Being a general manager is no easy task. While the Jets were eliminated several weeks ago, the work never stops for Kevin Cheveldayoff. In reality, the real work begins as soon as the team is eliminated as contracts will need to get signed and pieces will have to get shuffled around. Most fans seem to agree that the Jets are at a cross-roads this summer. With some young guns (Connor, Laine) looking for new deals and some other pieces that are unknowns (Myers, Tanev), nobody is quite sure how this team is going to look come September.
With the recent warm weather during May long weekend, it means summer is right around the corner. We’ll help ease Chevy’s job and provide a checklist of what needs to get done during the busy summer months.
Step one: Solve Trouba once and for all.
By now, everyone is well aware of Trouba’s tenure with the team and what is most likely coming down the road. This is Cheveldayoff’s last chance to sign Trouba to a long term deal. If that isn’t possible, then he will go through arbitration once more before becoming a UFA next summer. Chevy can fix this during the summer by trading Trouba while his value is quite high. This gives Cheveldayoff the most options as he could look to bring in some veteran pieces are try to get back into the first round of a really deep draft.
Once Trouba is solved, the other pieces can begin to fall into place. The reason is that Trouba will be worth a fairly high salary, whether he goes through arbitration or signs a new deal. Either way, the Jets need to know which way it’s going to go if they are going to properly deal with the other contracts this summer.
Step two: Work some magic at the draft.
As mentioned before, this is predicted to be a really deep draft with most of the first round projecting to be really strong NHL players. Even though this is all based on projections, the chances of hitting a great prospect in the second round is significantly less than round one. If Chevy doesn’t make a deal, he will have to be content with missing out on the first round for the second straight year.
In case you missed the analysis earlier, check out Josh’s first post at Jetsnation where he picks two players the Jets should target in round two.
Step three: Sign the important RFA’s.
The Jets currently have eight different players that are RFA’s this summer. These include Laine, Connor, Copp, Trouba, Beaulieu, Morrow, Brossoit, Comrie. While each player is important, the two that stick out are Laine and Connor. The salary cap is going to be tight in the upcoming years, but does that mean Connor or Laine will get a bridge deal? I would argue that bridging either player will just lead to a worse cap situation in two or three years. Ideally, Cheveldayoff can lock up Laine to a long term deal and also get Connor on a team friendly contract. Regardless, both of these players need new contracts and it will hopefully not drag into September or October before a deal is done.
Step four: Get the other RFA’s on cheap contracts.
This is easier said than done as Copp had a fantastic season anchoring the fourth line and Brossoit was fantastic in the backup role. Beaulieu also impressed in his limited time down the stretch as he played with Trouba on the top pairing. The key for Chevy is to get these players on cheap deals for the next season or two. Perhaps Copp can be convinced to take a three or four year deal at a decent AAV? These contracts will be important as it sets most of the cap and will determine how much room there is to land a UFA during free agent frenzy.
Step five: Pick and choose the UFA’s to keep.
Myers might not be a favourite among hardcore fans, but is he worth keeping around if he signs for less money? This gets compounded by the fact that nobody knows what Trouba is doing this year. If both players leave, Byfuglien is the only remaining RHD from this season. Tanev is another polarizing player among fans. His tireless effort every single shift has turned him into a valuable bottom six piece, but is he worth a large raise? Is he going to be offered a richer contract somewhere else? Can Chevy match it? These are all questions that will have to be answered this summer. Chevy can’t re-sign everyone. He will have to pick and choose which guys to keep and which ones to let walk.
Step six: Free Agent Frenzy.
It was mentioned on TSN radio last week that the Jets might be looking to make a big splash in free agency this summer. Specifically, if Trouba is traded and Myers walks, that frees over 11 million dollars for the upcoming season that the Jets could use to land a superstar. It would be foolish of Cheveldayoff not to do his due diligence on the big name players as Erik Karlsson is looking for a new team on July 1. While this is likely not reality, Cheveldayoff will need to go to work and fill out the peripheral spots of the roster with strong, cheap, contracts of players that can help the team.
There are many other things that need to get done this summer as we just skimmed the very tip of the iceberg. However, the big pieces will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. It’s going to be an interesting summer in Winnipeg with Trouba’s saga potentially coming to a close and the Laine’s future getting settled, maybe for seven years or so. So hop in and buckle up, it’s going to be a wild ride over the next several months.