Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Expect nothing, Jets fans... ...and you won't be disappointed

Chevy unlikely to rev up free agency engine, but some surprises possible

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If it were easy, Kevin Cheveldayoff would simply push a shopping cart up and down the aisles of the NHL free-agent market and help himself to whatever talent upgrades he could find for the Winnipeg Jets.

But if the last two free-agent periods for the Jets have provided any sort of foreshadowing for what to expect in the third -- which opens Friday -- then we can take a wild guess at this unfolding over the next few days or so:

Cheveldayoff & Co. will make a ton of phone calls, serve up some legit offers and then cross their fingers one of their feelers gets a bite.

Yes, throwing dollars around like a Saudi prince has never been the Jets' approach to free agency because it is the antithesis of their core draft-and-develop blueprint. But it doesn't mean they won't be active, or at least, attempt to be active, in playing the game and augmenting their roster.

A year ago the free-agent additions featured Olli Jokinen, Alex Ponikarovsky and Al Montoya -- none of which made any significant contributions. And in Year 1 it was Kyle Wellwood, Randy Jones, Derek Meech and Tanner Glass. Role players and depth guys every one of them.

And so if Jets fans are hoping/praying/expecting the club to do what the Minnesota Wild did last summer -- throwing 13-year, $98-million deals at both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise -- then, well, prepare to be bitterly disappointed.

An example: Paul Krepelka, the agent for Boston Bruins right-winger Nathan Horton, told the Free Press Thursday in an email he had spoken to Cheveldayoff, but it was "unlikely" his client -- who has already visited Columbus -- would sign with the Jets.

Worth noting is the Jets have already committed $42 million to 15 players signed for next season and, presuming some of their restricted free agents get healthy raises -- Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little key among them -- then the club will have some room to make a big pitch to land a right-winger they covet.

The more likely scenario over the next few weeks/months is for the Jets to make a smaller splash in free agency and then try to deal for Top 6 help -- just as they did with Michael Frolik on Sunday.

Here's a look at where the Jets are with their current roster and the cap and a handful of players they may be/should be pursuing when the market officially opens.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

The Jets go to market

Players signed for 2013-14: 15

(Figures indicate 2013-14 cap hit; courtesy capgeek.com)

 

Goaltender: Ondrej Pavelec ($3.9 million), Al Montoya ($601,000)

Defencemen: Toby Enstrom ($5.75 million); Dustin Byfuglien ($5.2 million); Grant Clitsome ($2.07 million); Jacob Trouba ($1.83 million); Mark Stuart ($1.7 million).

Forwards: Evander Kane ($5.25 million); Olli Jokinen ($4.5 million); Andrew Ladd ($4.4 million); Michael Frolik ($2.33 million); Jim Slater ($1.6 million); Mark Scheifele ($1.56 million); Chris Thorburn ($866,667); James Wright ($650,000)

Cap payroll total: $42,208,500

2013-14 salary cap ceiling: $64.3 million

2013-14 salary-cap floor: $44 million

Jets' cap space: $23,316,500

 

Restricted free agents:

RW Blake Wheeler ($2.55 million)

C Bryan Little ($2.38 million)

C Alex Burmistrov ($1.5 million)

LW Eric Tangradi ($726,000)

RW Anthony Peluso ($605,000)

D Zach Bogosian ($2.5 million)

D Zach Redmond ($875,000)

D Paul Postma ($550,000)

D Arturs Kulda ($550,000)

Unrestricted free agents (2013 salary):

 

D Ron Hainsey ($4.5 million)

C Nik Antropov ($4.06 million)

C/W Kyle Wellwood ($1.6 million)

C/W Mike Santorelli ($1.6 million)

RW Antti Miettinen ($1.35 million)

C Aaron Gagnon ($562,500)

Filling the right side

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has made no secret of his desire to find forward help for his Top 6, preferably on the right side. Here's a list at some of the RWs available in free agency:

  • David Clarkson, NJ: 2013 salary: $3 million; gritty, tough, resilient and can score. Drawing lots of interest.
  • Nathan Horton, Bos: 2013 salary: $5.5 million (cap hit: $4 million); visited Columbus, also interested in Nashville. Still just 28 and a big dude at 6-2, 230 but 'unlikely' to come to the Jets, according to his agent.
  • Michael Ryder, Mtl: 2013 salary: $3.5 million; now 33, but can still score: had 16 goals in 46 games last season and 35 the year before.
  • Damien Brunner, Det: 2013 salary: $1.35 million; fits what the Jets are chasing: younger (27), can score (12 goals, 26 points in 44 games) and figures not to come with a gaudy price tag.
  • Brad Boyes, NYI: 2013 salary: $1 million; certainly not prolific, but a decent winger.
  • Jarome Iginla, Pitt: 2013 salary: $7 million; it is 2013 and not 2003, right?
  • Jaromir Jagr, Bos: 2013 salary: $4.55 million; it is 2013 and not 1993, right?
  • Daniel Alfredsson, Ott: 2013 salary: $1 million (cap hit of $4.875 million); hard to imagine him in anything other than a Sens uni.

 

Other juicy names on the market

 

  • Mike Ribeiro, C, Wash: 2013 salary: $5 million; posted good numbers in '13 (49 points in 48 games) but figures to be over-paid in this market.
  • Val Filppula, C/LW, Det: 2013 salary: $3 million; versatile, skilled and often forgotten playing with the likes of Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov, Pha: 2013 salary: $6.5 million; the NHL will be a whole lot more boring if this wacky netminder isn't around.
  • Ryane Clowe, LW, NYR: 2013 salary: $4 million; tough as nails, but somewhat of an injury risk now.
  • Andrew Ferrence, D, Bos: 2013 salary: $2.25 million; teams are always looking for steady, veteran D-men
  • Stephen Weiss, Fla: 2013 salary: $4.1 million; wrist injury limited him to just 17 games last year. Three straight 20-goal seasons before that.
  • Anton Khudobin, G, Bos: 2013 salary: $875,000; he's still just 27 and could blossom out of Tukka Rask's shadow.
  • Tyler Bozak, C, Tor; 2013 salary: $1.5 million; getting a lot of love from a lot of teams heading into the market.
  • Ray Emery, G, Chi: 2013 salary: $1.15 million; awesome numbers last year with the Hawks (1.94 GAA, .922 save percentage).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2013 C3

History

Updated on Friday, July 5, 2013 at 8:54 AM CDT: formats text

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