The opening of NHL free agency is in the rear view mirror but the Winnipeg Jets still have four key restricted free agents to sign (Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, Neal Pionk). The Jets let Tyler Myers, Brandon Tanev and Ben Chiarot all walk to other teams for more money. The only additions have been depth pieces at best. On this week’s episode the guys break down the frenzy that was July 1st, react to the Jets’ signings, and look at trade potential moving forward.
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(0:31 – July 1st reaction
(13:14) – What’s next for Chevy
(23:39) – Trade potential
The Winnipeg Jets just announced the signing of their recent first round selection to a three year entry level contract. Ville Heinola was selected 20th overall by the club just a few weeks ago at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
#NHLJets have agreed to terms with defenceman Ville Heinola on a three-year, entry-level contract with an average annual value of $1,137,500.
Heinola was selected by the Jets in the first round (20th overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft.
It was a surprising move by the club as most people expected Heinola to stay in Finland for another season where he could build on his success from last season. Although, just because Heinola is signed, doesn’t mean he’s going to be sticking around in North America. In a similar situation last season Kristian Vesalainen decided to move back home and play the rest of the season in the KHL despite being signed to an entry level deal.
Despite being a late round pick, Heinola already has plenty of experience playing against adults. One of the benefits of playing in Europe is being able to jump up to the pro level if needed. Heinola did that last year as a 17 year old and had a remarkable season for an underage player. He had 14 points in only 34 games and finished with the second most points per game among all Liiga defensemen who were under 20 years old.
This strong season in Finland suggests that Heinola might be ready to play in North America as early as next year. He would certainly be able to help the Manitoba Moose roster, and if given a chance, he might be a dark horse candidate to make the Jets roster out of training camp.
Regardless of where Heinola ends up this season, the fact that he signed an entry level contract means that the Jets have fairly high expectations of him going forward. Even if he doesn’t play in North America, signing him is the first step towards getting him on the roster.
It’s important to note that his ELC will slide if he doesn’t play 10 NHL games this year. For now, it doesn’t look like he will play for the Jets, so his three year deal will likely only begin in 2020.
For more reading, check out our draft day post on Heinola’s selection.
You darn skippy Ehlers “could fetch better” which is exactly why the Jets shouldn’t do this deal.
I understand that the right side of the Jets defense doesn’t look ideal right now. It’s Dustin Byfuglien, Sami Niku and Neal Pionk, and it’s a Buff long term injury away from being bad with Luke Green the only other right handed shot d-man in the team’s system that could maybe play in the NHL. It doesn’t look great, but it also doesn’t exactly scream “trade the 23 year old forward with 199 points in 298 career games for a defenseman considered by many to be disappointing and not living up to full potential” does it?
Kevin Cheveldayoff is not that much of an idiot.
(Man, I hope I didn’t just jinx anything there. I mean even his harshest critics have to agree with that statement don’t they? Chevy has made questionable, even bad moves as all NHL General managers do, but he’s not THAT bad, is he?)
Look, I’m not saying that the Jets shouldn’t trade for Rasmus Ristolainen at all. The Jets depth is admittedly shallow when it comes to right handed defensemen so getting one with some NHL experience isn’t exactly a bad idea. I’d be ok with the Jets taking a chance on him much like they are doing with Neal Pionk, but therein lies the issue… They already just traded for a young RHD that has a lot of question marks coming into this season, who hasn’t exactly impressed in his first few NHL seasons and may not be any good at all. Do the Jets really need a second young RHD with the same issues?
Maybe with the right partner and less usage than he had in Buffalo, he wouldn’t be as bad as he has been with the Sabres. There is an argument to be made – as it is with Pionk – that he’s still young enough that he could improve, but if you’re of the mindset that at age 23, what you see with Pionk now is what you get in the future, then Rasmus at 24 should be that even moreso.
If you are of the opinion that at age 23 and 24, Pionk and Ristolainen could and should be better, then Ehlers at the age of 23 is a slam dunk to get better himself and thus a bad idea to trade away, is he not?
(And no, the Jets shouldn’t trade Nik Ehlers for him either.)
I’m not even saying the Jets shouldn’t trade Nik Ehlers! I’d strongly advise against it because it doesn’t seem like a trade the Jets could get fair or equal value for (as others have stated in a complete argument to NOT trade him at all) but I am not 100% against it either depending on the return. Want to offer a bona fide top pairing defenseman for him? I’m all ears.
Wayne Gretzky – arguably the greatest to ever play the game and the all-time leader in goals, assists and points – was traded in his career, TWICE. So anyone can and should be available for trade.
The issue is what kind of value are you going to get in return for trading your dynamic 23 year old winger? It just doesn’t seem like right now the value for Ehlers is that high likely based on the crazy notion that a small sample size of 21 career playoff games where he hasn’t scored a single goal is an indication that he’s somehow not that good, so you’re not going to get a fair return for him.
Sure, trade for Risolainen if you must, trade away Ehlers is you absolutely have to, but Ehlers straight up for Ristolainen? Why on earth would you do that?
I would suggest wpg will be banging on the door to get Ristolainen for maybe Ehlers in a swap of cap hits… https://t.co/SHuhBn3EQr
I would suggest Jim has finally lost his mind (possible since he’s had to cover the Edmonton Oilers) if he thinks Winnipeg would be “banging down the door” to get basically what amounts to the second coming of Tyler Myers, only with less offensive ability at five on five.
For as much talk as Ristolainen gets about being a power play specialist, it’s probably important to remember that the majority of a hockey game is played five on five and it’s there that Ristolainen isn’t overly impressive.
His defensive work? Not any better.
Look at all that red in the slot area in front of the team’s net – and yes it’s maybe even worse without Ristolainen but keep in mind that this is the Buffalo Sabres we’re taking about and as an entire team they were pretty bad defenseively. The point here is Rasmus was right there with the club in being very bad in his own end of the ice.
At best you can say that Rasmus Ristolainen is mediocre and that at times may be generous. What baffles me in this talk that the Jets should trade for him is that the Sabres have smartly traded for Brandon Montour and then this summer picked up Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju (all three of them right handed defensemen by the way) and now suddenly Ristolainen is “expendable” by the freakin Buffalo Sabres who haven’t seen the playoffs in eight seasons, and yet the Jets who are still considered “in the hunt” when it comes to Stanley Cup talk should just offer up a kid who has 90 goals in his first three NHL seasons for Sabres leftovers.
If that last paragraph has an agitated tone to it, it should because I’m seriously wondering if many of you have lost your ever-loving minds. I just don’t get it. Is it because Rasmus is from Finland and he’d fit in with that whole “Finnipeg” thing we’re trying to make a thing? Is it because he’s from Buffalo and because the Jets and Sabres did one high profile trade five years ago, that somehow makes them trade-buddies for life? Is it because he has “Laine” in his last name? Is it because he damn near looks like Tyler Myers and is as tall as him?
Of all the names we heard that were going to be cut at @sportsnet HNIC, Donald S. Cherry was #1. Numerous sources told us that Grapes knew himself last year was his worst ever & with the need to cut costs Paramount we were told he had done his last game. #morepic.twitter.com/TGJTToGt4d
1) I must say I am hurt and disappointed that my friend Steve Simmons would suggest in his Sunday column that Hockey Night in Canada might not want me back for next year. I was told a week after the playoffs I would be back.
Don Cherry is not just a throwback to a bygone era, he’s a reflection of our past hockey selves. He coached and started broadcasting at a time when the terms “trolley tracks” and “keep your head up” were common place over terms like “targeting the head”, while “having your bell rung” was what we all referred to concussions as back in the 1900’s. He is from an era where the Russians were the great enemy and 97% of players in the NHL were from Canada. His ultra-nationalistic bordering on jingoistic views towards anything non-English speaking – including his views of Franco-Canadians – were molded by hostilities in the 70’s and 80’s.
While the rest of us moved on, adjusted and grew out of those tropes, Grapes never really has and it has been somewhat by design.
Even in the 80’s as he begin his TV career, people turned in for the Saturday night hockey, but made sure to stick around during the first intermission – better known as that time where a bulk of advertising is done during the game – to catch seven minutes of the former NHL coach losing his shit over the game, promoting the rock’em sock’em nature of the sport that he ended up turning into a video franchise that spanned 25 some odd yearly videos and DVDs, and most of all sprinkling his appearances with ludicrous statements that would rile up if not outright anger people.
Not that his appearances are or were always negative which also made him must-watch most weekends. He would point out the ridiculousness of plastic being used on shoulder and elbow pads which only added to the dangers of hitting, he was in favor of no-touch icing in order to protect players wiping out against the end boards (or at the very least a variant of it) long before the NHL got wise to it, he’s championed the efforts of Canadian troops and first responders, and while his viewpoints may have been off base at times, no one can deny Cherry is and has always been a proud Canadian in a nation not known for it’s bragging of one’s nationalism – which at least worthy of a little appriciation.
When he took his antics a step too far at times saying the absolute wrong thing, he never seemed to be properly punished or removed from the medium outright. If anything, people just sighed, shrugged their shoulders, said a prayer for his co-host Ron MacLean – who in hindsight was the one tasked with trying to reel in Cherry from going too far and provide some sanity to his segments, but was just as much a willing part of the show more than he was innocent bystander – and then tune in to Coaches Corner the next week to see what outrageous thing Don Cherry would say next.
That formula has worked out well for him even if there has been a switch from us laughing along with him to us laughing at him. As long as we kept tuning in and our eyes kept watching from the final horn of the first period through the Budweiser advertisements and then into Coaches Corner, there has been this feeling that it didn’t matter how silly he came across as long as people watched and advertising dollars rolled in.
But there has also been a growing sentiment among hockey fans that Cherry’s act is well past it’s overdue date and even as a car wreck, he isn’t worth watching anymore. His rant this past season about the Carolina Hurricanes provided a rallying cry for the team and possibly displayed how out of touch he is with today’s attitudes towards showman ship and celebrating the game, but it also brought an unprecedented amount of Canadians distancing themselves from Cherry’s “man of the Canadian hockey people” act and siding with the “Bunch Of Jerks” which was maybe most telling on how people see Don Cherry and in a way Rogers broadcasting of the NHL.
So one can’t blame Rogers – who pays Cherry very handsomely for his gimmick – from thinking twice about bringing him back.
In the end, it will likely be about if they feel their investment in Cherry matches the money they bring in from advertising and nothing else. For all the complaining that a lot of people do about Cherry, his views and comments, if it still attracts eyes to that sponsored seven minute segment, then there is no reason for Sportsnet to ask Cherry to leave.
BREAKING- Just talked to Grapes @CoachsCornerDC on the @simmonssteve mention Rogers thinking of moving on from Coach’s Corner. He says there is “no credence” to it. “I am not leaving.” In fact “I got a call on a Sunday from Bart Yabsley who took over from Scott Moore saying that
If Rogers does decide that Cherry has made his last TV appearance, or that this upcoming season will be his last one where they give him the Bob Cole treatment / retirement tour, it should be celebrated. Celebrated in that he’s had a long, successful career in hockey and will be a lasting touchstone on Canadian and hockey culture, and celebrated in that we are finally moving on from something that was likely past it’s time 15 years ago.
NHL Don Cherry & Ron Maclean Game Intro May 14th, 2018 - YouTube
Jacob Trouba, Ben Chiarot, Tyler Myers. Regardless of what you think about those three players, they each played over 75 games each for the Winnipeg Jets this past season and their departures mean half of the everyday lineup the Jets iced last season is now gone. In their place, the Jets will likely look to Neal Pionk – the defenseman the Jets got back in exchange for Trouba – and hope that the likes of Sami Niku, Tucker Poolman and Nathan Beaulieu are ready to step into bigger roles with the NHL club this coming season or hope that Dmitry Kulikov can have a healthy and productive year – something he hasn’t been able to do since the 2015-16 season in Florida.
There is a chance the Jets could still land a free agent defenseman, but the pickings for a quality defenseman that won’t end up at best being a risky contract to take on are slim. There of course is Jake Gardiner still available, but his contract demands may be too rich for a Jets team that already has one defenseman with a history of injury question marks and after that the available talent drops off significantly. Think Luca Sbisa, Brooks Orpik and Ben Lovejoy.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could pull the trigger on a trade to bring in some defenseive help. Those pesky rumors that the team could be shopping Nik Ehlers still float around and if trading Ehlers is still an option on the table (and we’re on record as saying it shouldn’t be, but nevertheless) then one would hope Cheveldayoff can get fair value for him and a bonafide top four defenseman.
There are still two months left of Summer until the start of training camp and the roster is by no means established in stone just yet, but at this point we want to ask you about the state of the Winnipeg Jets defense.
So in today’s What Would You Do Wednesday (being asked on a Thursday) question, we want to know: What would you as Jets GM do to help the defensive lineup? Conversely, if there are no changes in the roster to be made and you’re deciding to roll with the seven players the Jets have now – Byfuglien, Pionk, Morrissey Niku, Beaulieu, Poolman and Kulikov – then how would you have them line up come October when the puck drops on a new season?
Let us know your thoughts and what trades you’d make in the comments below or on either our Twitter feed or Facebook page! As always, we’re going to go over some of the best and/or most thoughtful replies next week.
The Winnipeg Jets missed out on winning the Central Division this past season by the slimmest of margins, as the Nashville Predators finished one point ahead of both them and the St. Louis Blues. The result was a first-round playoff matchup with the Blues, who beat the Jets in six games en route to their first-ever Stanley Cup title.
Winnipeg now hopes to put together a better season in 2019-20, which may be tough considering some key players are gone from last year’s squad, with sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com listing the team at +1600 (bet $100 to win $1600) on the latest Stanley Cup odds.
The Jets had acquired center Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline but then dealt him to the Philadelphia Flyers early in the offseason, knowing that they did not have much of a chance to re-sign him. They later traded defenseman Jacob Trouba to the Rangers leading up to the NHL Draft, as the former No. 9 overall pick was used to pick up the 20th overall pick along with fellow defenseman Neal Pionk.
Free agent defenseman Tyler Myers, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 229 pounds, also signed a five-year deal worth $30 million with the Vancouver Canucks, further decimating a blue line that struggled to replicate its performance from 2017-18 when goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
Re-signing restricted free agent wingers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor remains Winnipeg’s biggest priority, as the team tries to avoid taking another step back on the offensive side.
The 21-year-old Laine totalled 50 points (30 goals and 20 assists) last season, his lowest numbers in three years since becoming the second overall pick in 2016. Meanwhile, Connor had a career-high 66 points (34 goals and 32 assists) in his third season after getting selected 17th overall in 2015.
Other teams around the league can sign them to offer sheets like the Montreal Canadiens did with Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes, who matched it to retain his services. The Jets still have a solid core of offensive players and cannot afford to lose either one if they want to make another run at the Stanley Cup and pay out on those NHL odds, so their situation is definitely worth monitoring right now.
Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for analysis on this week’s top games. As well, the OddsShark Computer serves up daily NHL picks for bettors.
Still can’t believe the Canucks signed Tyler Myers to that deal they gave him and I really can’t believe the Penguins gave Brandon Tanev not only a six year deal, but a no movement clause to boot… And unlike a lot of Jets fans, I actually liked both those guys.
We’re not even mid-way through July, so I am trying really hard not to panic – especially when Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets are famous for keeping a tight lipped ship when it comes to contract talks – but I think given the uncertainty around the club the last few months and the fact that we are a little bit over two months away from the opening of training camp, it would be nice to see Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine inked to deals sooner rather than later.
Chicago got the wrong Nylander
I really don’t know if a Dmitry Kulikov buyout is worth it to be honest. Anyone else get the feeling he’s going to be given the Ondrej Pavelec treatment this fall and handed a one way ticket to the AHL? He along with Steve Mason will always be in that “seemed like a good idea at the time” category of signings.
If we have learned but only one thing this summer, it’s that Marc Bergivin proved why GM’s don’t (and really shouldn’t) offer sheet RFA’s
Two seasons ago the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t exist or have any players on their roster and now they are a club fighting to get under the cap. It’s rather remarkable and for as much grief as the Columbus Blue Jackets got for going “all in” at the trade deadline with nothing to really show for it (outside of a stunning upset of the Lightning of course) Vegas has maybe a two year window to win a Cup before handing out mega contracts to the likes of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t start looking like a massive blunder.
Remember the “coolest game on earth” ads that aired in the late 90’s and early 00’s? The NHL would be wise to revisit that and do at least one ad for every team.
Coolest Game on Earth - YouTube
Jacob Trouba hasn’t signed with the New York Rangers yet and his arbitration hearing is set for July 25. I don’t know what point I am making in pointing this out and negotiations are said to be going “amicably” between Trouba and his new club (which when you think of it, is more info than what we know about how negotiations are going between the Jets and their RFA’s) so maybe this isn’t a big deal, but then again with Trouba yet again in a bit of a contract impasse at this point, maybe it is.
Jake Gardiner would look really good in a Jets uniform, and I feel like the longer he goes unsigned, the better a chance Chevy would have to sign him for even just a short – thinking two year – deal which would be possible if one of Laine or Connor go for a bridge deal. He wouldn’t be a proper replacement for Trouba, but suddenly you have a top four of Byfuglien, Morrissey, Niku and Gardiner with Beaulieu, Poolman and Pionk in your fifth and sixth spots and that’s not too bad at all.
Speaking of bridge deals, ideally if you’re the GM of the Jets, Connor is the one you bridge and Laine is the one the Jets should sign long term. Unfortunately I think the agents for both players – Richard Evans and Michael Liut respectively – would like the opposite for their clients. Connor is at a point where his base stats will require a big salary (which he can thank both Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler for in a lot of ways) and he’ll look to lock that in for a good length of time. Laine had an up and down year and while no one questions his shooting, everything else about his game is under scrutiny and thus it would be wise for him to bet on himself, take a smaller bridge deal and look to cash in big time in a few years when those other skills develop.
The five Jets prospects I am most intrigued by for one reason or another: David Gustafsson, Mikhail Bedin, Logan Stanley, Kristian Vesalinen and Harrison Blaisdell. These aren’t my “top five” per say, but the five I am most interested in seeing how they develop.
Last word to John Malloy who sums up the existence of hockey fans in 2019 very well with this one tweet:
The NHL is run by a bunch of complete and total morons. Being a fan = pick one group out of 31 and hope yours fucks up the least. https://t.co/vNid0zWetW
The Arbitration hearing dates for both forward Andrew Copp and, newly acquired, defenseman Neal Pionk have officially been set.
Copp will meet with Jets on July 21st while Pionk’s hearing will happen on July 24th.
Both players represent useful pieces for Winnipeg’s roster heading into next season.
Copp was a fixture within the team’s bottom 6 last season and is coming off a career year that saw him net 11 goals and 25pts.
Pionk, on the other hand, is new to the team after being acquired from the Rangers in the Jacob Trouba trade last month. The 23-year-old defender played 73 games with New York last season, collecting 26pts in the process. He spent the majority of the year paired up with Marc Staal and averaged 21 minutes per game. Considering the team’s current situation, with the departure of Trouba and Tyler Myers, Pionk will be trusted to carry a heavier workload this coming season.
The Jets shouldn’t have a problem getting either player signed. At the moment they are second in the league in available cap-space, with 22 million to spend.
After Copp and Pionk are signed, the team’s focus will shift to getting Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor signed to extensions.
Over the weekend, the Washington Nationals held “Expos Day” as they wore the road uniforms of the 1969 Montreal Expos and had other various nice touches at the Nationals Park including making player announcements in both English and French, having their scoreboard look like a classic 70’s style light board and having Montreal themed food at the concession stands. Heck, they even went all out with the free programs as well as bullpen cart.
Of course it’s 2019 and things like this can’t happen without people complaining about it. Expos fans felt it was a slap in the face to Montreal fans who had to see their team depart to Washington 15 years ago. Nationals fans thought it was a slap in the face that the team even bothered to care about the Expos and not say the Washington Senators who are actually now the Texas Rangers.
But all those people honestly don’t matter. How can they when you see this as part of your Saturday afternoon baseball watching?
Sure it was a bit odd that the Nationals after 15 years of being in D.C. with nary a mention of their Montreal history suddenly broke out the powder blue unis, just like it was odd seeing the Carolina Hurricanes do the same with the old Hartford Whalers gear this past NHL season which also elicited much of the same reaction from gate-keeping fans on both sides.
All of this is to say that I really do feel at some point the Winnipeg Jets should have a Thrashers night. Maybe not right away – as I said, the Nationals took 15 years to have one Expos day and the Hurricanes waited a full 22 years to throw on the old green and white from Hartford – but maybe for the tenth year anniversary season in 2020-21?
Sure you’ll have fans in Winnipeg that will hate the idea of honoring a defunct team in a city that seemingly didn’t care that much about hockey. Sure you’ll have fans in Atlanta angry because somehow trying to remember a team’s past in another city is an insult to that very city. Sure everyone will call it a shameless cash grab to sell merch.
Those are all valid points and as the Hurricanes and Nationals have proved, none of them matter. A cash grab? What the heck do you all think pro-sports is anyway? Consider your cash grabbed the next time you buy a hat or shirt or jersey or shell out over 500 bucks for a pair of seats along the glass for the night.
As former Expo and current Nats broadcaster F.P. Santangelo pointed out during the Expos game on Saturday (and I am paraphrasing here), it’s one day out of 15 years that they’re doing this. If you hate this, no one can really help you because you must hate a lot of things.
Plus I bet a Thrashers night would mean a lot to the players who came up with the team in the move. Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien…
And think for a second how much fun a Thrashers Night would be.
The Thrashers had beautiful blue alternates that eventually because their primary jerseys. The Jets could wear those.
Need music in the stadium? Atlanta has a rich history in music and a wealth of talent – off the top of my head you could play acts like Outkast, Sevendust, Usher, Indigo Girls, Ludacris, Collective Soul, 21 Savage – to make up a great hockey playlist.
Invite noted Thrashers fan Lil Jon to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Granted he’s a Vegas fan now and the Golden Knights would probably find a way to block him from going to Winnipeg, but it’s still worth it to invite him.
Food concession choices? You can’t go wrong with BBQ ribs or fried chicken and waffles and be able to wash it down with a Coke.
For the longest time I’ve wanted the Jets to claim BOTH the history of the previous Winnipeg NHL club and the history of the Thrashers. I admit it’s somewhat of a greedy stance to take, but since no one can seem to agree what the sports teams should and shouldn’t do to honor their former selves in other cities, why not just claim it all? A good first step to such a plan is to have a Thrashers night.
Restricted free agents Neal Pionk and Andrew Copp have both opted for salary arbitration today, as announced by the NHLPA.
Copp played 69 games last year and had 11 goals and 14 assists, bringing his point total to 25. Pionk, who was acquired in the Trouba trade, played top line minutes for the Rangers. He played 73 games and had 6 goals and 20 assists, getting him 26 points for the season. Copp had an AAV of $1,000,000 and Pionk had an AAV of $1,775,000. Both are looking for raises on those numbers.