After the Winnipeg Jets announced a three-year extension with their long-time General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff this morning, Cheveldayoff spoke to the media to address the state of the Jets, including the status of of star forward Mark Scheifele. Cheveldayoff clarified that Scheifele has not asked for a trade, but mentioned that he was yet to have his exit interview with the forward and would be doing that later today, hoping to find some clarity (link). Recall yesterday, Scheifele himself spoke to the media, who questioned him on his future in Winnipeg. Scheifele reiterated his desire to stay in Winnipeg, but cautioned “I just have to know where this team is going and what the direction is.”
It’s not clear yet if Cheveldayoff and Scheifele did meet today, and if so, what the result of their conversation was, but the idea of the Jets trading their first ever draft pick is nothing short of noteworthy, and an intriguing proposal at that. The way Scheifele’s comments have been worded would make it sound as though he is set to become a UFA, however he is signed through 2023-24 at a very reasonable $6.125MM per season. Though Winnipeg is under no obligation to trade Scheifele if he does not see eye-to-eye with their future plans, if he does decide to move on from the team, it might be in their best interest to try to trade him with two seasons left on a very team-friendly contract than to see how the next two seasons play out.
After several playoff runs that ultimately did not yield a Stanley Cup, the Jets found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture for the first time since 2016-17 (excluding a loss in the 2020 Qualifying Round), and appear poised to make a few significant moves this offseason. The organization did find itself making changes already this season, with former Head Coach Paul Maurice stepping aside from his duties in December, and longtime Jets forward Andrew Copp being traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline.
Though changes are expected, the nature of that approach is up in the air, which appears to be Scheifele’s primary concern. On one hand, the Jets have had a successful run since the start of the 2017-18 season and have a roster full of stars including Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Morrissey, and former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck. They also have a promising group of young players and prospects, headlined by Cole Perfetti, Ville Heinola, and Chaz Lucius. There appears to be plenty of reason to continue this build while making some tweaks to get the group back on track next season.
On the other hand, this Jets core struggled this season and lost Copp. Wheeler, the team’s captain, will be 36 on opening night, Dubois is a RFA this offseason, and Scheifele and Hellebuyck are set to become UFAs after the 2023-24 season. With Connor and Morrissey signed long-term, and the team having a couple of assets in Scheifele and Hellebuyck that they can turn into draft picks and prospects to add to their already existing stockpile, a rebuild, whether quick or drawn out, could be a realistic option without completely ignoring the prime of Connor and Morrissey’s careers.
Turning the attention back to Scheifele, the interest in him should be expected to be nearly league-wide. Considering Scheifele’s affordable cap-hit for two more years and his year-to-year production, any team looking to improve right now would be in on him. Scheifele does have a modified no-trade clause, which permits him to submit a list of 10 teams he cannot be traded to, but that should still leave Winnipeg with an expansive market from which they can draw bids on their star player, maximizing their return.
Ultimately, the direction the franchise chooses to take could dictate what happens not only with Scheifele, but with some of their other stars. With the playoffs only beginning tonight, they will have a good two-and-a-half months to discuss their intentions and decide how they want to proceed.
Dream No. 2 center for Rangers. Don’t know if they would have the pieces to get him in a trade but I’d at least call and ask if I’m Drury.
Scheifele is a legit top tier 1C.
So who could the Rangers move salary wise to get him at center?
The French kid, + Schneider or Lundkvist
Then they sign Strome to a 2nd line C deal and roll with PLD at #1
“I just have to know where this team is going and what the direction is.”
Well, Mark, we are spinning our wheels because our under performing star lacks commitment. Any other questions?