Getting bounced out of the qualifying round showed that the Winnipeg Jets need some upgrades in the depth chart.
The forward combination of Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers is very solid, but after the roster starts looking a little thin. Especially on defence.
The Jets are going to have just over $15 million in cap space this offseason. Considering there are 15 RFAs and UFAs needing new contracts, including Dylan Demelo, Jack Roslovic and Laurent Brossoit, that $15 million starts getting real small real quick. Paul Maurice has said that he expects the roster to be similar should GM Kevin Cheveldayoff stay the course and resign most of his free agents.
We’re still not sure what Bryan Little will decide, but indications are pointing towards him hanging his blades up. If that happens, that could clear about $5.3 million in cap space, but again, tough to rely on this. Considering he’s still owed about $20 million, the more likely scenario is that he’s placed on the LTIR.
Taking into account this lack of cap room, the Jets are going to need to find players who are likely to exceed expectations to fill holes in the roster. With the salary cap ready to stagnate for the next couple seasons, there isn’t a lot of room for error when it comes to handing out contracts.
With how good Connor Hellebuyck was this season — he should have been nominated for MVP, and that’s a hill I’ll die on — the Jets need to do more to help him out.
So here are 5 UFAs that Kevin Cheveldayoff should try to sign.