Josh Morrissey

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Jets sign Kulikov to three-year deal

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Winnipeg added some depth on defense to open free agency, agreeing to terms with former Sabres d-man Dmitry Kulikov.

Per TSN, it’s a three-year pact at $4.33 million per.

The deal comes after a disappointing campaign with the Sabres. Not only did Kulikov struggle statistically, finishing minus-26 with just two goals and three assists, he also had trouble staying healthy, appearing in just 47 games.

Despite all that, he generated plenty of interest on the free agent market and generated interest from a dozen teams, according to his agent. Presumably, the hope in Winnipeg is that Kulikov can bounce back, so long as he’s put in a better situation.

Remember, Kulikov is still just 26. And before he was traded to Buffalo a year ago, he’d had a number of respectable seasons with the Florida Panthers.

In Winnipeg, he’ll (presumably) slot in behind the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey, meaning he’ll likely be a bottom-pairing guy.

 

Jets extend Chiarot — two year, $2.8 million

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Winnipeg has retained some of its defensive depth, re-signing Ben Chiarot to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.

It’s a $1.4 million average annual cap hit for the 26-year-old, and a nice pay bump from the $850,000 he was making on his previous deal.

Chiarot had a nice campaign in ’16-17, scoring a career-high 12 points while appearing in 59 games. The season ended on a down note, however, as he suffered an upper-body injury in mid-March and was shut down for the year.

Looking ahead, Chiarot will likely continue to serve in a depth role for the Jets. The club is bringing back nearly all of the same defensemen it had last year, and it’s expected youngster Josh Morrissey will take on an even bigger role.

Jets have had extension talks with Cheveldayoff, none with Maurice

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After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, Winnipeg faces a number of questions this summer.

And many of those questions start at the top.

The future of GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and head coach Paul Maurice are chief among those queries and, during Monday’s end-of-year media availability, both individuals touched on what the future has in store.

Both are heading into the final year of their respective deals. Per the Sun, Cheveldayoff’s had discussions about an extension while Maurice has yet to open similar talks.

Cheveldayoff’s been in charge of the Jets since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Reviews have been mixed. There’s an obvious level of disappointment with just one playoff appearance but, at the same time, the 47-year-old has stockpiled a tremendous amount of young, promising talent, primarily through the draft.

Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey have all come aboard on Cheveldayoff’s watch, and become important pieces. This year also saw the debuts of two highly touted ’15 draftees — Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic — while Eric Comrie, regarded as the team’s potential goalie of the future, also saw his first NHL action.

Other Cheveldayoff picks like Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp and Nic Petan have also graduated to the big club.

As for Maurice, Cheveldayoff said the veteran bench boss has his “full support.”

The 50-year-old has been in charge of the Jets since taking over from Claude Noel in ’13-14 and, like Cheveldayoff, reviews have been mixed. The Jets have been one of the league’s least disciplined teams under Maurice — the Jets took 307 minor penalties this year, fourth-most — and that issue was compounded by an awful penalty kill that finished 26th in the NHL.

But Maurice has also been somewhat undone by lacklustre goaltending, a signature problem of the Cheveldayoff era. Ondrej Pavelec, Al Montoya, Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck were Maurice’s primary options over the last four years, and none really got the job done.

Future’s on display in Winnipeg as Connor, Roslovic recalled

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On Monday, the Jets put the spotlight on their ballyhooed ’15 draft class by bringing up Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic from AHL Manitoba.

Connor, the 17th overall pick, re-joins the club after appearing in 19 games earlier this season. The 20-year-old started out with the Jets after a terrific freshman season at the University of Michigan, but was eventually sent to the Moose for further grooming.

So far, the plan has worked. Connor has 23 goals and 42 point through 49 games.

Roslovic, taken eight spots after Connor, has also played very well in his first professional campaign. After leaving Miami (Ohio) after just one year, he jumped right to the AHL and has 45 points in 61 games.

This marks his first NHL recall.

Should both draw into Tuesday’s game against the Blues, it’ll be a big showcase for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s draft-and-develop model. Connor and Roslovic would join the likes of star rookie Patrik Laine (2nd overall, ’16), Nikolaj Ehlers (ninth overall, ’14), Josh Morrissey (13th overall, ’13), Jacob Trouba (9th overall, ’12) and Mark Scheifele (7th overall, ’11).

Other recent draftees currently making an impact in Winnipeg include Connor Hellebuyck, Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry.

Worth mentioning here that all the guys mentioned are 24 or younger (and that’s without listing two former first-rounders acquired by trade: Marko Dano and Joel Armia). This will end up a disappointing season for the Jets, having failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year, but the future still looks extremely bright.

Bruce Boudreau: ‘We stunk in the first, we better come back in the second — holy crap’

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Those thinking that perhaps Bruce Boudreau would wax poetic about his team’s second period comeback against Winnipeg would be mistaken.

The Minnesota Wild were down 4-0 early in the second period to the Jets before coming all the way back to tie the game before the middle period was up, thanks to four goals in just over 10 minutes.

In the end, the Wild still lost after giving up a third-period goal to Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey and not being able to beat goalie Michael Hutchinson for the equalizer in the final seconds.

Boudreau met with reporters post-game and, well, he wasn’t in any way happy or positive about the developments Sunday. Minnesota has now lost five in a row and eight of 10 games this month, falling out of first place in the Central Division.

Asked about his team’s resiliency, the coach offered this response: “Hey, listen: We stunk in the first period. We better come back in the second. Holy crap. It’s not resiliency. You’re making it sound like we’re good. That’s — I’m done.”

The Wild host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Related: Bruce Boudreau is ‘concerned’ about the way the Wild are playing