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BLOG: The Jets need to keep Paul Maurice

Paul Maurice's contract expires with the end of the season.  The Jets need to get him back.
Paul Maurice's contract expires with the end of the season. The Jets need to get him back.

There are so many decisions for the Jets and general manager Kevin Chevaldayoff to make during the off-season. The biggest would be whether or not to offer head coach Paul Maurice a new contract.

The Jets’ first 15 games under Maurice were the best any current coach has seen. And they featured the biggest turnaround of any current coach. And though the Jets fell off from that pace, they played well enough to make a run at the playoffs.

      Under Noel  Under Maurice
Record        19-23-5          18-12-5
Points            47              41
Points per 82 games            75              96
Goals for per 82 games           223              232
Goals against per 82 games           253             216
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You can see that the points per game improved dramatically under Maurice. And the goals allowed per game dropped by almost 15 per cent. So, is the improvement enough to earn Maurice a new, long-term contract? CJOB’s Kelly Moore is certain it is.

“I think their play without the puck has been better — just more organized. You still see too many grade-A scoring opportunities (against), but they’ve managed to reduce that substantially.”

What sealed it for Moore was the “bag skate” that Maurice put the players through before their final home game.

“I thought that was just a stroke of genius … just so when guys show up to training camp, the first day when they get skated there will be no ‘Oh geez, where did that come from?’ They’ll be coming to training camp saying ‘Okay, we know what we’re in for.’ ”

So under Maurice the Jets improved considerably in picking up points and defensively. Both are very good signs. Even more encouraging is that the opponents the Jets faced were better during Maurice’s tenure.

I broke down the Jets’ opponents by the number of points they earned this season at home or away, depending on where the game was played. The teams the Jets played under Noel averaged 46 points. Under Maurice the teams averaged 49 points … a small indication of how the games were tougher, if only slightly.

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No question for Moore that Maurice’s approach and attitude were keys in turning the players around.

“He has that air about him. He knows exactly what he’s looking for from this hockey club. I don’t want to say he’s automatically going to guide this team into the playoffs. But he’s the right guy to keep it moving forward.”

Going forward, the Jets have nine free agents from their NHL roster that require off-season decisions.

Jets free agents

PlayerPosAge2013-14 salaryGPPointsTOI
Olli JokinenC35$4.5M824317:01
Devin SetoguchiRW27$3.0M752715:03
Michael FrolikRW26$2.3M814216:40
Chris ThorburnRW31$867K55118:57
*Keaton EllerbyD25$735K51613:54
*Matt HalischukRW26$650K461011:20
*James WrightC24$650K5929:34
Adam PardyD30$600K60614:25
Al MontoyaG29$601K28 13-8-3#

*restricted free agent

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Sources: capgeek.com, nhl.com   Ages as of Sept. 1, 2014

Moore argues there’s one must-have for the Jets in this list — Michael Frolik.

“He would be a priority for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

“There’s no risk involved. You could look at him for the long range and be very comfortable signing him to somewhere in the $3.5- to $4-million range.”

Moore likes the thought of re-signing Jokinen as a bridge to 21-year-old Adam Lowry. And though Moore thinks Al Montoya earned himself an improved contract with his play this season, it won’t be with the Jets.

“It’s not anything to do with Al. The time has passed for them to need a veteran netminder to babysit Ondrej Pavelec. I think Michael Hutchinson and Eddie Pasquale have earned the right to compete for that backup job.”

According to capgeek.com the Jets currently have about $21-million in cap room for next season. He’s bearish on the supply of impact players that will be available. And he figures it is not what the Jets need anyway. They will be chasing better players for the third and fourth lines.

“Now that Maurice has shown what he’s looking for, if I’m Eric Tangradi, if I’m Anthony Peluso, if I’m Matt Halischuk, I’d be making sure I was in the best shape of my life coming into training camp.”

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RELATED: Head coach Maurice’s future with Winnipeg Jets to be decided soon

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