Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Many of Winnipeg's core players are in their twenties, in and around their prime years, so while that's reason for optimism, it's also reason for some urgency to take advantage of the kind of production being provided by the likes of Andew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien is an interesting case for the Jets, having shifted from defence to forward part way through last season. While Big Buff is an effective winger, his preference is to play defence, which might make him appealing as a trade candidate for other clubs that are willing to accomodate that desire.
But, if Byfuglien sticks around, the Jets have a quality group of forwards, with potential to be really good if Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele continue to develop. Their defence isn't as strong, overall, without Byfuglien, but Jacob Trouba's strong rookie season was encouraging. Basically, the Jets have a competitive group of skaters. Not great, necessarily, but competitive.
Then, it comes to goaltending, and that appears to be the area that needs fixing, only GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has backed Ondrej Pavelec as the team's starting goaltender going into next season. Maybe that's the stance that a GM has to take with a guy under contract for three more seasons, but his performance has been crippling to the Jets' playoff chances and if he starts 50-plus games again next season, that is a serious roll of the dice that the Jets are taking with a goaltender that has finished with a league average save percentage once in five NHL seasons.
from Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Evander Kane hasn’t exactly snuffed out the trade rumours swirling around him.
In fact, based on an interview he conducted with The Team 1040 radio station in Vancouver, it could be said he doused them with gasoline instead.
The subject of speculation for most of his days as a Winnipeg Jet, and especially leading up to last month’s draft, Kane was asked by the radio station today if he wanted to remain with the team. And his response was very vague.
Here’s the exchange:
Host: Evander do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?
Kane: Well, I think I'm a Winnipeg Jet right now, and, you know, there's been speculation and rumors the three years since I got there. So, you know, we'll see what happens and we'll carry on as if I'm a Winnipeg Jet.
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
The Jets showed improvement under the guidance of Paul Maurice and having a full training camp under the head coach should help with the further implementation of the core principals and values required to help try to snap the string of consecutive seasons without a playoff berth.
However, another critical element for the Jets finally reaching that goal will include an upgrade of the current roster.
With that in mind, here are five storylines to watch:
1) Has Evander Kane played his last game with the Jets?
It’s a question that has been asked numerous times and it’s one that seems to be picking up steam once again. Can Kane be had for the right price? Perhaps, but the price tag is going to be steep, as it should be. Thirty goal scorers that can kill penalties, skate like the wind and play a physical game don’t exactly grow on trees. No, Kane hasn’t reached his potential in three seasons with the Jets, but he hasn’t had the benefit of regular linemates or been given much first-unit power-play time either. I remain of the belief that Kane could become a more consistent game-breaker if used frequently on a line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. However, if Cheveldayoff is blown away by an offer, I could see him pulling the trigger. But Kane — who is under contract for a cap-friendly deal of $5.25 million through 2017-18 — won’t be moved for shock value alone.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
The bottom line on trading Kane, or any member of Cheveldayoff's team, has to be about benefitting the organization. Cheveldayoff isn't going to be offered a roster player of equal value. Teams are going to try to pry Kane away from Winnipeg with packages of picks and prospects.
For a fan base already screaming about the here and now, making a deal for tomorrow would be untenable.
The other side of the equation is maybe we've seen the best of Kane and he's never going to be a consistent 30-goal guy. Under that premise, trading Kane now would seem to be the right move if the return is strong. There's little evidence, however, to suggest Kane won't continue to improve and become a better and more valuable player.
Kane is flawed in that he doesn't see the ice very well and his goal production to date has been inconsistent. He might argue the same can be said of his linemates, and it's true Kane has been forced to play with a bit of a dog's breakfast during his three seasons in Winnipeg. He's also been an infrequent member of the No. 1 power-play unit. If Kane is to grow he needs both more opportunity and higher-quality opportunity.
Moving Kane would be premature. It's time to find out precisely what he is as a player and how far he can grow. Install him as the left wing on the top line.
Cheveldayoff will want to see if Kane can soar with these Jets before booking him on another out of town.
The Colorado Avalanche have elected to take centre Ryan O'Reilly to salary arbitration.
The club had until 5pm et on Sunday to file and has decided to bring the case before a mediator.
O'Reilly made $6.5 million last season in the second year of a back-end-loaded contract.
The deal arose out of an offer sheet O'Reilly signed with the Calgary Flames prior to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL season. The Avalanche decided to match the offer instead of losing O'Reilly's services and as such must now make him a qualifying offer of $6.5 million to retain his rights.
The Winnipeg Jets filed club-elected salary arbitration on restricted free agent Michael Frolik on Sunday.
The club made the decision before the 5pm et deadline on Sunday and decided to go to a mediator.
In his first year with the Jets last season, Frolik scored 15 goals and added 27 assists for 42 points in 81 games.
According to capgeek.com, Frolik made $1.9 million last season with a cap hit of $2.3 million.
If you don't follow CapGeek on Twitter, now would be a good time to do so.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Mike Richards is exactly what the Winnipeg Jets need.
If he hits the market, the Jets will have as strong an opportunity to sign him as any team in the NHL. It’ll be a deal they’ll have to get done.
Richards is a driver, not a follower. He’s a competitor of a different stripe and there are only a handful of players in the NHL with the kind of will he brings to the game.
Put it this way: The Jets have a list of players that opponents look at and say, "we can push him and him and him out of the game." It’s a big factor in the games they lose.
Richards doesn’t get pushed out of games. He does the pushing. He’s smart, he’s a little dirty and he’s been around. He’s no longer a top-six player, but a third-line centre who can draw some growl from a team’s engine.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
So we ask the question: Has the time come for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to change his M.O., with the real National Hockey League trading deadline — i.e., the NHL Draft — just around the corner? He’s got trading chips in his top-10 draft pick; Dustin Byfuglien, who prefers to play defence, while head coach Paul Maurice sees him as a forward; and Evander Kane, who always has us wondering if any position will make him happy, so long as it is in Winnipeg.
Has the time come for some actual wheeling and dealing, to go along with all of that patient development in Manitoba?
“Maybe we’re the team that makes that blockbuster,” Cheveldayoff told Sportsnet this week. “You always have that zest, that desire to see if there’s that elusive deal that can help you. But when you do get on the phone, you quickly find out your counterparts are trying to find that same deal. It is a difficult thing.”
The free agent market used to be building tool.
Today, the July 1 market isn’t nearly as thick with talent as it once was, with everyone signing even their remotely valuable players to longer-termed deals.
from Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Thursday at the league's draft and scouting combine, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff sounded like he's very interested in those discussions.
Now that's not to say the Jets GM is sure he'll soon make a trade but we can tell you at no time did he raise the idea standing pat was a good way to the future.
"After all the review since the season ended, are you in a dealing mood?" was the question Cheveldayoff was asked.
"For all the changes happening in the league, I think there's a strong appetite among teams to want to talk about making changes," he said, noting there are seven new GMs in place. "We are certainly in that mix of talking, to find out if there's a way to trade, whether it's a big asset, a middle asset, whatever asset. You sit and talk to see if there's a chance that something can fit with something you're looking for.
"I think with this year's crop of free agents, you're really starting to see where the trend of locking up players for long term has lessened the number of players that would have otherwise entered free agency.
"And that's leading a lot of teams to think they might have to make a trade to do something, as opposed to simply relying on free agency. Not that we've been huge players in free agency in the past, but I can say it hasn't been for lack of wanting to be."
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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