Andrew Ladd #16 is congratulated after assisting on the goal by Kyle Wellwood #13 (not pictured) of the Winnipeg Jets during the first period against the Florida Panthers on October 31, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Jets defeated the Panthers 4-3 in a shoot out.
(October 30, 2011 - Source: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images North America)

Jets thinking big after offseason spending spree

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The Winnipeg Jets spent $93 million this offseason retaining three of its key players — defenseman Zach Bogosian and forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.

To be accurate, though, the Jets spent that $93 million in a week.

Over a seven-day span in late July, Winnipeg dropped $23.5 million on Little, $33.6 million on Wheeler and $36 million on Bogosian, locking up the core of a team that — while talented — has yet to make the postseason since moving from Atlanta.

For GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, the decision to retain the trio was an easy one.

“I think you first have to evaluate where your group is,” Cheveldayoff said, as per NHL.com. “You have to show faith in them. You have to try and show some consistency from the ownership group and the organization that you have a plan in mind and stick to it so you’re not changing directions midstream.”

While the Jets aren’t changing midstream, they have altered their makeup heading into a pivotal 2013-14 season — their first in the Western Conference.

Cheveldayoff added depth up front by acquiring Michael Frolik from Chicago and Devin Setoguchi from Minnesota (both in exchange for picks) — at no small price, either. The pair will earn a combined $5.3 million next season, though both are UFAs at the end of the year.

The pair are an interesting fit in Winnipeg.

They fall within the current age of the team’s core (Frolik is 25; Setoguchi is 26) but bring more playoff experience than the likes of Bogosian, Little and Wheeler. Setoguchi has 53 career postseason contests, including a pair of Western Conference finals appearances with San Jose while Frolik has 34, and was a key contributor to Chicago’s 2013 Stanley Cup win.

They also represent a significant shift in how Winnipeg does business.

The Jets spent last season operating at $11 million under the cap. For next season, the club projects to have the league’s 11th-highest payroll — right behind the Rangers — and has made it very clear that ownership was dedicated to investing in a winner.

But will it pay off? Even Cheveldayoff doesn’t know.

“How close are we [to a Cup]? I don’t know — you have to see the product on the ice,” he explained.

“No awards, no trophies, no wins or losses happen in June, July, August and September. The real evaluation process starts when you drop the puck.”

Related: It’s Winnipeg Jets day on PHT

Trotz wasn’t happy with Capitals top line for penalty trouble versus Lightning

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 29:  Head Coach Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Naturally, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz would prefer his top line, which includes star Alex Ovechkin, score goals instead of glide to the penalty box.

On Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ovechkin took two minor penalties, while Nicklas Backstrom had another.

Tampa Bay’s power play struck once in three opportunities, as the Lightning prevailed 2-1 in the shootout.

The Capitals did manage to score — a power play goal from Backstrom — to end their recent goal drought. But the issue of penalties — Ovechkin has a team-leading 10 minor penalties — is something Trotz plans to address.

“I wasn’t happy with that. Our top line took three of the penalties today. They needed to score a power play for us,” he told reporters. “They’ve got to stay out of the box. I need them on the ice. So yeah, we’ll talk about it for sure.”

The Capitals have now lost three in a row.

They sit in the first Wild Card spot in the East, alongside the Lightning, while the Philadelphia Flyers are right there, too.

“From my standpoint, we’ll take a good point on the road. Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t get two. But the effort and the mindset was correct,” said Trotz.

“When you’re not winning, it doesn’t do anything for your confidence.”

Video: Oh, just another spectacular Patrik Laine goal . . .

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Patrik Laine #29, playing his first NHL game, of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates scoring his first NHL goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At top is Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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He’s done it before. He’ll do it again.

Patrik Laine scored another beautiful goal for the Winnipeg Jets, as he beat Carter Hutton with a wrist shot Saturday. But it was how he got into position for the goal that is so much fun to watch.

Laine dished the puck to Bryan Little in the neutral zone, then, after shaking off a St. Louis Blues defender, he knocked the give-and-go pass out of the air and immediately ripped his shot past Hutton.

That’s goal No. 16 for the rookie Laine.

That goal also tied him with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in that category. Not bad — for a rookie.

And then Laine did this in OT, setting up Little for the winner. He can pass, too.

Related:

Video: Laine’s goal was the game-winner (and mind-blower)

Video: Nothing lucky about Laine’s seventh goal of the season

Video: Gudbranson and Martin drop the gloves in spirited scrap

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We asked earlier tonight if the bad blood between the Canucks and Leafs would spill over into tonight’s rematch. It had been pretty tame — unlike what occurred last month.

But there were some fireworks and, as expected following the events of Nov. 5, the combatants were Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson and Maple Leafs tough guy Matt Martin.

The two dropped the gloves for a heavyweight scrap during the second period, with both landing some major shots.

 

Avalanche captain Landeskog (lower-body injury) could make upcoming road trip

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche awaits a face off against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. the Ducks defeated the Avalanche 5-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Placed on injured reserve earlier this week, Gabriel Landeskog may be close to returning to the Colorado Avalanche lineup.

Out with a lower-body injury for the past eight games, including tonight’s home contest against the Dallas Stars, Landeskog reportedly skated briefly with his teammates on Saturday. Head coach Jared Bednar provided more reason for optimism on the condition of the Colorado captain when he spoke to the media.

“He’s been working in the gym the last couple of days,” Bednar told the Denver Post.

“He’s been progressing. He feels better again today. He skated slightly on his own there for a few minutes, and that seemed to go well. I’ve already talked to (trainer Matt Sokolowski) about that. I would expect he’s a guy who’s going to continue to move forward here and probably be on the road trip with us.”

The Avalanche could certainly use their leader in the lineup.

They sit tied for last in the West with the Arizona Coyotes and Bednar, earlier this week, ripped his team for a lack of intensity following a 5-3 loss to Nashville on Tuesday.

The Avalanche begin a four-game road trip on Tuesday, as they face the Predators.