- While Patrik Laine has struggled considerably with Columbus, Pierre-Luc Dubois hasn’t fit in all that well with the Jets either; his 20 points in 35 games are certainly below the expectations they had for him. Along the way, he has changed position a few times. However, head coach Paul Maurice told reporters, including Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun, that Dubois is being moved back to center for at least the next couple of weeks as they look to get their lines set for the playoffs. Dubois had been on the wing with Blake Wheeler out of the lineup and also started there but with the price that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff paid for him, it’s clear that they envision him as a middleman for the long-term future.
2:50pm: The extension is done and it will keep Lowry in Winnipeg for quite some time. The big center has signed a five-year deal that will carry an average annual value of $3.25MM. Lowry is now signed through the 2025-26 season, matching Kyle Connor for most remaining years among Jets forwards. Pierre LeBrun has the yearly breakdown, noting the deal includes no signing bonuses but does include a modified no-trade clause:
- 2021-22: $2.5MM
- 2022-23: $3.25MM
- 2023-24: $4.5MM
- 2024-25: $3.5MM
- 2025-26: $2.5MM
12:30pm: The Winnipeg Jets have several prominent names scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, perhaps none more important than checking center Adam Lowry. The 28-year-old is coming to the end of a three-year, $8.75MM deal he signed with the Jets in 2018 and would likely draw quite a crowd if he hit the open market. That’s exactly what the Jets are hoping doesn’t happen, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that progress is being made on an extension and things currently look “optimistic.”
Lowry, 28, certainly isn’t the flashiest of players but occupies a key role in the middle of the Jets’ lineup. The 6’5″ center takes the most faceoffs on the team, provides a huge amount of physicality–he leads the team with 132 hits through 44 games–and is a key forward on the team’s 11th-ranked penalty kill. Add in the fact that Lowry is having arguably the best offensive season of his career, with eight goals and 20 points through 44 games, and you get a player that no team would want to lose.
The good thing for the Jets, who already have nearly $57MM committed to the 2021-22 season, is that many of those things don’t end up carrying a ton of weight in contract negotiations, despite being valuable to the team. Lowry isn’t anywhere near the biggest name on the Winnipeg roster and will never lead the team in any scoring category, meaning his cap hit should stay reasonable on a multi-year extension.
Lowry isn’t the only player on the Jets roster heading for unrestricted free agency though. Paul Stastny, Matthieu Perreault, Nate Thompson, Trevor Lewis, Derek Forbort, Tucker Poolman, Laurent Brossoit, and the newly-acquired Jordie Benn are all on expiring deals, meaning this won’t be the last extension decision the team needs to make in the coming months. Add in the looming expansion draft that makes any re-signs even more complicated—the Jets have probably six forwards who will demand protecting if Andrew Copp’s strong play has put him in that group, not leaving much flexibility between names like Lowry and Mason Appleton—and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a lot of work to do, even if the trade deadline has now passed.
In response to the Vancouver Canucks’ recent medical testing (as well as some choice comments from J.T. Miller) the league decided that tonight’s game was not able to be played. Tomorrow’s scheduled match against the Toronto Maple Leafs has also been pushed, with it now being set for Sunday evening. The ripple effect of these changes spread out across the entire North Division (save for the Ottawa Senators), with more than a dozen other schedule alterations announced today.
- Game #697, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 17, is now scheduled for Sunday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #710, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 19, is now scheduled for Tuesday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #726, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #829, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for April 16, is now scheduled for Monday, May 3 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #844, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for May 6, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #593, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 4, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 6 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #526, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for May 11, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. ET
- Game #647, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 3, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #741, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 23, is now scheduled for Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. ET
- Game #673, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 13, is now scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at TBD
- Game #567, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at TBD
- Game #864, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for May 15, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 at TBD
- Game #634, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 16, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 19 at TBD
Tomorrow’s game between the Oilers and Jets has also been pulled up three hours to fill the now-vacant primetime spot on Hockey Night In Canada.
Important to note here is that the North Division schedule now extends through May 19, the last day the NHL had built into their “buffer” before the playoffs are set to begin. Perhaps even more telling is that all those games scheduled past May 15 are between the Canucks and Flames, two teams who could be eliminated from postseason contention at that point.
The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline came and went with relatively little fanfare. Deadline day saw just 17 trades made (a new 8-year low) that involved only 26 players (a new 20-year low). The obvious downside to a quiet deadline is that it’s not very exciting to follow and doesn’t create the same number of stretch run storylines to follow. The upside? With so little news to cover, nothing slipped through the cracks. Insiders, such as Elliotte Friedman, have come out with more “almost-trades” than in most years and they have been compiled below. Enjoy reveling in what could have been:
Nicolas Deslauriers to the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins and Anaheim Ducks came so close on a trade for Deslauriers that an article was published on the topic. Friedman reported that a deal was done, but then backtracked as talks fell apart. Pittsburgh ended up adding experience to their bottom-six from another West Division source, adding Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings.
Jamie Oleksiak to the Edmonton Oilers
In the middle of the deadline day chaos, several pundits reported that Dallas Stars defenseman Oleksiak was on his way to Edmonton. Yet, as time ticked by and there was no announcement, it became clear that a deal had not been completed. Oleksiak had been linked to both Edmonton and the Toronto Maple Leafs but stay put, with the speculation now being the the Stars hope to re-sign him. The Oilers, who also missed out on Patrik Nemeth, ended up finding their stay-at-home defenseman in the New Jersey Devils’ Dmitry Kulikov.
One of the biggest misses of the deadline was the Jets’ failure to add an impact defenseman. Winnipeg did add Jordie Benn late, but that hardly fills their gaping hole in the top-four. In retrospect, the mistake may have been focusing too much on defensemen who weren’t truly available. Friedman believes that the team tried to acquire either Gavrikov or Goligoski, or perhaps even both. Gavrikov would have been a very nice addition for the Jets, but by all accounts the young Columbus Blue Jackets defender was not really for sale. And while the Arizona Coyotes were expected to listen to offers for their expiring contracts, they ended up standing pat and not moving the veteran Goligoski. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Chicago Blackhawks were at least listening to offers for RFA blue liner Zadorov as well and the Jets made a push, but to no avail.
Taylor Hall to the New York Islanders or Vegas Golden Knights
Friedman began his post-deadline “31 Thoughts” by confirming the suspicions that Hall left the Buffalo Sabres little choice but to trade him to the Boston Bruins, stating that Hall had decided that was where he wanted to go and used his No-Movement Clause to make it happen. However, two other teams made a strong push and that was the Islanders and the Golden Knights. Hall was even open to joining New York, but once they acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac he turned his focus to Boston even though the Isles maintained interest. The Sabres were seemingly very interested in making a deal with Vegas, as Friedman notes that multiple teams were contacted about acting as a salary cap broker for a potential deal. In the end, Hall preferred Boston and that is all that mattered.
Many have been critical of the Sabres’ return for Hall – a Boston second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork – but they tried their best to get more. Friedman reports that Buffalo asked Boston about moving one of their promising young keepers, as both Vladar and Swayman have shown NHL ability in recent weeks as the injury replacements in the Bruins net. However, once Boston knew that Hall wanted to go there and could control the decision, they held all the leverage. The team easily declined moving either talented netminder.
Conor Garland to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vegas Golden Knights
While the team ended up acquiring Nick Foligno instead, Friedman notes that the Toronto Maple Leafs did express interest in affordable Arizona Coyotes forward Garland. Garland would have fit nicely under the cap, but would have been expensive to require and near impossible to re-sign for the cap-strapped Leafs. The team thus went in a different direction. The Golden Knights were also linked to Garland, but could not make a deal work with their division rival. Garland remaining with the Coyotes could be what is best for both parties in the long run anyhow.
Ryan Getzlaf to the Vegas Golden Knights or Montreal Canadiens
The Golden Knights just missed out on seemingly everyone, huh? Friedman notes that the team was close to adding Anaheim captain Getzlaf and the career Duck was open to the nearby move. However, Vegas allegedly was unwilling to meet the trade demands for the veteran center. For the same reason, the Canadiens likely missed out. Friedman notes that they had serious interest, but talks never got far. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now adds that the Penguins kicked the tires on Getzlaf as well, but never made a serious offer. Anaheim clearly put a high price tag on the face of the franchise and never even approached him about waiving his No-Movement Clause.
Travis Zajac to the Pittsburgh Penguins
While it’s easy to lose track of when trades were made and talks were had around the deadline, per Friedman it seems the Penguins had their sights first set on Zajac from New Jersey, then Getzlaf, and finally Carter. The Kings veteran is not a bad acquisition for a third choice. The Penguins do have to face Zajac on a fellow East Division contender the rest of the way though and surely hope that Carter proves to be the superior player head-to-head.
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. A relatively slow day ended with a late burst, as many teams jumped into the mix at the last minute. How do you think your team did? Share your deadline grades in the comments for teams in the North Division.
In – D Dmitry Kulikov
Out – conditional 2022 fourth-round pick
In – F Ryan Dzingel, F Michael Amadio, D Brandon Fortunato, 2022 third-round pick (BOS), 2022 seventh-round pick (NYI), 2023 seventh-round pick (NSH)
Out – D Mike Reilly, D Erik Gudbranson, D Braydon Coburn, F Cedric Paquette, F Alex Galchenyuk, D Christian Wolanin,
Toronto Maple Leafs
In – F Nick Foligno, G David Rittich, D Ben Hutton, F Alex Galchenyuk, F Riley Nash, F Stefan Noesen, F Antti Suomela, G Veini Vehvilainen
Out – F Alexander Barabanov, D Mikko Lehtonen, D David Warsofsky, F Yegor Korshkov, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick, conditional 2022 seventh-round pick
In – D Jordie Benn
Out – 2021 sixth-round pick
The Winnipeg Jets have landed their defensive upgrade right at the deadline, acquiring Jordie Benn from the Vancouver Canucks according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the Jets will send a 2021 sixth-round pick to Vancouver.
The quality of the player and the timing of the deal point in one direction: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff ran out of time and options. There was perhaps no team in the NHL with a more identifiable need than the Jets and their blue line. The team has needed another defenseman all season and was expected to be in the running for the best available names. The team even signaled that a trade was on the way by moving Nathan Beaulieu to Long-Term Injured Reserve to open up more cap space.
Instead, they leave cap room to spare and leave their fans wanting more with the addition of Benn. In fairness, the respected veteran is having a good offensive season by his standards and brings experience and leadership to the fold. However, he has only been playing bottom-pair minutes in Vancouver this season and has been regularly exposed on defense. Benn is simply a depth addition for Winnipeg, not the game-changing presence that was hoped for.
- The Jets have transferred Nathan Beaulieu to LTIR, CapFriendly reports (Twitter link). The defenseman had been ruled out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this month so it was a move that could have been done at any time. The placement adds another $1.15MM to Winnipeg’s LTIR pool, giving them just under $4.8MM in full-season cap hit that can be brought in. That said, that number could drop a bit if they recall Kristian Vesalainen back up from the taxi squad later today; that would push Winnipeg’s spending room to a little under $4MM.
The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline is just hours away so it’s time to wrap up our look around the league with the Winnipeg Jets and where they stand and should be trying to do.
The Jets came into this season as a bit of a wild card team. Connor Hellebuyck gives them high-level goaltending while they bolstered one of the better top-six forward groups in the league. There were questions surrounding the rest of the team but they’ve answered them nicely so far and are battling for home ice in the first round with a shot still at tracking down Toronto for first in the North. With that in mind, Kevin Cheveldayoff should be looking to try to add over the next few hours.
25-13-3, 2nd in West Division
Deadline Cap Space
$0 in regular cap space, $2.43MM in LTIR room, 1/3 retention slots used, 44/50 contracts used per CapFriendly.
Upcoming Draft Picks
2021: WPG 1st, WPG 2nd, WPG 3rd, WPG 5th, WPG 6th
2022: WPG 1st, WPG 2nd, CBJ 3rd, WPG 3rd, WPG 5th, WPG 6th, WPG 7th
Cheap defensemen are always in high demand at the trade deadline and Winnipeg has one of those in Sami Niku. For years now, he has been on the cusp of making it as a regular but has yet to do and has dropped a couple of spots on the depth chart with Logan Stanley holding his own and Ville Heinola waiting in the wings. He’s someone that they can easily hold on to for expansion purposes as he is already signed for next season at just a $725K cap hit but at 24, there are likely rebuilding teams that would like to get a closer look at him. Instead of flipping a mid-round pick for a rental, Niku could be substituted, a move that would also give Winnipeg a little more cap flexibility.
Kristian Vesalainen is a name that many are familiar with going back to his days in the SHL before he was drafted. However, the offensive potential that was believed to be there hasn’t really materialized since Winnipeg picked him 24th overall back in 2017. In his limited NHL action this season, he has been limited to duty on the fourth line and that’s not a great fit for his particular style of play. The Jets would certainly be selling low but his value is likely only going to continue to dip the further he gets into his entry-level deal which has another year left on it. If there’s a team that still really believes in Vesalainen’s upside, this may be the right time to move him.
Mathieu Perreault’s name has come up many times over the years as a speculative trade or even buyout candidate but now as an expiring contract, this is his last chance to be moved and this may be his likeliest chance of moving compared to those other times. If Cheveldayoff wants to go after a higher-priced player, Perreault’s $4.125MM AAV could quite plausibly be thrown into the deal as a salary offset over asking a team to retain, especially with some of the sellers likely to use their three allowable retention slots. He’s a versatile player that certainly has a role on the roster but if they need to take away a sizable contract to add another one, Perreault is the obvious candidate to be thrown in.
1) Top-Four Defenseman: One team that was almost certainly disappointed by David Savard heading to Tampa Bay was Winnipeg as they’ve had a need for a blueliner that can log 20 minutes or more pretty much all season. Actually, you could go back to last year for that particular need. There aren’t many other rentals that could fit that bill – New Jersey’s Ryan Murray may be one of the exceptions – but Cheveldayoff needs to find a way to get one despite the limited LTIR room he has to work with.
2) Upgrade Fourth Line Depth – Winnipeg has not used their fourth line much this season with Perreault being the only one averaging more than ten minutes a night. There isn’t anything wrong with targeting defensive specialists to help in those situations but adding a piece or two that Paul Maurice would be comfortable using for more than nine minutes a game would help keep their top players a bit more rested down the stretch and give them some extra insurance in case more injuries arise.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jets have added some goaltending depth to their system as CapFriendly reports (Twitter link) that they’ve inked Cole Kehler to a deal for the remainder of the season. The deal is worth $700K in the NHL and $70K in the minors.
The 23-year-old has made just one appearance this season which came yesterday as he played the final two periods with AHL Manitoba, making eight of ten stops while picking up the victory over Belleville. Kehler had spent the previous two seasons in Los Angeles’ farm system, spending the majority of his time in the ECHL.
With Winnipeg recently losing Anton Forsberg to Ottawa on waivers, they were down to just one recallable goalie in Mikhail Berdin (with Eric Comrie available on the taxi squad if needed). On top of that, the backup for most of the season in Manitoba was Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs who was recently recalled to Vancouver in the wake of their COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, there was a need for another netminder in their system and Kehler has earned his first NHL deal to fill that void.
The Winnipeg Jets have signed one of their 2019 draft picks, inking Simon Lundmark to a three-year entry-level contract. Lundmark has spent the last several seasons with Linkopings HC in the Swedish Hockey League. The contract will carry an average annual value of $925K.
Selected 51st overall by the Jets two years ago, the 20-year-old defenseman has continued his development overseas, scoring 10 points in 47 games with Linkopings this season. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ranked him 15th in the Jets system as recently as January, saying that though he doesn’t have a “dynamic quality,” is still above average in most areas.
Obviously given his age there is still room for growth, but Lundmark has never really been among the top prospects in Sweden. Still, the Jets obviously see enough to hand him an entry-level deal and bring him into the organization.