Winnipeg Jets

Leafs file for arbitration on Bernier, contract talks ongoing

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The latest between RFA goalie Jonathan Bernier and the Toronto Maple Leafs, per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

Bernier, 26, just wrapped a two-year, $5.8 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $2.9M. In case you’re wondering about the differences between team- and player-elected arbitration — aside from the obvious — a few things to pass along:

• A player can only be subjected to team-elected arbitration once in his career. A player can elect arbitration himself as many times as possible, so long as a qualifying offer has been made.

• Players can still receive offer sheets after being subjected to team-elected arbitration (deadline is July 5).

• Team-elected arbitration must be filed within 48 hours of the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.

For historical context, three players were subjected to team-elected arbitration last summer:

• Michael Frolik, Winnipeg. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $3.3 million deal before the hearing.

• Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado. The two sides agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal before the hearing.

• Vladimir Sobotka, St. Louis. Arbitrator awarded Sobotka a one-year, $2.725 million deal. Sobotka then proceeded to sign in the KHL.

Bernier went 21-28-7 for the Leafs last year, posting a .912 save percentage and 2.87 GAA. His counterpart in goal, James Reimer, is heading into the last of a two-year deal worth $2.3 million annually.

Jets ink d-man Chiarot to two-year, $1.7M extension

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After a solid rookie campaign, Ben Chiarot has re-upped in Winnipeg.

On Thursday, Chiarot agreed to a two-year, $1.7 million extension with the Jets, the club announced. The deal carries an average annual cap hit of $850K, up from the $600K he made annually on his last contract.

The 24-year-old scored eight points in 40 games this year, missing a fairly significant chunk of time to a broken hand. Recalled in December with the Jets facing a rash of injuries on defense, Chiarot impressed enough to become a regular in the rotation, averaging over 17 minutes a night while playing in a pair of playoff games during Winnipeg’s opening-round sweep at the hands of Anaheim.

At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Chiarot’s extension means Winnipeg’s blueline will continue to boast a physical presence, as he’s locked in alongside Dustin Byfuglien (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), Tyler Myers (6-8, 219). Jacob Trouba (6-2, 200) and Mark Stuart (6-2, 213).

Jets re-sign enforcer Anthony Peluso

The Winnipeg Jets announced that Anthony Peluso has agreed to a two-year, $1.35 million contract extension.

The 26-year-old forward had two points and 86 penalty minutes in 49 games with Winnipeg in 2014-15. He was also credited with 100 hits.

He was originally taken by the St. Louis Blues in the sixth round of 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but he was placed on waivers in January 2013 before making his NHL debut. He was claimed by Winnipeg and has gone on to participate in 107 contests with the Jets.

Peluso was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer after completing his old two-year deal worth roughly $1.1 million.

Winnipeg still has a number of restricted free agents left, including defensemen Paul Postma, Keaton Ellerby, and Ben Chiarot.

Slater admits contract talks haven’t ‘picked up’ with Jets

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When you think of the Winnipeg Jets, Jim Slater likely doesn’t come to mind. Heck, track pants might come up in your head sooner than his name.

Even so, he’s the longest tenured member of the team, as his days stretch back to the 2005-06 season when the Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. The unrestricted free agent isn’t sure if his run will come to an end this offseason, as he told the Winnipeg Sun that not a whole lot is happening in general regarding contract talks.

“For me, things haven’t picked up right now,” Slater said last week. “Most teams are waiting for the draft to see and Winnipeg is no different. After the draft and with that window on June 25, we can start talking to other teams. Hopefully on July 1, I’ll have a contract and be playing in the NHL for another couple of years.”

The 32-year-old managed to play a career-high 82 games in the regular season and also appeared in every game during Winnipeg’s “close sweep” at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite being a first-rounder (30th overall in 2002), Slater seems like an energy guy at best at the NHL level.

His efforts have likely been appreciated by the Jets franchise, yet it wouldn’t be outrageous to imagine them moving on in 2015-16. We’ll likely find out around July either way.

With three Stanley Cups in six years, let the ‘dynasty’ debate begin

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CHICAGO — It’s hard to believe now, but in 2007, when John McDonough was named president of the Blackhawks, the franchise had devolved into an afterthought in the Windy City.

Monday at the United Center, right before Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup for the third time in the last six years, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman proclaimed to the fans, “I’d say you have a dynasty.”

Funny what assembling a core of four future Hall of Famers — Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Marian Hossa — can do for a franchise’s fortunes.

Add secondary stars like Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, get a good coach, a smart general manager, draft well, develop well, throw in a little luck, and the result is the first team worthy of the “dynasty” label in the salary-cap era.

“We’ve had to fight through some things, but it was worth every second of it,” said McDonough, speaking to reporters at center ice while the players and their young families celebrated around him.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

“To see these guys mature into young adults, into grown men. Most of our guys when I started here were single. Now there’s babies all over the place.”

There will be those who question whether these Blackhawks are truly a dynasty. They haven’t won four straight Cups, like the Montreal Canadiens did from 1975-79, or the New York Islanders from 1980-83. They haven’t won five in seven years like the 1980s Oilers. Twice in the past six years Chicago has been eliminated in the first round.

When asked to weigh in on the dynasty debate, Kane replied, “I don’t know what that means. We’ve got three in six years. I know that’s pretty good.”

Similarly, general manager Stan Bowman deferred to others.

“I don’t think that’s really for me to say,” he said. “That’s really for other people to make those proclamations. All I know is that we’ve got an amazing group here, they’ve accomplished a lot together, and I’m really proud of the effort they’ve given year after year. It doesn’t always go your way, but they’ve accomplished quite a bit and we’re not finished.”

Bowman has another tough summer ahead. The Blackhawks won’t be back in their entirety next season. Some will be forced out due to the salary cap. That’s the “reality” of the situation, as Johnny Oduya put it. That reality is why the likes of Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, and Antti Niemi are playing elsewhere now.

“I think we’re going to enjoy this one for a bit,” said Bowman. “I’ve been thinking of that stuff for a long time. It’s not like it’s going to surprise me. We’ll make it work. We’ve got a plan in place. That’s really for another day. Right now we’re pretty thrilled with this whole scene in here.”

Fair enough.

A decade ago, the Blackhawks were playing games before a half-empty arena, an Original Six franchise ignored.

Monday, they kicked off one of the great sports celebrations in this city’s history.

They deserve to enjoy it.