The Winnipeg Jets have had some great players over the course of a few years, some of whom they overpaid and some that are an absolute bargain.
This article will look at the team’s best contracts going into the beginning of the 2020-21 season and will compare them to other players with similar point production. Although the Jets have some great deals on their team, these are the best three candidates.
Neal Pionk – $3 Million
Pionk has been an absolutely great addition for the Jets after they traded for him, along with a first-round pick, from the New York Rangers in exchange for the $8 million Jacob Trouba. Pionk signed his deal with the Jets in the summer of 2019, and it ends after the 2020-21 season, where he will then be a restricted free agent.
The offensive defenseman put up 45 points for the Jets last season, an almost 20-point increase from his previous year with the Rangers. He also put up a solid plus-10 for a defensively struggling team, putting him in the top three on the Jets.
Pionk scored a total of 15 points per $1 million that the Jets were paying him last season, and he will look to improve that total this year in hopes of a big raise come at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
So, how much should the Jets pay Pionk based on his production last season? His point total puts him in the ranks of Brent Burns, Keith Yandle, and Kris Letang, as well as having a better plus/minus. With this information, the Jets should pay Pionk around $6.5 million this coming year. This is less than Burns and Letang, but as a young defenseman, he needs to prove himself a little bit more to earn the big bucks.
Connor Hellebuyck – $6.166 Million
The résumé speaks for itself with Hellebuyck as he won the Vezina Trophy this past season as the NHL’s top goaltender. He finished the season with a 31-21-5 record while recording six shutouts to lead the league in that category.
He led the league in games played, shots against, and saves, which proved why he was a clear candidate for goalie of the year. The Jets have four more full seasons of Hellebuyck at this price, and they should be very thankful for that.
Hellebuyck should be making close to the highest, if not the highest, salary in the NHL as a goaltender. This would put him up in the salary ranks with Andrei Vasilevskiy, Carey Price, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Tuukka Rask.
With Hellebuyck’s résumé and comparison to other goaltenders’ contracts, he should have been making around $9-10 million last season for the Jets.
Mark Scheifele – $6.125 Million
Scheifele is the best forward on the Jets’ roster, and he has proven that for the past couple of seasons. He wears the assistant captaincy for the squad and is known as a driver for the team. When he is hot, the team does well, and when he is cold, they have to try and find scoring elsewhere.
He put up 73 points for the Jets last year, which put him just over a point per game on the season. Twenty of those points being on the power play proves that he is a threat on the man advantage.
Scheifele is going to be the Jets’ No. 1 centre for years and years to come, and they should pay him like one. As it stands, he’s the seventh-highest paid player on the team going into the 2020-21 season, which is a blessing for the organization.
Scheifele compares to guys like Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Mika Zibanejad, and Aleksander Barkov, as they are all number one centres on their teams and have similar point production.
Zibanajed and Barkov are both very good but underpaid players, as they both make under $6 million a year. Scheifele, and those two, all deserve to earn lucrative contracts like the big guys. And this would put him at an average cap hit of $9-11 million.
Adam Lowry makes just under $3 million per season and is a force to be reckoned with when he centres the Jets’ third line. Although he should not make much more, this is still a bargain of a deal for the squad.
Mason Appleton is an absolute steal of a contract, as he makes under $1 million per season. The Jets’ winger is a solid fourth or third-line player who can provide scoring and also contribute to the penalty kill. Providing he does well, he will be looking for a raise in the next few years.
Josh Morrissey will be the Jets’ number one blueliner for many seasons to come, as he continues to impress under pressure. He makes just north of $6 million and is under contract for a long time with the Winnipeg club.
With all of these players under cheap, team friendly contracts, the Jets will look to use that to their advantage and create a Stanley Cup contending squad when the new season comes around.