Winnipeg Jets

Jets partner with ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers

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The Winnipeg Jets will have a new East Coast Hockey League affiliate for the 2015-16 season.

The club announced it has partnered with the Tulsa Oilers for next season. The Jets were affiliated with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign last season, but Ontario is now the AHL affiliate of the L.A. Kings.

“We are pleased to embark on our new partnership with the Tulsa Oilers,” said Jets’ assistant GM Craig Heisinger. “Tulsa is an organization that shares our level of commitment to success and we look forward to working together to provide our players’ opportunities to further develop themselves on and off the ice.”

The Oilers, who have not had an NHL affiliate since partnering with the Colorado Avalanche and Lake Erie Monsters in 2010-11, have a history with Winnipeg. Tulsa served as the Jets’ primary affiliate from 1979-1982.

Jason Christie, who was named the new head coach of the Oilers last Thursday, has strong ties to the Jets organization as well. Christie had two separate stints with the Manitoba Moose during his playing days appearing in 88 games. He was also an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves from 2008-10 under current Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

Most recently Christie served was the head coach of the Ontario Reign – the Jets’ ECHL affiliate since 2013-14.

“We are thrilled to enter into this partnership with the Jets and the Moose,” said Oilers GM Taylor Hall. “Both teams are first-class organizations that share our commitment to winning and not only is this an exciting day for our fans, but it is also an important day for our players who want to continue their development and succeed at the next level.”

In May the Jets announced its new AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, would play at the MTS Centre beginning next season.

PHT Morning Skate: Is St. Louis a Hall of Famer? What about Zubov?

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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.

Rangers beat writer Andrew Gross, who spent the last two seasons covering Martin St. Louis for The Record, says No. 26 should get into the Hockey Hall of Fame, though “perhaps not on the first ballot.” (NorthJersey.com)

“To me the turning point was when Paul got there, and we started to see the turnaround and what we needed to do.” That quote comes courtesy Jets captain Andrew Ladd, in discussing his team’s improvement under head coach Paul Maurice. (NHL.com)

Sports business columnist Geoff Baker breaks down why none of Seattle’s three rumored expansion groups were able to complete the application process. (Seattle Times)

Since we started this with a Hall of Fame debate, why not end with one? ESPN discusses Sergei Zubov’s candidacy. (ESPN)

Report: ‘Nothing more than preliminary discussions’ between Jets, Byfuglien

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Here’s the latest from the Free Press on talks between Winnipeg and d-man Dustin Byfuglien, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next July:

Byfuglien, like [Andrew] Ladd, is also a pending UFA at the send of next season. According to the player’s agent, nothing more than preliminary discussions regarding the big defenseman have taken place.

Ladd is the No. 1 priority and must be the first domino to fall.

It’s expected that Ladd, the team’s captain, will likely get his desired extension (the Free Press figures it’ll be “north of $6 million” annually, and “in the range of $40 million” overall.) At 29 and coming off a career-high 62 points, he’s vitally important to the Jets and looks to be paid accordingly.

Which brings us to Byfuglien.

Though he’s coming off a stellar campaign of his own — 45 points in 69 games, an All-Star nod — Byfuglien plays on one of the NHL’s deepest bluelines. Tyler Myers (25 years old) and Jacob Trouba (21) represent the future, while Tobias Enstrom and Mark Stuart are locked in through 2018. All told, the Jets currently have 10 blueliners on NHL deals — Byfuglien, Myers, Trouba, Enstrom, Stuart, Grant Clitsome, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma and Ben Chiarot — and a pair of bright young prospects in Josh Morrissey and Jan Kostalek on the horizon.

So it’s fair to suggest something has to give.

Byfuglien’s heading into the last of a five-year, $26 million deal that pays $5.2M annually. Though he’s now officially on the wrong side of 30 — he’ll be 31 next March — Byfuglien likely still has high value across the league, and scored a handful of Norris votes this season.

So, the big question: If the Jets can’t afford to pay Byfuglien, especially after the Ladd extension, can they afford to let him hit free agency and lose an asset for nothing? GM Kevin Cheveldayoff already did that this summer with Michael Frolik, who flew the coop to sign in Calgary.

Can’t imagine Chevy wants that to happen again.

Ehrhoff will take another one-year contract: agent

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Despite his brief stay with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is willing to roll the dice on another one-year contract.

Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, told PHT in an email that the 33-year-old unrestricted free agent “doesn’t mind having the flexibility of a single year commitment. He’s confident in his ability to provide a valued role to the right team. If there’s a mutual fit, an extension will likely follow.”

Ehrhoff signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pens last summer, not long after being bought out by the Sabres. After registering just 14 points in 49 games, in addition to suffering multiple concussions, it may be a one-year deal is the most he’ll be able to get anyway. (He’s apparently been give a “clean bill of health.”)

Curran insists “there’s continued serious interest” in both Ehrhoff and another UFA client, forward Jiri Tlusty.

“I would expect the log jam to clear a little once teams have a better handle on signing their remaining RFA players and know how much they have left in the till to spend,” wrote Curran. “Meanwhile, both players are content to remain patient until an appropriate offer hits the table from someone who will obviously be the right fit.”

Related: UFA of the Day: Christian Ehrhoff

Crowded blueline: Jets ink Postma to two-year, $1.775M deal

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Having already re-upped with Adam Pardy and Ben Chiarot this summer, the Jets retained another depth defenseman on Friday by giving Paul Postma a two-year, $1.775 million extension.

The deal, which carries an $887,500 cap hit, comes after Postma appeared in a career-high 42 games last year, averaging 14:08 TOI per night. The 26-year-old was a lineup regular for the first three months of the season, but phased out in the second half of the campaign due to healthy scratches and a lower-body injury.

This extension puts Postma firmly back in the mix, however, and it’s a crowded mix…

Right now, there are 10 blueliners in the fold: Pardy, Chiarot, Postma, Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Mark Stuart, Jay Harrison and Grant Clitsome, who is coming off back surgery. While it’s not surprising to see Winnipeg stockpile bodies — injuries ravaged the defense last year — it’ll be interesting to see if the Jets can carry this many contracts, or if a trade will eventually be orchestrated.

Worth mentioning the Jets also have touted prospect Josh Morrissey, the 13th overall pick in 2013, on the horizon.