Changes The Winnipeg Jets Must Make To Become A Contender Again

With Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele both committing long-term in Winnipeg, that means there is now pressure once again to build a contending team and have the Jets compete for at least the next four years. So what can Kevin Cheveldayoff do to make that a reality?

The Jets have some young pieces, but there are a number of veterans that fill their roster. The league is getting younger and the team needs production from these younger players which I think they will get. Gabe Vilardi, Cole Perfetti, Rasmus Kupari, Morgan Barron, and Dylan Samberg are the names I look at that are on the team right now. While some other young and talented players start to come into the NHL, some veterans will be moved out. It might be tough for the team to compete this season on such short notice, but it is also entirely doable.

The first thing that the Jets can do is play well enough up to the trade deadline that Cheveldayoff sees that effort and goes out and brings in someone with 1-2 years remaining on their deal after this season. This would not only reward the Jets this season and give them more of a fighting chance, it would solidify their lineup for more time.

Players that will likely have to be moved out are Nino Niederreiter, Brendan Dillon, and Nate Schmidt to start. I am still on the fence about Dylan DeMelo, but he has been a solid and cheaper top pairing option to play beside Josh Morrissey while Neal Pionk holds down the second pairing. With the first three names I mentioned, that is a lot of cap space that would be freed up. Both Hellebuyck and Scheifele are getting raises, but not significant ones. Up to $17 million could be cleared by those four players and the Jets could either trade for someone impactful or test free agency. That might be tough because of location, but players also look at if teams have a fighting chance of winning the Stanley Cup. The Jets could be that team if they sell the narrative that their two best players were willing to stick around.

The Jets were a dominant team a number of years ago and still have some of those pieces. They can be that again, but it won't be easy. This franchise hasn't hoisted a Stanley Cup before.

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