Two of the Jets most promising players are due for a raise this offseason. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba’s entry level contract’s are set to expire and there is lots of decision making to be had with the two restricted free agents. Will the Jets lock both for the long term? What could each player demand with term and dollar? Could one of the two be on it’s way out of Winnipeg?
Let’s break it down.
Number 55 evolved in to a legitimate number one centre during his third season. Scheifele’s career year was highlighted by his explosive second half of the 2015-2016 season. The Kitchener Ontario native scored 39 of his career high 61 points in the second half of the season ( 37 games) including a monstrous March in which Scheifele recorded 19 points in 16 games.
Scheifele was all over the box score night in and night out, even with the flurry of injuries that hit the Jets throughout the year. Scheifele evolved as a game changer in a season that didn’t bring many wins and excitement for Jets fans. When Bryan Little went down with an injury in February, Scheifele filled the void left down the middle and showed that he has become an number one centre in the NHL.
Scheifele’s breakout campaign will only increase his worth as he negotiates his first contract ( not including his non negotiable entry level contract). Scheifele has expressed his interest in being a Jet for the long term and the Jets should make a sizeable effort to give Scheifele his wish.
Scheifele has shown that he is a versatile and reliable two way player. He’s a hard worker and overall a very talented player. He has shown a lot to warrant a big extension, but what will the Jets elect to do? There is a lot of reasons why a long term deal is the best option with Scheifele.
If Scheifele’s production continues up an upward trajectory, a budget team like Winnipeg could have some problems if they signed Scheifele to a two year bridge contract. It’s likely that through the course of a potential bridge deal, Scheifele’s play could improve significantly and at the conclusion of that deal, he’d be due for an even bigger pay raise.
Teams with an internal cap like the Jets can’t afford to take that risk, they should look to sign Scheifele for the foreseeable future. If you are looking for a contract comparable for Scheifele, Florida’s recently signed Alexander Barkov’s contract could be a good starting point in negotiations. Barkov signed a 6 year 35.4 million dollar contract that carries a 5.9 million dollar AAV at the conclusion of his entry level contract.
Barkov and Scheifele’s numbers are rather similar and if Winnipeg can sign Scheifele to a contract in that ballpark, they are in luck. With the cap set to rise in the coming years, getting a player with the potential like Scheifele on a roughly 6 million dollar cap hit could be a steal down the road.
Trouba’s case is a far more complicated one. The Jets have a hefty financial commitment to two right handed defenseman in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers. Myers is Jets property for another 3 years ( 5.5 cap hit) and Byfuglien’s new deal kicks in this year and he’s committed to another 5 years ( 7.6 cap hit ) on the right side. Would the Jets give Trouba a similar deal? That would be one expensive right side defense.
It’s rather unlikely that the thought of trading Byfuglien would even cross the Jets’ front office minds, Myers is the real debate. The Jets may have to decide between Myers and Trouba. Luckily for the Jets they can delay that decision for another two years if they sign Trouba to a bridge deal. As it stands right now, Myers has proven more and at the moment is a more valuable defenseman for the team.
It would not make sense to trade Myers and better yet, it wouldn’t make sense to commit to Trouba for the long term. The Jets should stand firm on a bridge contract in negotiations with Trouba. It doesn’t make sense for the Jets to make such a large and long financial commitment to Trouba at this point in time. Trouba has shown signs of promise and has a high ceiling, but at this stage of his career signing him for 5-7 years doesn’t make sense.
Trouba has played on his opposite side and has been paired with Byfuglien and looked quite comfortable and made an impact. Is it a permanent long term solution? Who knows. But it’s a much better scenario than having Byfuglien, Myers and Trouba all on one side and leaving a gaping hole on the left side defense.
There also is the possibility that the Jets explore the trade market with Jacob Trouba. If contract negotiations hit a stalemate or the Jets get an attractive offer for Trouba, don’t be surprised if Trouba is traded this offseason. If the Jets can find a team that would swap a solid left handed defenseman for the right shot Trouba, they’d take a long and hard look. But the reality is, those kinds of trades don’t come around often.
Would the Jets consider a deal for Trouba that would be centred around a highly talented forward? Certainly they’d consider it but the team is rather set up front and should concentrate on acquiring upgrades for the left side of the blue line.
The Jets should give Trouba a bridge contract. At the conclusion of that deal Myers will be one year away from free agency and the Jets will have more time to make a proper decision between the two.