All is quiet in Jets-land for right now, but we are about 10 days (or less) away from the current NHL season ending and less than 20 away from the first night of the NHL Draft and that’s when all sorts of wheeling and dealing could happen for the local hockey club as General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff needs to start making the puzzle pieces that are the pending UFA and RFA contracts fit into the club for 2018-19 and beyond.
The Jets are not a “budget” team but more to the point, they are a “spend wisely” team that will go close to the cap, but still try to leave themselves a bit of room. With likely big deals for Connor Hellebuyck and Jacob Trouba needing to be done this season while Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor wait in the wings for next summer’s pay day, Cheveldayoff has some work to do to keep his players paid fair market value and still fit them all under the cap.
To do that, it’s very possible that Chevy will have to make a deal or two this summer in an effort to shed a bit of salary. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not like the Jets have to clean off the entire book to make room, but there are a few players with contracts that could make them expendable.
When you talk Jets trades, Myers is always at the top of pretty much everyone’s list. He has one year left at 5.5 million and while numbers would suggest he’s maybe most effective as a third pairing defenseman, most teams and GMs around the league would consider him a solid top four d-man. He rebounded nicely from a disaster of a 2017-18 season to post six goals and 36 points – the highest amount of points in his career since his rookie season of 2009-10. There will be plenty of teams looking for a Tyler Myers type and the one year left on his deal with a very reasonable cap hit makes his trade value really high this summer – possibly higher than it will be if the Jets waited until the trade deadline in 2019.
When he signed for three years at 13 million last July, it seemed at best a bit of a head-scratcher deal. Kulikov was coming off of an injury filled season the year before and at best he was maybe a third pairing option that would make slightly over four million a season. Fast forward over the season and he still had injury issues that he was dealing with possibly related to his previous back injuries the season before and it’s possible that Paul Maurice felt players like Ben Chiarot and Joe Morrow were better options in the lineup than Kulikov. The last thing the Jets need is a 4.3 million dollar healthy scratch and burying his contract in the minors is not ideal either. There could be a market for Kulikov, but if the Jets can convince a team to take him, they may have to sweeten the pot by throwing in a prospect as well all to just get a pick or two in exchange.
First and foremost, trading Perreault would be a signal that the Jets could be serious about keeping Paul Stastny. Mark Scheifele isn’t going anywhere and the Jets last September signed Bryan Little to a six year deal with a full No Movement Clause part of the first two years of that deal. Perreault is the Swiss-Army Knife of the Jets. You can pretty much put him on any line with any group of players and chances are that line will have solid results with Perreault driving the play. Heck, he made Matt Hendricks look like a capable forward with some offensive upside! Mathieu does have trade value in that he’s a consistent point producer and has a very manageable cap hit (4.125 million) for the next three seasons. At 30 years old as well, he’s starting to look at the back end of his prime years and that production could dip. His contract might look good now, but in 2020-21 it might be a bit much for a team trying to bring in say a Mason Appleton or a Michael Spacek. Trading Perreault would sting a bit, but it could be a wise proactive move.
Seems insane after the playoff run he just had, right? Buff is 33 years old and still has three seasons left at cap hit of 7.6 million and looking past his work in the playoffs, his regular season was “meh” at best. (“Meh” for Byfuglien it should be noted is still pretty good for most NHL defensemen.) His offensive numbers did dip – especially in the goal scoring department – but it was due to a renewed commitment to playing strong defense with less “gamble” in his game. It can maybe be argued that with Trouba and Morrissey as your team’s top defensive pairing, having Buff at 7.6 million as a second pairing defenseman is a bit much, but there is also no question you can pitch him to other GMs around the league as a legit number one defender. It’s super unlikely the Jets trade him now if they ever do, but with his cap hit and Myers and Morrissey needing raises, for the right deal a trade could be done.
What do you think? If you were the GM of the Jets, who would you be willing to trade if anyone? Do you bring everyone back together for one more possible run as a group? It’s possible Cheveldayoff could only do some minor tinkering this summer and wait to make major moves next summer, but would that be ideal?
Let us know what your plans would be in the comments below!