The Jets want Paul Statsny to remain a Jet, but face an uphill battle to make it happen.
There is zero question that both sides seem to be interested in making a deal work. It’s been reported as much over social media the last few weeks that both have expressed interest in making a deal work. Stasnty seemed to enjoy his time with the Jets and the Jets of course have said they want him back.
Paul Stastny says probably the best decision he’s ever made was to waive his no-trade clause and come to the #NHLJets.
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) May 20, 2018
Jets still trying to find a way to keep Paul Stastny. They really like him. Would have to move money to make it happen.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 24, 2018
Quite a few people expected this past weekend at the draft to be the first steps taken by the Jets in order to not only free up some space for pending RFA deals that will see significant contract raises to the likes of Jacob Trouba and Connor Hellebuyck, not to mention Josh Morrissey, Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, Brandon Tanev and Mark Dano.
The Jets at this moment have a shade over 25 million dollars in cap space and only 14 players under contract. If we go by Matt Cane’s Free Agent predictions (which have very much been on the mark so far), then it’s reasonable to expect the group mentioned above could net up to 19 or 20 million alltogether.
(And really, that predicted contract for Trouba at one year for $4.4 mil is very worrisome. If i had to pick between two of them, I’d rather see a long term deal for Trouba than a Stastny extension, but that’s another post for another day)
That would give the Jets about five million or so to spare under the cap and 20 players under contract. In other words, if the Jets don’t make any moves a Stastny deal simply won’t happen no matter how either side expresses a desire for it. The Jets are going to have to make a deal and make it relatively soon – like this week kind of soon.
After John Tavares, Stastny could easily be seen as the second best center available come July 1 and other teams are going to come calling for Paul if not for their own benefit, but to keep him off an already dangerous Winnipeg Jets team. Clubs like Vegas and Colorado have the room that they could offer Stastny an extra million or so on top of whatever the Jets could offer. St. Louis has also expressed an interest in bringing him back.
So, if the Jets do make a move to make room for Paul, who will it be? Here are six players the Jets could make from most to least likely to be gone in order to make room for Stastny (according to my own personal gut feelings which have at times been known to be wrong, so take all this with a heavy dose of salt)
Ok, before I get started I need you all to put down the pitchforks and torches.
I’m not saying he should be traded, far from it really. I’m saying of all the players the Jets have at their disposal, Matty P may be the most likely. If your top two lines are Wheeler/Scheifele/Connor and Laine/Stastny/Ehlers, then you’re left with six more spots for the following six players: Little, Roslovic, Perreault, Armia, Tanev and Lowry.
I think you have to consider Little on the third line (and Ill get to him and the likelihood of him being traded later) and probably Roslovic as well. We’ll slot Armia/Tanev/Lowry into the fourth line.
Perreault on the third line with Little and Roslovic would be fantastic, but that would also mean 10 million dollars worth of salary alone is tied up in your third line which is a tad high. (Strictly as a point of comparison, Washington’s third line of Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller and Brett Connolly only took up 8 million worth in salary.)
You can have a big ticket item (big ticket in the case meaning 4+ million) on the third line, but ideally not two.
Perreault of all the players to be mentioned here may have the most trade value and / or most interest by himself alone from other teams. He’s a very versatile forward who can drive any line he is on. He also has three years left on a very reasonable deal.
The only downside to trading away Perreault is that it would only free up a little over four million in cap space and the Jets have bigger contracts worth looking at.
Ah yes Tyler Myers, aka: “The chosen one” as in chosen by pretty much all Jets fans to be sent packing to free up cap space. For good reason as well as he’s set to make five million this season on the last year of his contract – and unless he wants to take a big pay cut next summer, someone who doesn’t factor into the Jets future.
And on top of that, he likely fits in as the Jets 3rd defensive pairing and having a five million dollar player in that slot is not good.
Problem is, there isn’t but a handful of teams where Myers could feasibly be another team’s third or fourth defenseman, which if you’re an opposing GM and going to trade for him, that is where you’d probably want him lineup wise to help justify taking on that salary.
Otherwise, trading for a player who rightly is a third pairing defenseman just to take salary off the Jets hands is just helping the Jets and if you’re a team in the west, why would you do that?
Jets fans would like to see Myers traded away because he’s at best a third pairing defenseman, the problem is if Jets fans can see that, so can NHL GMs.
Kulikov is an even better option to trade than Myers is, but at this point with the salary he makes and his brutal injury history, the Jets may have to “pay” a team to take him and his $4.3 million dollar salary due to him over the next three seasons off the books by throwing in a young player such as a Jack Roslovic or Andrew Copp, a prospect like Nic Petan or Michael Spacek and or possibly a pick or two.
Kulikov is at best when healthy a third pairing defenseman and like Myers makes too much money for a player slotted in that position. Between the two, that’s a shade under ten million tied up on a defensive third pairing and as you can already guess, that is worse than having ten million tied up on your third forward line.
But a deal to get Kulikov off the books is probably going to be an ugly one for the Jets. It may be worth it to hold on to Stastny, but it may not be a deal the Jets are willing to go through.
A year ago, signing Steve Mason to a two year deal at $4.1 million per seemed like such a shrewd move. Nobody – save for maybe only the man himself – saw the rise of Connor Hellebuyck as a Vezina trophy candidate who is now likely looking at a raise that will put him in the 5-6 million dollar range for salary.
This means the Jets would have anywhere from 10 to 11 million tied up in just their two goalies alone.
What’s worse than ten million tied up on the third line and a little under ten million tied up on your defensive third pairing? You guessed it… ten million tied up between two goalies.
There is a chance the Jets could get a team that needs goaltending help to take on Mason’s contract and hope he has a bounce back season from repeated concussion issues, but again it may be the same situation as what the Jets face with Kulikov. They might need to sweeten the pot with a prospect or two to get it done.
And then beyond that, if the Jets do trade Mason, then would need to look at a legit backup goalie option. Could Michael Hutchinson be worth bringing in again (if he even wants to re-sign with the Jets at this point) or would the Jets have to go the free agent route for a backup and would they be able to find a worthwhile one for around a million? That only brings the overall cap savings to three million or so.
Oh if only we – and more to the point the Jets – knew back in September what we know now.
Before the start of the season Bryan Little seemed like a very capable 2C for the Jets and having been a productive member of the club since the Thrashers years, he was given a reasonable, if not slight overpay contract of 6 years and $5.29 million per season.
Little struggled at times though this season and was streakier than he has been at other points in his career. It was hoped that Little would mesh between Laine and Ehlers but he didn’t. The Jets brought in Stastny at the deadline and we all know what happened next.
At this point it would make sense for the Jets to hold on to Stastny and just ship Little, but Little has a full no movement clause and asking a player to waive that clause not even a full calendar year into it is a bad look for any NHL club.
Plus the Jets still like Little and him as a 3rd line C where he won’t face the tough matchups like he would as a top six forward should make for a much more productive B-Litts.
Jacob Trouba / Dustin Byfuglien
That would be no, and hell no.
Sure, they are options to be traded – trading Buff’s contract would be a huge relief – but you’re talking about a future franchise defenseman and a guy who currently has been the cornerstone of the Jets defense since their arrival in Winnipeg.
They are options, but the return either one of these two net should have to be phenomenal for Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets to even consider.
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