The blue line always seems to be a hot spot for debate when it comes to the Winnipeg Jets. The forward core squared itself away nicely with big additions in Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, with some nice surprises in Brandon Tanev and more recently Mason Appleton, who’s seamlessly fit into the 4th line with Jack Roslovic. Between the pipes we have a one-two punch in Hellebuyck and Brossoit which has put the goaltender controversy to bed, at least for now.
But what about the defense?
The Jets boast some elite talent on the blue line in Josh Morrissey, Jacob Trouba, and Dustin Byfuglien. All of which have their contracts expiring within the next 3 years. The biggest unknown of this group is certainly Jacob Trouba. Who, for the second time in his young career, has put up a fight with the Jets organization on both his role with the team, and his worth. Issuing a trade request in the summer of 2016 before rescinding the request after signing a 2 year bridge deal later that year; and more recently resorting to a nearly 6 hour long arbitration hearing after failing to come to terms with the Jets on a new contract this past summer. The end result was a one year, 5.5 million dollar contract and the question of his willingness to remain in Winnipeg still lingers.
Josh Morrissey is expected to sign a long term deal to remain in Winnipeg but with the salary cap approaching many wonder how much that contract will cost.
Where does Byfuglien fit into all this? He will be 37 coming off his current 5 year deal, set to expire in 2022. Do the Jets take the risk and sign an aging Byfuglien to an extension or leave more money to lock up Morrissey and/or Trouba for years to come? I think most people, myself included, would expect the latter.
The depth pairings are also a matter of contention. Ben Chiarot, Joe Morrow, and Tyler Myers are all pending UFA’s this summer and Dmitry Kulikov’s contract expires in 2021. The Jets already have some big names on expiring contract in the next three years, namely Laine and Connor. So where do they fit?
I expect the Jets to take some gambles with their defensive prospects in the coming years. Sami Niku sits with one remaining ELC year after this season and Tucker Poolman is locked up until 2022, both of which seem poised to take two full time spots on the roster. Logan Stanley, a first round draft pick from 2016, continues to improve every year. He currently sits on the Moose’s top defensive pairing. Will we see a youth movement on the Jets blue line in the next two years?
Jets management has some very tough decisions in the coming years, all leading up to yet another expansion draft with Seattle entering the league in 2021/2022.
JetsNation, today’s WWYDW is all about the blue line. This season’s group seems to be taken care of, so how should the Jets move forward with the defense in the next few years?