2022 Offseason Guide: Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets had a solid outing in 2021-2022, but they can certainly make the playoffs next year. They finished the season with a 39-32-11 record, good for 89 points and 6th in the Central Division. Furthermore, there were 5 teams in the Central who made it to the playoffs, with WPG only missing out by 5 points. What can they do to turn it around next season?
Normally in offseason guides, the team is young, and needs a couple of stars. Winnipeg, well they are the opposite. The Jets’ roster is constructed primarily of veterans – guys like Blake Wheeler (35 years old), Paul Stastny (36 years old) and Brenden Dillon (31 years old) top the age list. Not to say they don’t have young talent like Cole Perfetti and Pierre-Luc Dubois, but they’re just riddled with older guys. Lots of players in the 25-28 range, which can be good for production, but bad if they can’t win soon. Kyle Connor and Scheifele can’t carry this team forever, have to get them some help.
Winnipeg requires a few things this offseason. Firstly, a coach. It was said the other day that Barry Trotz is taking a year off from coaching, and they need someone behind the bench. Who that may be, we will find out soon. In terms of players, they need to resign some guys. One would definitely be Pierre-Luc Dubois, who had a good season for the Jets. He finished with 28 goals and 32 assists for 60 points, not bad for being just 23 years old. He has a lot of room to grow, and playing top 6 minutes will certainly help his campaign to become a piece of the core. Winnipeg should also re-sign is Paul Stastny, who scored 20 goals this past season. Yes, he’s 36, but I’m sure he can be a Corey Perry or Darren Helm type player. His role can be one who helps develop the younger players, while giving solid production in the bottom 6. Next, they need to figure out the defense situation. They acquired Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt this season, hoping for a boost. Instead, they did not work out, and essentially smacked their best 3 defense prospects across the face. If I were GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, I would try to give them (Vinnie Heinola, Declan Chisholm, and Dylan Samberg) a full season in the NHL. You spent a lot of draft capital on them, might as well give them a shot. Also, it saves Winnipeg some cap room with the cheap rookie contracts, allowing them to get more firepower for the top 6.
The cap situation is not bad for the Winnipeg Jets. They have just north of $18 million in the bank, with some players to resign. Some RFA’s that they could potentially sign are Mason Appleton, PLD, Jansen Harkins, and Evgeny Svechnikov. All of these guys can benefit the team. I would give them 2-to-3-year bridge deals, so they can either prove it or lose it. However, you don’t have a ton of time to spend loitering with this team. A lot of the group are in their prime, and Jets fans want to win now. They have the talent, so they just have to execute.
Winnipeg has a lot of draft capital in 2022. They have 2 firsts (one from NYR in the Copp trade, along with a conditional 2nd from STL), a 3rd from CBJ (Laine trade), a 4th, 6th, and 7th. One potential first round prospect I could see them selecting would be Winnipeg Ice F Connor Geekie. Younger brother of SEA G Morgan Geekie, this kid has excellent play making skills, a nice shot, and a big frame. Standing at 6’3 200 lbs, he can be a younger coming of PLD, and could help this team for years to come. He finished with 24 goals and 46 assists for 70 points last season, performing well in the playoffs, as well. The Jets can go in a lot of different directions in this draft, but would love it if Geekie fell to them at pick 14.
All stats in this article come from hockey-reference.com, and all Salary cap notes come from capfriendly.com