The Winnipeg Jets head into the offseason after an extremely disappointing postseason in which they were swept by the Anaheim Ducks. The team definitely made some vast improvements during the regular season but unfortunately, they didn’t translate into playoff success.
Now, it’s on to the offseason, and the Jets will certainly have some important decisions to make. Before July 1st comes, Kevin Cheveldayoff and management will have to choose which of their free agents they want to re-sign, and which ones they will let walk.
Winnipeg is currently facing 22 players without contracts for next season, let them be in the NHL or in the minors. A list of all pending free agents can be found here: Winnipeg Jets Free Agents.
As for now, let’s take a look at the major free agents the Jets have and what their best option would be for them.
The Winnipeg Jets have just 6 forwards under contract through next season. With $21.6 million in cap space still available, they have the money to bring back most, if not all, of their roster from last season, with a few upgrades as well.
Michael Frolik- 82GP, 19G, 23A, 42PTS, +4, 18PIM.
The 27 year old, former 1st round draft pick seemed far removed from his two 20-goal seasons when the Winnipeg Jets traded for him. However, in two seasons for Winnipeg, Frolik has scored 34 goals and 84 points in 163 games, becoming virtually a 20-20 player in each season. He was 6th in points for the Jets last year. He is now an important part of this team’s top 6 and would leave a gaping hole if he left.
Verdict- Re-sign Frolik to a 2 or 3 year contract worth $3.75 million per year.
Lee Stempniak- 18GP, 6G, 4A, 10PTS, +1, 2PIM.
Stempniak struggled in his 53 games as a New York Ranger, posting just 18 points. The Winnipeg Jets came calling at the deadline and acquired him for a prospect. He flourished under the Jets style of play and was an important piece of their depth down the stretch run. At 32 years of age, Stempniak looks like he has more than a few years left. The Jets need great depth to succeed, but this is an area of possible improvement.
Verdict: Re-sign Stempniak to a 1 year contract worth $2.25 million.
Drew Stafford- 26GP, 9G, 10A, 19PTS, +6, 8PIM.
Stafford was acquired by the Jets in the Evander Kane trade. In his time in Winnipeg he really seemed to be reborn in their style of play, and that was reflected in his point totals. Again, Stafford became a key component of Winnipeg’s depth that got them into the postseason and I’m sure GM Cheveldayoff would love to have him back, as would Stafford.
Verdict: Re-sign Stafford to a 2 year contract worth $3 million per year.
Jiri Tlusty- 20GP, 1G, 7A, 8PTS, -1, 4PIM.
Tlusty was acquired by Winnipeg from Carolina near the Trade Deadline. The 27 year old former 1st round pick has shown flashes of his potential, but not many times as a Jet. He didn’t manage to bring the goal production Winnipeg had expected and got zero points in the playoffs. He doesn’t seem to fit in with the Jets run and gun, physical type of game.
Verdict: Let Tlusty walk.
Jim Slater- 82GP, 5G, 8A, 13PTS, -4, 58PIM.
Slater has been in the Winnipeg Jets franchise his entire career since being drafted 30th overall in 2002. He doesn’t put up huge point totals, but he knows his role and plays it well. He is exactly what Winnipeg looks for in a player; great work ethic, leadership, and physicality. Slater slots in well in a fourth line role.
Verdict: Re-sign Slater to a 3 year contract worth $1.3 million per year.
T.J Galiardi- 38GP, 1G, 0A, 1PT, -8, 2PIM.
The Winnipeg Jets signed T.J. Galiardi this past offseason in hopes of a revival of his past self. They did not get that. They got a good penalty killer, but that’s about it. Galiardi couldn’t find a way to chip in offensively at all and soon became a consistent healthy scratch for most of the year.
Verdict: Let Galiardi walk.
Matt Halischuk- 47GP, 3G, 5A, 8PTS, +5, 6PIM.
Halischuk mostly played a fourth line role with the Jets, otherwise he was a healthy scratch. He’s struggled to find a fit for himself in Winnipeg since signing there and both sides were likely disappointed. He hasn’t done nearly enough for the Winnipeg Jets to find a realistic reason to keep him around.
Verdict: Let Halischuk walk.
The Winnipeg Jets already have six defensemen making at least $1 million next year, and also have Jacob Trouba, who will be in his last year of his entry level contract. There’s little, to no room for more defensemen on this roster. Their two free agents combined for 97 games last year though.
Adam Pardy- 55GP, 0G, 9A, 9PTS, +9, 40PIM.
Pardy is a valuable defenceman to have on your team and can still be a top 6 defender in the NHL, but the Winnipeg Jets may simply not have the room for him any longer after acquiring Tyler Myers. Pardy likely won’t like that situation either as he will look for full time work.
Verdict: Let Pardy walk.
Paul Postma- 42GP, 2G, 4A, 6PTS, +1, 16PIM.
Like Pardy, Postma is a decent defenceman who has likely run out of room on the depth chart and will search for more playing time. He’s also more of a defensive defenceman and could find a team to play consistently with, but it won’t be in Winnipeg.
Verdict: Let Postma walk.
All in all, the Winnipeg Jets have lots of free agents to deal with this summer, but with plenty of cap space and virtually only the 6 forward spots to fill, it won’t be too difficult for Cheveldayoff and company to figure out their plan. They know the type of team they want to put on the ice and will have some leftover money to go out and try to find an upgrade. One that will hopefully get the Winnipeg Jets franchise their first ever playoff win.
Feel free to discuss your thoughts of the Winnipeg Jets Free Agents in the comments below!
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at email@example.com or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.