While the Winnipeg Jets are coming off an exemplary season in which it reached the Western Conference Finals with a young, talented team, now comes the hard part. The team is full of key restricted free agents which could start taking up what was once an ample amount of cap space. The team has already all but said they don’t intend to re-sign trade deadline acquisition Paul Stastny and for good reason. The team must lock up a number of key players, including all-star goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, Marko Dano, Tucker Poolman, Josh Morrissey, Joseph Morrow, and oh, Jacob Trouba.
Two years ago, the contract negotiations between Trouba and the Jets went south, as Trouba ended up holding out for an entire month of the season before coming back and signing a below-value two-year bridge deal. Now, with Trouba’s stock sky-high as one of the top defensemen on the team, things could get even more dicey, according to Winnipeg Free Press’ Paul Wiecek. Trouba and his agent are expected to ask for about $7MM per year, while the Jets hope to keep it between $5MM and $6MM. The question is whether the Jets can afford to give him a big, long-term contract, considering that his offense isn’t even close to his defense after posting three goals and just 24 points on the year.
The team not only has to lock up these younger players, but must eventually lock up captain Blake Wheeler as well as pay youngster Kyle Connor in one year. The money will start to dry up soon. The scribe suggests the team consider moving Trouba now to save some of that money, considering his value is at a premium. Bringing back a big haul could save the team some cap space and fill some of its holes in one swoop.
- While there was a rumor mentioned by Pierre LeBrun recently about the St. Louis Blues’ interest in Ilya Kovalchuk, NHL.com reports that general manager Doug Armstrong confirmed the team’s interest in the veteran KHL winger. “There’s certainly intrigue there because he’s been such a dominant player internationally and he was a hell of a player when he left [the NHL],” Armstrong said. Kovalchuk, who has played in Russia for the past five seasons is looking for a new home and has already visited the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, while other teams like the Boston Bruins have expressed interest in the 35-year-old veteran, who has tallied 417 goals in 816 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers and the New Jersey Devils.
- Mike Halford of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Vancouver Canucks, who have always been adept at mining organizations to get quality players, need to continue to do that more than ever with the retirement of Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. With a lineup full of holes, the scribe writes that the team needs to continue mining other organizations for their unwanted, forgotten or unfulfilled talent like in previous years. Over the last few years, the team has picked up several key players such as Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Nikolay Goldobin, Derrick Pouliot and Brendan Leipsic. The scribe goes on to point out three players the team should look into during the offseason and pry them away for late picks include Winnipeg’s Nic Petan, Columbus’ Sonny Milano and the New York Islanders’ Michael Dal Colle. All three are on the outside looking in within the organization and might need a franchise to give them a new chance.