Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Minnesota Wild defeated the Winnipeg Jets last night 8-1...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The Wild took advantage by winning big. Things predictably got chippy late, and Jets coach Paul Maurice, who last year unsolicited lauded Mike Yeo to the Winnipeg press for Coach of the Year, voiced his displeasure with Yeo throwing out his best players late in the rout.
“You never get an option in this league,” said Maurice. “You get into those games and you know, they're going to keep putting out good players, like when they've got an 8-1 lead and they've got a power play, the best is coming out. In an exhibition game.”
Maurice, when asked if he had some frustration about how his opponents conducted themselves, said, “No, it was just an honor to be in the same building with them tonight.”
Yeo said he played his big guys late because he was “pretty upset” Anthony Peluso was running around. Peluso was hardly the only one. And it is true that before the Jets started getting into it with guys like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, Yeo was using guys like Brett Bulmer, Tyler Graovac, Erik Haula and Ryan Carter on the power play.
Whatever. It’ll blow over. Or it’ll just add to a brewing rivalry.
more on the game...
Below, watch Paul Maurice post-game...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
- The Bruins have a good trade chip in Malcolm Subban. The third-year pro projects to be an ace, as Tuukka Rask’s successor or elsewhere. But Subban won’t be in the mix if the Bruins are talking trade with Winnipeg regarding Dustin Byfuglien.
The Bruins need help on defense with Dennis Seidenberg out for two months following back surgery. Byfuglien, the dynamic right-shot rover, would help. But the Jets are set in goal long term with Eric Comrie and ex-UMass Lowell puckstopper Connor Hellebuyck in the minors under Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson.
The Jets would want one of the Bruins’ two 2016 first-rounders and help off the roster. Winnipeg has to budget cash for Andrew Ladd (unrestricted), Jacob Trouba (restricted), and Mark Scheifele (restricted), whose deals will expire after this season.
As unique as Byfuglien is, the UFA-to-be is 30 and is seeking what could be his final big contract. Byfuglien would be a good addition for the Bruins as well as any other club, but one that would come at a cost.
- That the Oilers have never ceased chatter about taking the captaincy away from Andrew Ference indicates the move will happen. The ex-Bruin and Edmonton native was a good choice to wear the “C” when the previous management group signed him to a four-year, $13 million contract. But it’s time for the 36-year-old to pass it on to Taylor Hall. Ference is a good employee and will hand it off gracefully, despite the sensitivity of the transition.
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
The Winnipeg Jets haven't even played a game that counts, yet, but they're off to a less-than-stellar start in the public relations department.
It seems in making 278 fans happy by adding new premium seats for this season, they've angered nearly 200 others.
The loge seating added to the upper level has created obstructed views for ticket holders behind the loges.
Tuesday's first pre-season game revealed the problem, and photos sent to the Winnipeg Sun via Twitter scream it out.
“We all just got shocked on Tuesday,” season-ticket holder Jesse Nicholls said in an interview. “As much as I like beer and hot dogs, I'm there to watch the Jets. Which is pretty much impossible.”
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
Speaking to local reporters for the first time since the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks last April, Byfuglien expressed his desire to stick around long-term but conceded the prospect of becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer for the first time in his career was intriguing.
One thing Byfuglien isn't concerned about is his contract talks becoming a potential distraction.
“I have people to take care of that and they're talking,” said Byfuglien, who had 18 goals and 45 points in 69 games last season. “There's beautiful lakes around here. Everything is great. (Becoming a free agent) would be a change. It would be different. No, I would love to stay here and be a Jet for (the rest) of my career, but business is business and I've got to come to the rink and do my job every day.
“There are a few guys (on the Jets) who are telling me to sign, but if it was that easy, it would be done.”
At the end of the day, Byfuglien's focus is on getting out of the gate strong.
“If I get off to a better start, it's only going to help me look better,” said Byfuglien. “I just have to be myself and make sure that we're ready as a team and that we're going to go out there in the same direction we were going last year.”
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.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com