Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/14/13 at 08:49 AM ET
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Anybody with spare coffee beans, please ship to MTS Centre, c/o Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Winnipeg GM might be the busiest executive in the business this summer as the Jets enter their third season of post-Thrasherdom.
Cheveldayoff will have to figure out what to do with five significant restricted free agents: ex-Bruin Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, and Eric Tangradi. All filed for arbitration on Wednesday. It is the highest number from one team in the NHL.
This is the third time Wheeler has filed for arbitration. The first was with the Bruins, when he was awarded a one-year, $2.2 million contract. Wheeler and the Jets agreed on a two-year, $5.1 million extension prior to his second hearing.
Wheeler and Little, his center, will score big raises via arbitration or negotiation. Wheeler scored 19 goals and had 22 assists last season. Little scored seven goals and had 25 assists. Little is coming off a three-year, $7.15 million contract.
Bogosian is also due a bump. He trailed only Dustin Byfuglien in average ice time on the team last season. The 22-year-old, picked third overall behind Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty in 2008, projects to be a first-pairing defenseman.
The Jets have space to accommodate all their RFAs. They will not be cheap. Cheveldayoff may have no choice but to open up the checkbook. The Jets must build from within or via trade. Players do not have Winnipeg atop their preferred destinations because of the weather and yet-to-develop winning culture. If they’re competing against teams in more temperate locations, the Jets must pay a premium, which is unwise from a cap perspective.
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