While the future of the Winnipeg Jets was on display at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, the current cast begins training camp later this week. And that process will not begin without some pressing questions needing to be answered.
Without a doubt, the expiring contract status of Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck has been the focal talking point surrounding the Jets all summer long. And it will continue to remain the starting point of any conversation until there is clarity to one or both of those franchise-altering scenarios.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has made it abundantly clear: Scheifele and Hellebuyck aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And even though the names of Brenden Dillon, Dylan DeMelo, Laurent Brossoit, and Nino Niederreiter haven’t been mentioned as frequently, I would suspect that mindset will apply to that quartet as well.
Time is ticking toward Thursday’s first on-ice session of training camp, when it’s expected #55 and #37 will speak, at least publicly, for the first time since all the talk began about their uncertain futures in Winnipeg.
What about some other questions going into season 13?
Barring any early injuries, I’d say 20 of the 23 roster spots are pretty much in place. But how will each of those pieces be assembled in terms of the top and bottom six forward combinations?
How will the battle for those 12th and 13th positions — in particular up front — shake out between the likes of Rasmus Kupari, David Gustafsson, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Jeffrey Viel, and possibly Jansen Harkins and Dominic Toninato?
Will it be Kyle Capobianco, Logan Stanley, Ville Heinola, or Declan Chisholm staying with the big team as depth for the top six on the blue line?
The uncertainty of the six-pack of expiring contracts, the “big two” in particular, will be the storyline in these parts. And it should, because of the impact it could have, not only on this season, but who knows how many more to follow?
But there are some other subplots to debate over as well, in the leadup to Oct. 11.