Hey all and welcome to the Arctic Ice Hockey Mailbag! This will be a regular feature on the site, covering any questions you may have pertaining to the Winnipeg Jets. In order to kick your work weeks off right, join us every Monday for the publication of your comments along with the thought provoking responses of Tim and the snarky retorts of yours truly.
In this weeks editions, we discuss the value of Winnipeg's puck moving defensemen and Evander Kane's counter-offer in light of Jeff Skinner's signing.
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Steve P.: Do you believe the Jets have too many puck movers and too few shot blockers on defense?
Tim: This is a fun question and the answer is a bit of a "Yes" and "No". Shot blocking is great, but shot blocking alone doesn't do much for a team. To be effective, a defenseman also has to possess the ability to move the puck out of his zone, which always correlates to puck possession. In an ideal situation, a team wants its defenders to have very few opportunities at blocking shots. Elite defenders do this by controlling the play and preventing their opponents from setting up in their defensive zone.
So, do the Jets have too many puck movers? I don't think you can ever have too many puck movers, but you can have too few penalty killers. Noel prefers to save Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom for offensive minutes, which largely pulls them off the PK. Paul Postma likely won't get a ton of PK work either, so the Jets PK will likely continue to be undermanned and likely, under-skilled.
Hopefully switching up the forward units (less Glass and Slater) will make for a better PK, otherwise trading Postma for somebody a little more defensively sound will have to be seriously considered. Too many defensive liabilities is a bigger issue than too many puck movers.
Christopher W.: How do you foresee the Evander Kane situation playing out?
Trevor: Slow and steady. There have been some that have suggested that now that Jeff Skinner has signed his deal that it will expedite Kane's negotiations.
Not so fast.
Obviously, there is still some fundamental differences between the two sides that fans and MSM aren't privy to. Firstly, lets be frank: nobody can actually confirm that Kane was offered 6 years at 29MM. True North Sports and Entertainment have been mute on the contract discussions, as has Kane's camp. While Gary Lawless is a respected journalist in this community, we are largely going on his word -- which is unsubstantiated -- that this deal is on the table. Colour me pessimistic.
Let's just say that the numbers being volleyed by Lawless are true, and the offer stands at 6 years 29MM. We are still very much in the dark in relation to Kane's demands. Quite possibly, he feels he's worth more money, and with the impending 4.83 AAV that comes with this deal, he isn't wrong. 30 goal scorers don't grow on trees. Jeff Skinner (6YR 34.35MM) is a very good measuring stick for Kane as their comparables are very similar. Thus far, Kane has already earned himself at least a cool million dollar raise by holding out. By not signing the original reported contract, his total salary should continue creeping closer to that of Skinner's, proving there is no reason for him to rush into this deal. The Jets need Kane more than Kane needs them and his agents know it.
Again, we don't know what Kane is asking for. Maybe it's the term which has Kane's party reluctant to sign on the dotted line. It wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that Kane would prefer a 3-4 year deal where he can continue to post high goal totals on his way to a big payout before the age of 25. Signing a 6 year deal takes that option out of his hands.
All that said, fans shouldn't take Kane's holdout as a sign of distrust; this is merely two sides posturing for the best deal they can get. If Kane really wanted to get out of town, his best route would be to be vocal about his distaste for Winnipeg and demand a trade rather than sit idly by hoping for another team to sign him to an offer sheet, which in 99.9% of cases, would be matched by TNSE anyway.
I have preached patience before and will do so again. Kane will remain a member of the Winnipeg Jets, but it might take longer than anticipated for the dotting of i's and crossing of t's.