January 04 2013 11:54AM
For the most part, the lockout has been a complete bore. Forget for a second that we're being deprived of professional hockey because of it. The coverage itself has been riddled with boring legal and economic mumbo jumbo that most hockey fans didn't sign up for. At this point, I'm sure most people would simply like to know whether a season will be played or not; without having to sift through the rest of the garbage (pardon my French).
But on Wednesday, word came out that a new collective bargaining agreement would provide teams with the luxury of two amnesty buyouts - essentially with the purpose being to provide cap relief - in an attempt to get under the $60 million cap that is set to be imposed for 2013-14.
This revelation has provided food for thought, and given legitimate hockey-related content to consider. Which brings up the question: how would it impact the Winnipeg Jets?
Read Past the Jump for More.
Over at the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle did a fantastic job of compiling all of the cap situations for the 30 NHL clubs in one easy to read table. There are some teams that would find themselves in quite the financial bind with this new salary cap, but as you may have expected, the Winnipeg Jets aren't one of them.
During his short tenure as GM of the Jets, Kevin Cheveldayoff has done an admirable job of protecting himself from, well, himself. He has refrained from handing out any reprehensibly long and lucrative contracts, instead opting to stay patient with the process that's currently underway.
Which isn't to say that the Jets wouldn't benefit from these amnesty buyouts, though. As Cam Charron pointed out at Leafs Nation - while discussing this very topic as it relates to the Leafs, a team in a similar financial situation - this will lead to a much bigger pool of free agents. If you're skeptical, take a look at what happened in the NBA thanks to the amnesty buyout provisions that were put in place. Players with legitimate value wound up signing team-friendly contracts with their new squads.
As things stand right now, the Jets have a measly 6 players under contract through 2014. Who are the realistic in-house options for them to part ways with:
Sorry, wrong Jets organization. They should cut him anyways, though.
Dustin Byfuglien/Tobias Enstrom
Back in October, I wrote about the top defensive pairings in the NHL, and unsurprisingly, these two were near the top. What it boils down to is that essentially everything that the Winnipeg Jets do runs through the likes of these two blueliners, and they need it to stay that way if they're to make the transition to the next level as a team.
Byfuglien's weight will always be a concern, but thus far, it has yet to impact his play. Could the unnecessary beating his joints take ultimately lead his body to prematurely break down? Sure. But at $5.2 million per season, I think it's worth the gamble. Heck, Dennis Wideman is making more money. Defensemen are expensive commodities.
21-year old 30-goal scorers don't grow on trees. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how asinine it would be for the Jets to panic-trade Evander Kane because of his off-ice shenanigans. He is one of only 63 players in NHL history to score 30 goals in a season before the age of 21, and one of only 30 players in the entire league to do so last year. The Jets aren't letting him walk.
Forgetting the intangibles - like the heart and leadership - that we can't actually prove are present, I really like Andrew Ladd as a hockey player. Since coming to the Thrashers/Jets organization after a cap crunch forced the Blackhawks to move him, he has elevated his offensive game, showcasing a propensity for finding the back of the net that I wasn't sure he had.
Two years ago, he was charged with facing the toughest competition for the Thrashers, yet he was still their most effective forward at driving play in the right direction. He was put in a more offensively-oriented role last season, and he didn't really let down. He began to put the puck on net far more frequently (265 shots on goal), wound up leading the team once again with a Corsi Relative of 17.1.
He also brings a championship pedigree to the table, having two Stanley Cup championships to his name. And that is especially important on a team that boasts as much youth as the Jets do. He only costs the Jets $4.4 million a year, and his contract expires just after he hits his early 30s.
All of that is to say that he isn't going anywhere, either.
As a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, I've come to appreciate the players that do the dirty work. Players like Manny Malhotra and Max Lapierre will never get the attention that the guys who put the puck in the net do, but they're just as valuable.
And Slater is that type of player for the Jets. He was a part of a formidable trio with Chris Thorburn and the (recently departed) Tanner Glass - the G.S.T. line - last season. He routinely played against the other team's very best, and started just 28.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
I doubt the Jets are finding anyone better for the role that he fills, for less than $1.6 million on the open market.
I saved Pavelec for last, because I think the best case for an amnesty buyout on the Winnipeg Jets can be made for him.
Yes, the Jets just signed him to a 5-year extension this past summer. But they have to be feeling at least some semblance of buyer's remorse at this point. Since they gave him $19.5 million, he has gone on to put together the not-so-stellar combination of being charged with a DUI, and being cut from his Czech team.
Factor in what we know about the goaltending position - it's random, and you shouldn't be investing too much in it - and Ondrej Pavelec is the best bet for a buyout by the Winnipeg Jets.