An already busy stretch of the off-season figures to ramp up for Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff during this week’s leadup to the NHL draft in Nashville, Tenn., and then the start of free agency.
And there would seem to be a proper order for the process to unfold.
Job one has to be getting a deal made for Pierre Luc-Dubois ahead of, or at least during, Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena to take full advantage of any draft capital that might be accrued.
And by that, we mean turning draft capital into the potential acquisition of a pending restricted free agent from a salary cap-strapped team like Boston, Tampa Bay, the Rangers or possibly New Jersey.
Offloading Blake Wheeler while retaining the least of his $8.25-million cap hit prior to the closing of the buyout window on Friday is next.
One way or the other, the former captain is going to be an ex-Jet. But it might not happen before July 1, because you just get the sense the man who signs the cheques for True North Sports + Entertainment is not onside with paying a player to go away.
There is little or no chance for Cheveldayoff to at least break even when it comes to dealing one of the NHL’s best netminders in Connor Hellebuyck. But will that change to any great degree by hanging on to Hellebuyck until the trading deadline on March 1?
Which brings us to what to do about Mark Scheifele. Other than the media, and armchair GMs clamouring that it’s time for a change of scenery for No. 55, there hasn’t been the same message — publicly — from the Scheifele camp that there has been from Dubois and Hellebuyck when it comes to re-signing past this coming season.
With Calgary in the same boat as Winnipeg when it comes to an exodus of key veteran players, Philadelphia also trying to clean house, and several other teams trying to clear cap space, it has the feel of a buyer’s market right now.
So “two or three out of four ain’t bad” may have to suffice for the Jets.
At least for now.