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This article was published 9/4/2017 (1620 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Veteran defenceman Toby Enstrom deflected questions Sunday about the possibility he has or will be asked by Winnipeg Jets management to waive the no-movement clause in his contract.
The 32-year-old Swede, who has one year remaining on a five-year deal that will pay him US$5.75 million next season, could give the Jets more flexibility at the upcoming NHL expansion draft if he were to forego his no-movement clause and allow the Jets to expose him in the draft.
"The season's just finished and we haven't had any conversation about the future or anything," Enstrom told reporters after players completed season-ending exit interviews with management at the MTS Centre.
"You know, I've been in this franchise for 10 years and I'm happy here and I'm excited to see where this team is going. I said earlier this is a team I believe should be in the playoffs, and I'm proud every night I get to put this jersey on."
The Jets have two options for the expansion draft, which will stock the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights with one player from each NHL team. Winnipeg may protect four defencemen, four forwards and one goaltender or seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender. If the Jets must protect all eligible players with no-movement clauses, they would likely protect blue-liners Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers.
Should Enstrom waive his rights, Winnipeg would be in a position to protect seven forwards instead. The organization, which is well-stocked with good forwards, would otherwise be vulnerable to losing a player they desperately want to keep.
"It’s intriguing, it adds, obviously, a wrinkle," said captain Blake Wheeler. "We’re going to lose a guy to it — everyone is going to — so it’s going to be interesting how it’s handled. I don’t really know what to expect. Nobody in my generation has been through it. You just hope for the best and like I said, we’re going to lose a good guy regardless of who it is. In that sense, it’s going to be tough."
Assuming Mark Scheifele, Wheeler, Bryan Little and Adam Lowry are likely to be protected under a 4-4-1 formula, Mathieu Perreault could be one of those left unprotected. Another possibility is the Jets will attempt to make a trade with Vegas involving draft choices and/or players to avoid losing personnel they want to keep.
Perreault, who has a four-year, US$16-million extension that kicks in next fall, made his concerns known to management.
"I asked them. They gave me the answer I wanted to hear," said Perreault. "They said they’ll try to do everything they can to protect me. But nothing is certain so I don’t really know what’s going to happen."
After a slow start complicated by illness and injury, Perreault ended the season on a blistering pace, scoring nine goals and adding 19 assists in 23 games while finding a nice chemistry with linemates Bryan Little and Patrik Laine. He finished with 13 goals and 45 points in 65 games.
"If you would have asked me (about the expansion draft) two months ago I probably would have had a different answer," said Perreault. "I feel like I probably wouldn’t have been protected really, given the (four-year) contract and how I was producing. That’s just how this game goes. I hope they protect me but it’s really out of my control. All I could do is play my best and hope they protect me and I feel like I’ve done that, so it’s in their hands really. At least I gave myself a chance to stay here."
One player likely to be exposed in the expansion draft is forward Shawn Matthias, who revealed his nightmarish, injury-filled season was actually much worse than previously reported.
Mathias said he tore muscles in his ribs and cracked his ribs in his first pre-season game and followed that up by tearing the medial collateral ligament and patellar tendon in the left knee 10 games into the regular season. He capped it off by suffering a labral tear in his right shoulder in a March 13 fight with Cody McLeod of the Nashville Predators and missing the final 12 games of the regular season. All told, Matthias played in 45 games but estimated he was only healthy for five of those starts.
Matthias, a free-agent signing last summer, had surgery on the shoulder and believes he's finally on the mend.
"Recovery's going as well as expected right now," said Matthias. "... This week I'll finally get this sling off and do some more stuff and start attacking the muscles around where everything's injured and hopefully get back to 100 per cent."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.