating, 52.9 Corsi For percentage), Michael Frolik avoided arbitration and earned a $3.3-million contract in late July. The 26-year-old will have to prove his worth again after coming away from the bargaining table without the long-term deal the two sides were reportedly negotiating.
But the noise that emanated loudest from Jets land was the trade rumors swirling around multi-faceted forward Evander Kane. Rebuked at 22 with all the talent in the world, Kane can't shake the speculation and appears to be souring on the franchise. For now, and until the end of the 2017-18 season, he remains a Jet (at a manageable $5.25-million AAV), but this situation needs to be rectified, and quick.
F Mathieu Perreault
F Nikolaj Ehlers
F T.J. Galiardi
F Olli Jokinen
F Devin Setoguchi
G Al Montoya
It's difficult to imagine the Jets pushing for the postseason. Paul Maurice will guide them through a full 82-game slate and young stars Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba should continue rounding into form, but management's utter disinterest in improving the make-up of this club suggests the Jets are in the running to obtain another young star - one Connor McDavid.