With the Winnipeg Jets' playoff hopes hanging by a thread, growing media speculation suggests roster changes could be coming during the off-season. First-line center Mark Scheifele has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate.
Scheifele, 29, was the Jets' first-round pick (seventh overall) following their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. He went on to become one of their best offensive stars, leading them since his 2013-14 rookie season with 227 total goals while sitting second in points with 572.
This season, however, Scheifele had an inconsistent first half where he was outplayed at times by second-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. His offense has improved over the second half but Mike McIntyre of The Winnipeg Free Press pointed out his indifferent commitment to the defensive side of the game.
McIntyre suggested a “full-scale audit” of the club could be necessary if the Jets miss the post-season. TSN's Darren Dreger suggested there could be an appetite for change involving Scheifele if management looks to shake up the roster core.
Dubois is expected to be re-signed while Kyle Connor's 41-goal performance this season makes him untouchable. Despite injuries, Nikolaj Ehlers' improvement over the past two seasons could make him too valuable to move. Blake Wheeler, 35, is difficult to trade given his age, his $8.25-million cap hit through 2023-24 and a full no-movement clause.
Cap Friendly indicates Scheifele has two more seasons remaining on his contract with a $6.125-million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list. Despite his on-ice difficulties this season, he'd draw considerable interest in this summer's trade market. The New York Post's Larry Brooks suggested Scheifele as a good addition to the Rangers if Ryan Strome or former Jet Andrew Copp depart via free agency in July.