Having missed the playoffs last season, the Winnipeg Jets hope to rebound in 2022-23. Failure to do so could result in some significant roster changes.
The Jets have declined since reaching the 2018 Western Conference final. Their disappointing 2021-22 performance sparked speculation over the futures of core players such as Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Rather than engage in a roster shakeup this summer, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hired Rick Bowness as coach. If Bowness can get the Jets back on track, it will dispel most of the trade rumors swirling around their key veterans.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen last week warned that another missed playoff or first-round exit could have real consequences for the Jets. He pointed out that Scheifele, Wheeler and Hellebuyck are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2024. Dubois will join them unless he signs a long-term extension next summer.
Rosen speculated that Cheveldayoff could attempt to get ahead of things by shopping those players next summer. If he blows up the roster core, the Jets GM could look to build around those with more term on their contracts such as Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Dubois if he agrees to a multi-year extension.
On the other hand, a big bounce-back this season followed by a deep playoff run could convince Dubois to stick around beyond 2023-24 and perhaps Scheifele and Hellebucyk too. The 36-year-old Wheeler might even be swayed to stay on an affordable short-term deal.
Tear it down or maintain the status quo. That could be the choice facing Cheveldayoff by the end of 2022-23.