After winning a playoff round last season, the Winnipeg Jets were among the league’s most disappointing teams this season, going 39-32-11, good for 89 points and sixth in the Central division. It was a season full of problems, but one problem the Jets didn’t have was a lack of scorers. Led by Kyle Connor’s 93 points, the Jets had four players hit the 60-point mark. One of those players, Pierre-Luc Dubois, hit the 60-point plateau for the second time in his career and has become the focal point of the Jets offseason. Dubois, 23, was part of the Patrik Laine trade and is now a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Jets have to decide if they want to commit to a long-term contract with Dubois as well as how much to pay him, and Dubois has to decide if Winnipeg is the place he wants to spend the bulk of his prime years. It looks to be a very interesting contract negotiation, but according to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff (via Jeff Marek of Sportsnet) that negotiation process has not begun yet. There’s no major rush as we’re still in early June, but with a potential arbitration date looming, it’s likely that both parties would rather get this done before then.
Beyond that update on Dubois, Cheveldayoff also spoke to Marek about the priorities for this offseason, noting a “need to replenish their prospect pool.” The Jets do have two blue-chip center prospects in Cole Perfetti and Chaz Lucius, but that is seemingly not enough for Cheveldayoff and the Jets. The team’s prospect pool was ranked 11th in the NHL by the Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, (subscription link) and based on these comments it seems Cheveldayoff would like to raise his farm’s ranking into the top-10.
Now, for some other notes from across the NHL:
- Like many Montreal Canadiens, Joel Armia had a season to forget this past year. Armia, who had scored at a 22-goal pace as recently as 2019-20, scored only six goals in 60 games last season and finished with 14 points. Armia’s contract has made him a potential candidate to be traded this offseason, as the Canadiens would clear $3.4MM off their books if they move him. That contract and Armia’s performance was generally believed to be working against Montreal if they chose to shop him, but one thing that could be working in their favor is Armia’s performance at the recent IIHF World Championships. Armia scored five goals and added three assists in ten games and captured the gold medal as a member of Finland’s team. Armia looked rejuvenated after taking a personal leave at the end of the NHL season, and a league source told Jimmy Murphy of Montreal Hockey Now that Armia’s performance at the World Championships has gotten him noticed. That’s far from an indication that a trade is near, but it does indicate that the Canadiens could have an easier time finding a trading partner than they would have had a few months ago.
- Former top prospect Ville Pokka, who was the focal point of the Blackhawks’ return for trading Nick Leddy to the Islanders, never quite made it to the NHL despite being reasonably successful at the AHL level. Pokka played four seasons of North American hockey, scoring 138 points in 289 AHL games. The defenseman looked to be on the cusp of making the NHL in 2015-16, when he scored 45 points as an under-22 AHLer. But that success didn’t translate into an NHL job, and after being traded to the Senators organization Pokka left for the KHL. Now, it seems Pokka’s stint as a starting-caliber KHL defenseman is over. According to Swedish outlet SportExpressen, Pokka will spend next year playing for Farjestad of the SHL, the reigning champions. Pokka is still just 28 years old, so perhaps with success on one of the best teams in the SHL Pokka can earn another crack at making an NHL roster.