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How to spend the Winnipeg Jets 13.6 million in cap space this offseason

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Photo credit:JetsTV
Goose
By Goose
1 month ago
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Unless Kevin Cheveldayoff gets some contracts signed, it looks like he will have $13.6 million to play with come July 1st when NHL free agency opens.
Currently, it appears Brenden Dillon and Tyler Toffoli will not be back with the Jets next season, while it’s looking less and less likely that Sean Monahan will return to the team as well. I haven’t heard anything about Collin Miller but I think we can assume he will not be back as well.
Dylan DeMelo should be back with the Jets next season, although there has been no new information about the right-shot defenseman. DeMelo, 31, is coming off a four-year, $12 million deal. He has been playing on the top pair with Jets’ top defenseman Josh Morrissey.
He and his agent could look at trying to get a Neal Pionk-type contract with the salary cap going up. He plays the second-most minutes on the team and had a very similar season to Pionk offensively. Realistically, I could see something closer to a $4.5 million contract for four years for DeMelo. In a perfect world, it would be a three-year deal, but the Jets can’t risk losing him this summer.
Cole Perfetti, Logan Stanley, and David Gustafsson are all restricted free agents. I could see the three of them eating up $6 million between them. Perfetti to get $3 million, Gustafsson and Stanley to get $1.3 million each.
Perfetti had an up-and-down season where the first half of the year he was looking like a 30-goal scorer, in the back half he fell off a cliff and only got to play in the final game of the playoffs and was benched for the final period and only played 10:56.
Gustafsson has stepped in as a solid fourth liner and 13th forward who is consistent for any team he will play for. Stanley is a solid seventh defenseman for the Jets this upcoming season. Ville Heinola is going to be hungry to get into the lineup considering the injury he sustained last season. $1.3 million for two guys who will be in and out of the lineup next season will be fair deals.
With my best guesstimates, the Jets will have spent $10.1 of their $13.6 million, leaving them with just $3.5 million. The Jets could stretch their money with a buyout. There have been rumblings of Nate Schmidt’s final year of his contract being bought out. It would save the Jets $3.2 million, which is enough to go kick tires on a quality right-handed defender.
I do see a buyout being unlikely as the savings are massive, but do the Jets owners, Mark Chipman and David Thompson, want to spend $4.3 million on dead cap space this season? I doubt it.
There are also the Nikolaj Ehlers rumors that he doesn’t want to extend his contract next season. If the Jets trade Ehlers, that is $6 million being sent out the door.
I assume the Jets will want to stay competitive this season, so they will probably trade the highest-scoring Danish NHL player for either a top-sixer who needs a change of scenery much like Ehlers or maybe a package is done where the Jets can get a top-pairing right-shot defender. Adam Larsson from Seattle would be a great addition to the Jets’ back end.
That’s even if the Jets do trade Ehlers. We all assumed that Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele were not going to be Jets after July 1st this year, but they are locked up in Winnipeg long-term. There could be a chance he sticks around Winnipeg this season and is used as an own rental.
If the Jets can get all of that done, they will need to have about a million dollars to go sign a backup goaltender to sit behind Connor Hellebuyck.
This isn’t a perfect lineup, but this is my best guess and mostly what I want to see for the Jets’ opening night lineups.
Ehlers –  Scheifele- Vilardi
Connor  -Lambert- Perfetti
Niederreiter –  Lowry – Appleton
Barron – Namestnikov-Iafallo
Morrissey -DeMelo
Samberg – Pionk
Hienola -Salomonsson
Hellebuyck
Talbot

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