Drag your finger down the list of NHL team payrolls and it would easy to make two knee-jerk assumptions:
1. The Winnipeg Jets, fourth from the bottom at around $51.4 million, are a tight-fisted miserly bunch and;
2. Jet management has some work to do just to get to the salary-cap floor of $54.2 million.
So it's at this point where the brakes shouldn't just be pumped to halt those conclusions, but instead should have both feet slammed onto the pedal in full force.
The reason? Connecting those dots would be absolutely dead wrong.
Yes, the Jets have 21 players currently under contract totalling $51,418,959 and that figure is about $2.8 million shy of the cap floor. And it's true that number may change in the new collective bargaining agreement. But it's the club's blueprint -- one they have yet to waver from at all -- that should prove as evidence the Jets are far from finished building and by the end of the summer that cap number could be significantly higher.
Already this summer the Jets have inked Ondrej Pavelec and Toby Enstrom to new long-term deals, one year after locking up captain Andrew Ladd through 2015-16. And Dustin Byfuglien still has four years left on a deal he signed when the team was in Atlanta.
As well, the Jets augmented their roster with the additions of Olli Jokinen (two years, $4.5 million per), Alex Ponikarovsky (one year, $1.8 million) and Al Montoya ($601,000) while losing Tanner Glass (Pittsburgh) and Chris Mason (Nashville) on the open market.
Now, as Free Press columnist Gary Lawless first reported a few weeks back, the Jets have made Evander Kane a six-year offer worth around $29 million and that $4.8 million annual hit alone would push the club over the cap floor. But it's the moves management might make after the Kane deal is completed which would hammer home the Jet approach. Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian -- all under 25 years of age and all scheduled to become restricted free agents after next season -- figure to be cornerstone pieces who could also be offered significant raises to sign long-term deals. Same goes for Alex Burmistrov, who is entering what could be a huge year in terms of establishing his market value. As well, energy forward Spencer Machacek, who impressed with nine points in 11 games after a call-up in March, is also a restricted free agent who may get a raise in a new deal.
Signing those players to new deals would push the Jets well into the mid-cap range ownership has said is their target. As well, it would further signal the team's goal of establishing Winnipeg as a franchise keen on building a winner, not one many players wished to flee from for the opposite reasons (see: Thrashers, Atlanta).
JETCETERA: The Jets announced changes to three start times previously announced in June, including their home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 13. Puck drop for that game has been bumped up an hour to 1 p.m. at the MTS Centre. The other changes are both road games -- Winnipeg's first preseason game in Edmonton at Rexall Place on Sept. 24 will now start at 8:30 p.m. CT with their visit to Dallas on Feb. 21 now changed to 7:30 p.m. from 7... The Jets are no longer in the running for former University of Nebraska-Omaha star Jayson Megna, the NCAA prospect who opted to turn pro this summer. A member of the WCHA All-Freshmen Team, Megna was said to have narrowed down his list of options to Pittsburgh, the Jets and Boston. A Jets official confirmed they are no longer in the running for the 22-year-old American. Several media outlets were reporting earlier this week Megna was close to signing with the Pens... The Jets have hired Brian Renfrew, who spent last year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the previous eight seasons at Michigan State, as a scout. Renfrew will be based out of Lansing, Michigan, where he and his family reside.
THE JETS: DOLLARS AND CENTS
A look at the Jets current salary cap:
The NHL's 2012-13 cap (under current CBA): $70.2 million -- up from $64.3 million last year.
NHL cap floor: $54.2 million
Jets current cap: $51,418,959
(Figures courtesy capgeek.com)
Name2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Olli Jokinen$4.5 mil$4.5 milUFA
Andrew Ladd$4.4 mil$4.4 mil$4.4 mil$4.4 milUFA
Nik Antropov$4.06 milUFA
Blake Wheeler$2.55 milRFA
Bryan Little$2.38 milRFA
Alex Ponikarovsky$1.8 milUFA
Jim Slater$1.6 mil$1.6 mil$1.6 milUFA
Kyle Wellwood$1.6 milUFA
Alex Burmistrov$1.5 mil*RFA
Antti Miettinen$1.35 milUFA
Dustin Byfuglien$5.2 mil$5.2 mil$5.2 mil$5.2 milUFA
Ron Hainsey$4.5 milUFA
Tobias Enstrom$3.75 mil$5.75 mil$5.75 mil$5.75 mil$5.75 mil$5.75 milUFA
Zach Bogosian$2.5 milRFA
Mark Stuart$1.7 mil$1.7 milUFA
Grant Clitsome$1.25 milUFA
Ondrej Pavelec$3.9 mil$3.9 mil$3.9 mil$3.9 mil$3.9 milUFA
*Entry-level player: Players 18-21 sign entry-level contracts for their first three NHL seasons. (Those aged 22-23 are entry-level players for their first two years, those aged 24 for a single year).
RFA: Restricted Free Agent -- Players who are no longer considered entry-level but do not qualify as unrestricted free agents when their contracts expire.
UFA: Unrestricted Free Agent -- Any player who is at least 27 years old or has at least seven years of service as an NHL player whose contract has expired.
(As of July 31)
1. Boston Bruins$69.9
2. Minnesota Wild$68.8
3. Vancouver Canucks$67.8
4. Calgary Flames$$66.7
5. Philadelphia Flyers$66.6
6. San Jose Sharks$64.6
7. Montreal Canadiens$$63.9
8. Tampa Bay Lightning$63.2
9. Edmonton Oilers$62.9
10. Chicago Blackhawks$62.4
11. Los Angeles Kings$62.3
12. Toronto Maple Leafs$61.1
13. Buffalo Sabres$60.3
14. Pittsburgh Penguins$60.3
15. Washington Capitals$59.6
16. New York Rangers$58.5
17. Columbus Blue Jackets$57.6
18. Carolina Hurricanes$57.3
19. Detroit Red Wings$57.1
20. New Jersey Devils$56.1
21. Anaheim Ducks$54.1
22. Colorado Avalanche$54.1
23. Florida Panthers$53.7
24. Nashville Predators$53.7
25. St. Louis Blues$53.6
26. Dallas Stars$53.1
27. Winnipeg Jets$51.4
28. Ottawa Senators$50.2
29. New York Islanders$47.7
30. Phoenix Coyotes$44.8