Now, I am in no means writing off the Jets of this season. Not in the least. I still fully expect a Cup run – and victory – over the Canucks. I can see Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien sharing the Conn Smythe – a first! – in late June, on home ice in Game 6, because, let’s face it, they won’t have home ice advantage. The headlines will read "Giant effort from Little", "Big Shift Dustin time for Byfuglien" and "Jets soar to Cup Win, Pigs remain flightless; Vancouver Riots again". Or something like that. Whatever the headlines, know they will contain puns.
Should somehow my prophecy fail to come to life, I’m at peace with the fact that the Jets currently look like a lottery team. That’s one of the best things about Sports Fandom – the magical existence of ‘next year’. It’s a wonderful premise that allows for indefinite hope. Is your team not playing up to snuff? No worries, because you just know next year is when it all comes together, at last.
I mean, hot damn, would I ever be happy with any of Jones, Mackinnon, Drouin or Barkov ending up a Jet. That would be some serious talent coming the Jets way. Combine any one of them with Trouba, Scheifele, Kane and Bogosian – that there is a mighty core. A very mighy core. Add to that the long-term contracts of Enstrom, Ladd, Byfuglien, plus the potential of Ondrej Pavelec not becoming a long-term liability, and I think it’s clear that the Jets would have something to reckon with in the not so distant future.
So as we near March, with the Jets currently 1 point out of 30th in the League, I find it comforting to look ahead to the 2013/2014 Jets, and the return to a full 82 game season of Hockey. Here’s the depth chart for next season, based on one-way, NHL contracts – at the moment.
LW C RW
Kane Jokinen –
Ladd – –
– – –
Wright Slater Thorburn
As you can see, there’s a whopping 10 guys under contract, totalling 33.8M in Cap Space. With the Cap set to be at $64.3M next year, there’s over 30.4M left to fill 13 roster spots.
When thinking ahead, we can make a few assumptions. First, we’ll all have flying cars, telepathic communication and of course, sex robots. Secondly, you have to believe the Jets will give Mark Scheifele every chance to stick with the big club; it seems unlikely they’ll send him back for his overage Junior Season.
Let’s pencil him and his cap hit in.
As well, as also discussed here, the Jets have a littany of RFA’s this coming offseason. Bogosian, Wheeler, Little and Burmistrov headline the list that also includes Postma, Redmond, Tangradi, Peluso, and others. If history is any teacher, it seems that Cheveldayoff will do everything in his power to bring back the big pieces, and likely keep some of the remaining RFA’s as well. So, in trying to visualize the Roster next year, using only a stretch of the imagination,
grabbing numbers out my as serious logical deduction, and going over some of the comparables from the article linked above, I’ve gone ahead and re-signed the following guys using other people’s money to the following contracts:
Blake Wheeler – 4yr/18m = 4.5M Caphit
Zach Bogosian – 2yr/7.4M = 3.7M Caphit
Bryan Little – 4yr/14M = 3.5M Caphit
Alex Burmistrov – 2yr/3.6M = 1.8M Caphit
Paul Postma – 2yr/1.9M – 950K Caphit
Zach Redmond – 2yr/2M – 1M Caphit
Eric Tangradi – 1yr/600K
That, plus Scheifele, puts us at an 18 man Roster at a cost of 51.46M, leaving just under 13M left to spend. Now, for fun, I imagine Jacob Trouba could well be on the Jets next year. In fact, let’s sign him to his entry level deal now. Done! And, since I crushed his agent in negotiations, he’s on the team with the same cap hit as Scheifele. I’ve also taken the liberty of accounting for an 800k cap hit for a Backup Goalie – which sounds like it could very well be the name of the Latvian National Team backup goalie, doesn’t it? Anyway, when you add that all up, you get a 20 man roster for a cost of 53.8M, that looks like this:
LW C RW
Kane Jokinen Wheeler
Ladd Little Burmistrov
– Schiefele –
Tangradi Slater Thorburn
That’s not a Roster to sneeze at. And you’re still left with 10.4M to sign 3 forwards. The Jets, however, have yet to spend to the Cap in their brief history, so there’s no reason to speculate that they will now. With a budget this year just north of 57M, it might be safe to think the final number next year would be in the same ballpark, which means no more than a few milliion would be left to fill out the roster.
I think we’d be looking at guys like Peluso, Cormier, Telegin, and a whole wave of fresh blood competing to fill out the extra forward spot, which would leave around 3 Million in Cap space to fill out the 3rd line. I hope they look at the following upcoming UFA’s for said spots:
Kyle Wellwood – The best Jet possession forward, it’d be great to have him back, especially on the wing with Scheifele. He’d help him move the puck in the right direction, and has the hands to help get in the Net. He’s due for a raise – how about 2 years at 5 million?
Pascal Dupuis – If Pittsburgh loses their mind and lets him go, sign the man! At age 33, he’s only making 1.5M/yr. Sign for 2 at the same rate. If you value Cup winners, he’s the man to get.
Mason Raymond – Former Manitoba Moose. Up and down scorer who is dazzling when he puts it all together – blinding speed to boost. Also somewhat invisible at other times. Seems like a guy who could use a new start. I smell perfect fit. ‘Break’ the bank for this guy – 3yrs/8M=2.66MCapHit
Viktor Stalberg – Quality depth forward, could come relatively cheap. Let’s say 1yr/1.8MCaphit
Brad Boyes – His best days are behind him, but maybe on a 2 year deal, he may provide some value to the Jets 3rd line, and could move up the depth chart in an injury pinch. 2yr/4M=2MCaphit
Brett Martin – Just throwing my name out there in case any GM’s are looking for an outside the box signing. I’m a durable Centre with good hands around the net. I’ve been a steady presence for team Light-Colored-Jerseys in pick-up hockey the last couple years, and I can pretty much raise my backhand whenever I want. I’m ready for your phone calls!
There’s always the possibility of trades, even with a hand-sitting GM like Kevin Cheveladayoff. As fellow JetsNation scribe swindle mentions here, the Jets could make a run at Ryan O’Reilly. swindle’s offer includes one of Burmistrov or Bogosian and a 2nd for the Avs effective Centreman. How about both, and a 2nd, for O’Reilly and Stastny? Either way, with all the RFA’s coming up, it’s quite conceievable that we could see some major movement from the Jets for the first time this offseason – if not before.
While the Jets enter March with a fumbling record and inconsistent play, it’s clear that the future is bright for the boys from WInnipeg. It’s even better when you imagine what a lottery pick might do to increase the odds of this becoming something of regular playoff squad, at least, not too far down the line. So enjoy the season, Jets fans, and know, should they not win The Cup this year, great days are not that far away.
Feel free to tell everybody what your version of the 2013/2014 Winnipeg Jets looks like.