Navigating the Salary Cap is probably one of the more important tasks for any general manager to have. Teams that can avert total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2017-18 season. This will focus more on those players who are integral parts of the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $67,661,666 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
The future looks bright for the Jets, especially with Laine, who is constantly overshadowed by Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews. Laine, who was taken second-overall in last year’s draft, put up phenomenal numbers that make Jets fans believe again in their team. He put up 36 goals in his rookie campaign and added 28 assists for a 64-point season. He should only get better and become the cornerstone of the franchise in the future. He should be joined by Ehlers, who also had a breakout year last year. The 2014 first-round pick had 15 goals in his rookie year, but added to that this past year, putting up 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points.
The team also has high hopes for Connor to make the team and find himself a full-time role this year. The team’s 2015 first-round pick, put up big numbers a couple years ago at the University of Michigan two years ago, then scored 25 goals with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and still managed to get 20 games in with the Jets, where he scored two goals and three assists. The team believes he has a good shot to end up on one of the back two lines. Morrissey, the team’s first-round pick back in 2013, found a full-time role with the Jets last year as he put up six goals and 14 assists. He is currently slated to start on the Jets’ third-line defense.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
D Toby Enstrom ($5.75MM, UFA)
F Bryan Little ($4.7MM, UFA)
D Jacob Trouba ($2.81MM, RFA)
G Connor Hellebuyck ($2.25MM, RFA)
F Shawn Matthias ($2.13MM, UFA)
G Michael Hutchinson ($1.15MM, UFA)
F Adam Lowry ($1.13MM, RFA)
F Joel Armia ($925K, RFA)
F Marko Dano ($850K, RFA)
F Brandon Tanev ($700K, RFA)
F Matt Hendricks ($700K, UFA)
F Michael Sgarbossa ($650K, RFA)
That’s a long list, but most of the players are restricted free agents and should easily be retained. However, the team will have to make some decisions on some key veterans, including Little, who many feel is an underrated forward. The 29-year-old has been with the franchise from the start of his career when they were the Atlanta Thrashers and has scored 184 goals for the franchise. With the team’s large number of young forwards, might they move on from Little in a year? Injuries have plagued little over the past two years as he’s missed 48 games. His 21 goals last year were solid, but he will need to prove his value this year if he wants another long-term deal. Another potential unrestricted free agent would be Enstrom, who will be 33 next year and the team will have to decide whether to keep the veteran blueliner. His offensive numbers dropped into the teens in the last couple of years. Mattias and Hendricks are expendable fill-ins, but valuable veterans to hold that roster together.
The team will be looking to several of their restricted free agent as key players in the future. The team will be looking at Trouba to have a big season this year. The 23-year-old defenseman had a career-high 33 points a year ago and he did that in only 60 games, so many feel he may take his game up a notch this year if he can avoid injuries. Despite Hellebuyck’s down year as they attempted to hand him the starting goaltender job, the team still looks at him as a potential starter that just wasn’t ready to take their reigns last year. His 2.89 GAA in 56 games didn’t get the job done. With Mason coming in, Hellebuyck will have more time to develop as a backup.
The team will be looking for Lowry to continue to develop as well. Lowry had 15 goals last year and the 24-year-old is expected to center the team’s third line. Armia also has bigger expectations this year after putting up 10 goals a year ago. He could also end up as a wing next to Lowry on that third line. Dano could also pick up a full-time role with the Jets this year. The former 2013 first-rounder played 38 games for Winnipeg last year, putting up four goals and seven assists.