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


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 “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

Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

Leave a comment

The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
Leave a comment

One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.

Flyers’ Gagner to miss another week after Malone hit

Leave a comment

The nasty blow Sam Gagner took in Monday’s game against Carolina will keep him on the shelf for a little bit.

On Wednesday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said the club expected Gagner to be out around a week with injuries suffered on the hit, delivered by ‘Canes forward Brad Malone (per the Inquirer).

Gagner suffered a fairly significant facial laceration, which forced him from the game entirely. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and, in a corresponding move, the Flyers called up Colin McDonald from the AHL to fill Gagner’s spot on the roster.

This is the second facial injury Gagner’s suffered in recent years. He’d previously had his jaw broken by an errant Zack Kassian high stick, while he was with the Oilers and Kassian the Canucks.

Prior to getting hurt, Gagner had two goals and five points in 18 games, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.

‘It’s absolutely not true’ — Lemieux denies report of ‘big falling out’ with Crosby

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 and Mario Lemieux #66 of the Pittsburgh Penguins share a few words during a break in action against the New Jersey Devils in their NHL opening night game at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 5, 2005 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Devils won 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just hours after Matthew Barnaby went on the radio and said he’d heard that Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux had had a “big falling out,” Lemieux came out and denied it.

“It’s absolutely not true,” said Lemieux, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s silly.”

Today marked the second time in less than two weeks that the Penguins have been forced do some damage control.

Last week, the Penguins insisted that they weren’t actually “mad at each other,” as Evgeni Malkin had put it after a bad loss to New Jersey.

“He did not mean we are mad at each other,” said Crosby. “He meant we are frustrated.”