Kevin Cheveldayoff

It’s Winnipeg Jets Day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Winnipeg Jets.

Ahh, the Jets.

It’s been three seasons since they’ve moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg and each of them has ended without a playoff appearance. As the lack of success rolls on, the frustration with the organization is growing in Manitoba. After all, the excitement of having the NHL return to the city has calmed down but the team is treading water.

Their first season in the Western Conference saw the Jets finish with 84 points going 37-35-10 and finishing last in the Central Division and 11th in the West. Their disappointing play cost Claude Noel his job as head coach after going 19-23-5 under him and resulted in Paul Maurice taking over and doing  a bit better going 18-12-5. Of course, it wasn’t all hunky-dory for Maurice either.

Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little had solid seasons leading the team in scoring, but Maurice had his issues with star forward Evander Kane and kept former defenseman Dustin Byfuglien at forward, a move Noel made in an effort to keep his job.

Despite changing positions, Byfuglien still had 20 goals and 56 points. Kane slumped all season though and finished with 19 goals and 41 points. Captain Andrew Ladd was a bright spot as well with 23 goals and 54 points. Mark Scheifele did well in his first full season in the NHL with 13 goals and 34 points in 63 games. Olli Jokinen had a solid season, but will play in Nashville next season.

While the offense was encouraging, goaltending was a major sore spot.

Ondrej Pavelec struggled all season and finished with a .901 save percentage and a goals-against average of 3.01. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has already declared him his No. 1 goalie next season and he could benefit next season from a defensive corps that gains another year together and has a lot of upside.

Rookie Jacob Trouba had an impressive first season in Winnipeg even in spite of suffering a scary injury. If Zach Bogosian can avoid the injury bug, those two along with Tobias Enstrom can team up with Mark Stuart and a hopefully recovered from back surgery Grant Clitsome to make up a solid group on the blue line.

If they keep it together, it’ll put the onus on Pavelec to play to the best of his ability – something he’s struggled to do in Winnipeg after having success in Atlanta.

Offseason recap

While the rest of the Central Division underwent an arms race to commence beating each other’s heads in all season, the Jets essentially stayed out of the fray.

They replaced Olli Jokinen with Mathieu Perreault from the Anaheim Ducks, re-signed Michael Frolik to avoid arbitration, and added T.J. Galiardi. They also re-signed Chris Thorburn to a three-year, $3.6 million contract which was… odd.

The Jets also parted ways with Al Montoya (who signed with Florida) and will go with Michael Hutchinson as the backup goalie to/guy to potentially unseat Pavelec.

The highlight of the Jets’ summer may have come at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia when they selected Halifax winger Nikolaj Ehlers with the ninth overall pick.

PHT Morning Skate: Welcome to trade deadline day

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

It may have felt like yesterday was trade deadline with the number of big names that found new locations, but at 3 p.m. ET today, things will come to a head.

One team that’s not a big fan of deadline day? The Winnipeg Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.  (Winnipeg Free Press)

They may not be fans of it, but word is they could be moving Devin Setoguchi and Chris Thorburn. (WFP)

So just what’s going to happen with Marian Gaborik today? (Columbus Dispatch)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Know who’s been red hot since returning from Sochi? St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund. (Post-Dispatch)

Even after three years, Roberto Luongo never saw yesterday’s trade coming. (The Province)

Ales Hemsky sure looked good last night against Ottawa, didn’t he interested GMs? (Edmonton Journal)

Speaking of the Senators, Jason Spezza was awfully frustrated following the loss to Edmonton. (Senators Extra)

Boston’s Jordan Caron is nervous going into deadline day. (CSNNE.com)

He wasn’t cannibalized, but Russia parted ways with coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. (IIHF.com)

It’s Winnipeg Jets day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Winnipeg Jets.

Solid, yet unspectacular.

That’s the way you could describe how just about everything the Jets have done over the past year. They finished ninth in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the upstart Islanders. The brilliant parts of their team (Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd) are often overshadowed by who struggles (team defense, goaltending, coaching?).

The Jets are a team with hope and with reasons to be optimistic about their future, but many questions remain. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff tried to address some of those issues this summer, but mostly got caught up in retaining his own players.

It’s not quite a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of thing, but in a new division with new rivals they have to hope treading water is OK.

Offseason recap

The Jets managed to spend quite a bit of money this summer, just not in what was an unspectacular free agent crop. They carved out big deals to restricted free agents Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, and Bryan Little. With all the money spent there, the generally frugal Jets are now amongst the league’s biggest spenders.

Who they were able to add to the team they did so through trades. They acquired Michael Frolik from Chicago and Devin Setoguchi from Minnesota for just mid-round draft picks. Meanwhile, young forward Alex Burmistrov packed up his things and headed to the KHL after apparently having issues with coach Claude Noel.

Prospect forwards Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry will each get their chance to show they can be full-time NHL players this year and it would do Winnipeg a world of good to see them make the leap.

Rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba could wind up being a Calder candidate this season. Meanwhile, questions still remain as to how good (or not) goalie Ondrej Pavelec can be.

It could be one of those seasons for the Jets, they just have to hope they can hang with the likes of Chicago, St. Louis, and Minnesota instead of Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina. Gulp?

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Jets GM focused on re-signing key three RFAs

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Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is spending his next two weeks looking to re-sign three key players ahead of arbitration.

Forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler as well as defenseman Zach Bogosian could all wind up taking the team to an arbitrator but as Cheveldayoff tells Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, he wants to make sure it doesn’t go that far.

“Our focus is on trying to come to deals with all of these players,” Cheveldayoff said. “We’ve been fortunate to come to deals with two of them (Eric Tangradi and Paul Postma, who also filed). We’re continuing talking.”

While they did take care of business with those two, the deals they’ll have to work out with the other three will be far more substantial. After all, Wheeler and Little are top-line players and Bogosian is a top-pair defenseman. These deals won’t come cheap.

As for the arbitration schedule, Little’s hearing would be up first on Wednesday, Wheeler on July 29, and Bogosian on August 2. Look at those as the default deadline for each player.

Winnipeg GM has some work left to do

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Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has some work to get done this summer.

The team hasn’t been overly active in free agency and perhaps that’s because they’ve got five key restricted free agents to get signed. Those five, who all filed for arbitration last week, include Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, Bryan Little, Eric Tangradi, and Paul Postma.

Of that bunch, Little and Wheeler are two-thirds of their first line and Bogosian is a top-pair defenseman. Those are some potentially very costly contracts to get worked out. As Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe says, Cheveldayoff has no choice but open up the wallet to make sure these guys are taken care of.

According to CapGeek.com, Winnipeg currently has the second-lowest payroll in the NHL at $45.8 million. Only the Islanders have a lower mark.

Jets owner David Thomson is one of the wealthiest people in North America. These signings will get done but you wonder why things play out like this.