Kukla's Korner Hockey
Byfuglien is scheduled to be a UFA on July 1, 2016.
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
... they were swept aside in four first-round games by the Anaheim Ducks last spring, but that’s precisely how things went for the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2014, one year before the team advanced to the Cup final. The circumstances don’t perfectly align, but it’s a comparison worth making given Winnipeg’s trajectory and the increasingly wide-open nature of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With that in mind, the best plan for Winnipeg might be to sit tight and see how the first quarter of the season plays out. If things are coming together, hang on to Byfuglien and see if he can’t help you win a playoff round or two. How nice would that be for a city that hasn’t seen its team on the right side of a handshake line since 1987? Yes, you run the risk he leaves for nothing, but with 21-year-old Trouba, 25-year-old Tyler Myers and prospect Josh Morrissey in the blueline mix, the Jets are positioned to withstand that worst-case scenario.
On the flipside, if watching 20 games reveals goalies Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson aren’t up to the task or sees the return of that nasty injury bug that ripped through the Jets’ defence last year, put Byfuglien on the block and see what you can get. It won’t be as much as you would land right now, but that’s not the end of the world for a team with a sturdy prospect pipeline that’s about to spit out forwards like Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan and the aforementioned Morrissey.
In other words, Winnipeg should do what Byfuglien would: take a little gamble and worry about the next move when you must.
In many ways the Jets would be better off without Byfuglien, especially if they can get a decent return. That, of course, is more easily said than done given his contract status and age (30).
If the Jets won’t — or can’t — move Byfuglien they will either have to sign him to a long-term contract or lose him outright to free agency.
Neither of those options sound very good.
-Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun on Dustin Byfuglien. Read more on this topic from Wyman.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Last season might have been a seminal one for the Winnipeg Jets -- who returned to the playoffs for the first time since moving back to the prairies from Atlanta at the end of the 2011 season -- but a first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks revealed just how much work is ahead for the hard-luck franchise.
That’s where Jacob Trouba comes in. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has painstakingly built a big, fast, physical team, and Trouba is a cornerstone member of a young defensive corps that has a chance to be among the league’s best.
Last season, the Jets finished tied for 10th in goals against per game after years of being a league doormat in that defensive category. Trouba was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft and joined the Jets after a stellar freshman season at the University of Michigan. He made the jump from college hockey almost seamlessly, leading all rookie skaters in average ice time per game in 2013-14 and earning serious consideration for the Calder Trophy despite missing almost a month because of injury. Trouba's absence from the lineup was a factor in the Jets' missing the playoffs that spring.
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
What the Jets ultimately decide to do with Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien is going to have long-lasting ramifications on the direction the franchise takes moving forward.
My view on Byfuglien — who will make $6 million this season and carry a cap hit of $5.2 million — hasn't changed. The expectation is that the Jets will continue to work on a new deal for the blue-liner as well.
For now, let's keep the focus on Ladd, who is coming off a season that saw him produce 24 goals and a career-high 62 points in 81 games.
Ladd's worth has always stretched well beyond the numbers but the impressive part of last season's totals was that he was playing through a sports hernia and not close to full health.
Despite playing through injury, Ladd was tied for 12th in points by a left-winger, even with Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild.
The laundry list of Ladd's strong qualities as a player is a lengthy one, but it's his durability and consistency that are at the top of it....
So what's the hold up?
Ladd will turn 30 in December, so you can be sure he's looking to hit a home run with this deal.
It wouldn't be a surprise if his camp is looking for a seven- or eight-year deal worth north of $6 million per season.
from Tim Campbell of the Winniepeg Free Press,
That's because the Jets, like most clubs, have gone into their off-season mode, when business slows down.
Some fans are anxious there's been no word from the team, other than some talks had been taking place with representatives for captain Andrew Ladd and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who have one season remaining on their contracts.
The duo could become unrestricted free agents next summer. There had been hints of considerable progress in Ladd's case, but there has been no announcement of any deal.
The lack of news in August can generally be put down to summer mode in the world of pro hockey and is not likely cause for stress. The same will not be said around the time training camps open Sept. 17.
Other veteran Jets of 2014-15 remain unsigned. Jim Slater, Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak appear at this point to be excluded from the team's future.
from Patrick Williams at NHL.com,
Here are four reasons for optimism for the Jets:
Paul Maurice factor: Maurice had a long to-do list when he replaced Claude Noel in January 2014. Spotty defensive play, an inability to master Noel's system and a need to upgrade the Jets' fitness levels quickly surfaced as major tasks that Maurice needed to handle.
Maurice used the second half of the 2013-14 season to introduce his system and standards before sending his players home for the offseason with an edict to arrive to training camp in peak physical condition. The Winnipeg dressing room has responded to Maurice's system and personality, and he enjoys a clear mandate from management and his leadership group to guide the Jets.
Commitment to defense: The Jets allowed 204 goals last season, the fewest in an 82-game season in franchise history, and 28.7 shots per game, ninth best in the NHL. That was a significant improvement from the 2013-14 season, when they allowed 30.1 shots per game, 17th in the League.
Opposing coaches repeatedly pointed to the Jets' commitment to responsible defensive play last season. Winnipeg built a reputation as a team able to combine its considerable speed with size, enabling a strong forecheck, physical play and an up-tempo pace that suited Maurice's personnel.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
It helps that the Jets have a decent economy, new building and well-heeled bosses with an appreciation for the long term. “We have an ownership group that is extremely committed to doing things the right way,” Cheveldayoff said. “From Day 1, they’ve viewed drafting and developing as an investment, not as an expense. When you get into the boardroom and start dealing with budgets and things like that, the easiest thing to cut is something you don’t see. You barely see the amateur scouts because they’re on the road all the time and it’s an easy cut. But in that aspect, we’ve never been shortchanged.”
Everything is set for the Jets to have a future full of serious Stanley Cup runs. With a management team that has finally begun to address the present, while keeping an eye to the future, the Jets are on the precipice of something special.
We’re predicting a Stanley Cup in 2019. After all, when you’ve waited as long as Winnipeg has to get your team back, what’s a couple more years to bide your time for the top prize?
added 3:31pm, Winnipeg release is below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
- The Kings still have interest in re-signing UFA blueliner Andrej Sekera and perhaps with the Mike Richards buyout they can find enough cap space to do so. But if not, it’s believed 10 teams have shown interest.
- Drew Stafford's agent Steve Bartlett said Monday morning that he continues to talk with the Winnipeg Jets but doesn’t have a deal done. Stafford was a good fit there as a trade deadline pickup but finding the right parameters to stay put is always a challenge. Still, I hope this one gets done, sometimes the fit is more important than just making as much money as possible. Stafford looks good on that roster.
many more updates during this busy time...
Winnipeg Sun hockey writer Ken Wiebe and sports editor Ted Wyman delved into the issue this week and now present their arguments as to which direction the Jets should take.
Sign Buff to a long-term contract: Wiebe
Finding a way to get Dustin Byfuglien's signature on the dotted line is the best option for the Winnipeg Jets.
After bouncing back and forth between defence and forward during the past two seasons, Byfuglien moved back in December out of necessity and took his game to another level.
Though there were still some lapses, the high-risk element was more under control.
The physical component was much more consistent -- just ask the likes of Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty -- who found themselves on the receiving end of some big hits that ended up on Byfuglien's expansive highlight reel....
Trade Dustin Byfuglien: Wyman
It won’t be an easy decision to make – and it certainly won’t be popular – but the Winnipeg Jets should seriously consider trading Dustin Byfuglien this off-season.
No question, Byfuglien can be a dynamic player, a rarity who can easily shift from defence to forward and back again and a big presence who can dominate physically while making significant contributions on the scoreboard.
But he can also be a liability on the blue-line, as evidenced by Claude Noel’s decision to move him permanently to forward in 2014 and Paul Maurice’s decision to keep him there for the first 26 games of last season.
And then there’s the issue of his contract status, which complicates the matter considerably....
much more from each...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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