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A look back at the Winnipeg Jets off-season in 2023

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Photo credit:© Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Colby Barlow. Those names should all be familiar to Jets fans, as they were just a few of the players involved in the Winnipeg Jets 2023 off-season. With the Florida Panthers now just 2 wins away from winning the Stanley Cup, the 2024 off-season is almost underway. Today, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the Winnipeg Jets off-season in 2023, because you may have forgot some of the many moves that happened just 1 year ago. From trades, to signings, to buyouts, to draft picks, there was a lot of ground covered by the Jets before they began the 2023-24 season. Before what should be a chaotic 2024 off-season, I’ll take you back a year to recap the moves that have led the Jets to be where are they are today, while looking ahead to the 2024-25 season.
Where to begin? Well, I think the move of the summer for the Jets happened just 2 weeks after the Vegas Golden Knights lifted the Stanley Cup, exactly 1 year ago today, on June 13th, 2023. On June 27th, 2023 , the Jets traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings, a trade that made headlines around the league. Some people expected the Jets to trade Dubois for draft capital or young prospects, but instead the Jets made a “hockey trade” which got them 3 players they would use in the 2023-24 season. Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and Gabriel Vilardi all made some sort of impact for the Jets in the 2023-24 season, and these 3 players will look to build off their 1st full season in the organization.
Just 1 day later was the beginning of the 2023 NHL entry draft. The Jets entered the draft with only 5 draft picks, but nonetheless were looking to add to their prospect group. Their 1st round, 18th overall selection was Colby Barlow out of the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL. Barlow looks to be progressing towards a future in the NHL in a few years time, and debuted for the Manitoba Moose for 3 games at the end of the 2023-24 season. As for what the other draft picks did in 2023-24? 3rd round pick Zach Nehring debuted in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede, and 5th round pick Jacob Julien almost won the Memorial Cup with the OHL’s London Knights. Thomas Milic, another 5th round pick and a goaltender, made his pro debut split between the Norfolk Admirals in the ECHL and the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. The Jets final pick, in round 7, was Connor Levis, who had a successful season in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Vancouver Giants, before playing 2 games for the Manitoba Moose at the end of the season.
Again, just 1 day later, after the conclusion of the 2023 draft, the Jets made 1 big final move before free agency began. Blake Wheeler was bought out of his final year of his 5 year contract with the Jets. It was a tough move to make, as the 37-year old former Captain was the Jets longest tenured player, but it was a move that had to be made at that time for various reasons. Wheeler went on to play for the New York Rangers in the 2023-24 season, and will look to hit the free agent market on July 1st.
Last but not least, perhaps the biggest day of the off-season, July 1st, which is the beginning of the free agency signing frenzy. The Jets, just like this coming off-season, have a lot of moves to make, and last year Cheveldayoff made various moves to bring back players or add new additions to the team. The Jets added 2 goaltenders, Laurent Brossoit and Collin Delia on 1 year deals, both of which will likely hit the open market this off-season. The other main signing to note on July 1st was the re-signing of Vladislav Namestnikov on a 2 year, 2 million per year deal, who had an overall solid 2023-24 season.
There were a couple other necessary moves that were made by the Jets in the 2023 off-season before training camp got underway. Dylan Samberg, a pending restricted free agent at the time, was resigned for 2 years, 1.4 million per year. After a productive 2023-24 season, Samberg looks to step up into a bigger role next season, and looks to be one of the Jets that could have some noticeable improvements in the coming seasons. The Jets also had some minor departures in the 2023 off-season, including David Rittich, Kevin Stenlund, and Sam Gagner. The final notable move of the 2023 Jets off-season was the big annoucement that Adam Lowry was being named the new Jets captain.
That did it for most of the 2023 off-season moves for the Jets, and fast forward 10+ months later and we are here today getting ready for the 2024 off-season. The 2023 off-season was relatively busy for the Jets, but the moves ended up being successful as the team took a big step forward with a 52 win season. The 2024 off-season promises to be even busier for the Jets, with many questions to be answered, all while trying to keep the team just as competitive for the 2024-25 season. Only time will tell what will happen this off-season, but get ready, because in around 2 weeks time moves will start going down, and I’ll be here at Jets Nation with you to cover all of the latest from your Winnipeg Jets.

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