What Changes Can the Jets Make to Advance From Stanley Cup Champions to First-Round Exits?

Despite being considered a Cup contender during the regular season, the Winnipeg Jets were recently eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive year. What the Jets could do next is known according to Adam Proteau’s answers.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are at a crossroads in their career, but there is another Canadian team that has been a strong regular-season team but is as unimpressive in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They go under the name of Winnipeg Jets. The Jets have not won a single second-round postseason game in the previous six years, and they have only won one first-round game in the previous two seasons before losing in five games. What effects will this have in Winnipeg, then?

At best, the picture is hazy. To begin with, top goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is not leaving. He just agreed to a contract extension worth $59.5 million, which would begin with the 2020–21 campaign. Hellebuyck’s new contract includes a full no-trade clause for the first three years. He did not have a great playoff campaign, finishing with a 5.23 goals-against average and.870 save percentage. Teams would be lined up to get rid of him if Winnipeg had him, but that isn’t the case.

Star center Mark Scheifele also inked a contract extension that was identical to Hellebuyck’s. Scheifele is almost sure returning to Winnipeg for the upcoming season because he has committed to the Jets and could have gotten a better deal if he had gone undrafted. But is it the right moment to see what winger Nik Ehlers, a veteran, may get in a trade? The 28-year-old is entering the last season of his contract after failing to score in the 2024 playoffs. Not that Ehlers is a poor player; nevertheless, something has to give, and it may be argued that his $6 million salary cap burden would be better used in other areas. Would Tyler Bertuzzi, a winger for the Leafs, slot in better among the top six forwards? He would be in that similar cap-hit bracket and offer more grit and spunk than Ehlers does.

Things get less apparent after that. Indeed, the Jets have core players in Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk on defense, and young players Cole Perfetti and Gabe Villardi up front who will probably be around in addition to veterans Kyle Connor, Adam Lowry, and Nino Niederreiter. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will build on a foundation, but interestingly, Winnipeg may be able to move on from a number of soon-to-be UFAs.

For instance, this season’s useful players were forwards Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli, despite their relatively small cap hits. Does Cheveldayoff use that cap room to give the forwards a different look, or does he break the bank to attempt to get them both back? In addition, three defense veterans that are UFAs this summer are Dylan DeMelo, Colin Miller, and Brenden Dillon. Perhaps one or two of them return to Winnipeg, but why not use additional contract room to sign a player like Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce? Pesce will undoubtedly be among the most sought-after blueliners in the UFA market, but there’s a chance he could join Winnipeg if Cheveldayoff can persuade him that the money is competitive and he’s a part of a thriving defense corps.

The first significant alteration is, of course, the retirement of coach Rick Bowness. The roster will be impacted by Bowness’s replacement, thus Jets supporters should anticipate a bench addition before free agency opens. Running it back with the same team that, despite the impending hiring of a new coach, just cannot seem to translate regular-season success into post-season greatness, doesn’t seem appetizing.

Although the Jets are not the only team with this kind of issue, Winnipeg supporters have seen enough of the current squad to conclude that a big roster change is necessary. These days, it comes down to camaraderie, overall depth, and timing your production for the season. The winds of change are blowing through Winnipeg because it is not optimal to stick with the same lineup and hope for better outcomes.

Leave a Comment