Since the Winnipeg Jets have returned to The Gateway to the West, I have been a man divided. Constantly at odds with myself, I spent the majority of the 2011-12 season mulling over different scenarios through internalization. Burning questions etched themselves in my mind as I struggled to understand whether certain on-ice trends were aberrations or whether they spoke to the overall theme that the year would entail.
This offseason, things have not improved. More and more these questions linger as I struggle to answer them the best I can.
Over the next week, I will highlight the five most important questions surrounding the Winnipeg Jets as the 2012-13 regular season approaches, through the act of inner dialogue.
In our first edition, we tackle the ongoing contract negotiations of current restricted free agent Evander Kane.
Say brainless, I bet you figured Evander Kane would have signed his new contract with the Jets by now. What gives!?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that negotiations would have been wrapped up by now, but you know as well as I do that this signing was going to be a long and drawn out process. Management has tendered him an offer which they deem sufficient compensation for the skills that he brings to this team, whereas Kane and his agents feel that his worth is being undervalued. Keep in mind that up until late August, notable restricted free agents such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Kyle Turris we also still unsigned by their clubs. In fact, Jamie Benn (Stars) P.K. Subban (Canadiens) and John Carlson (Capitals) -- all RFA's -- are still without contracts as well.
Things aren't as dire as they may appear.
Blah, blah, blah. Nothing I haven't heard before. If he wanted to stay in Winnipeg he'd have signed his extension by now. So when can we expect him to put ink to paper and finalize this thing?
Ahh, an easy question. I don't know.
You're a tool.
One would figure that True North Sports and Entertainment will want to get this deal locked up before Friday. No doubt you've had September 15th circled with daggers on your calendar the past few months as it symbolizes the dawn of the NHL lockout. With said lockout comes a heap of uncertainty. What will the leagues financial landscape look like going forward? Will there be a maximum contract length implemented with the new CBA? Should both parties not come to an agreement by Friday, TNSE, Kane and fans of the team will enter contract purgatory. Until a new CBA is agreed upon, rosters and team funds will be frozen. Kane will remain an RFA until either the owners or NHLPA can compromise. And that could take a long, long time.
Woah! Bold prediction, hotshot! I fear asking you how much he's going to make with his next deal, since you're just going to dance around the question.
Well, let's look at players comparable to Kane: Jeff Skinner signed at a cap hit of 5.7MM. Max Pacioretty's cap hit is 4.5MM. Both Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle possess a cap hit of 6MM. Together those players rake in an annual sum of 22.2MM; a 5.55MM average. My assumption is that Kane will sign for an annual average value of around 5.25MM, and, again assuming he gets the 6 years apparently offered to him by the Jets, his total salary will be 31.5MM. Not too bad for a 30 goal scorer.
Well, that makes sense. Being the idiot you are I thought you would make the argument that he was worth over 6MM. And yeah, he did score 30 goals last year, but will Kane live up to that potential and earn that full 31.5MM you're quoting?
I don't see why not. Think of this: Kane ranked fourth on the Jets roster with a TOI/60 of 14.74, behind Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little who formed the team's first line. Such was also the case on the power play where Kane found himself playing second unit behind the trio listed above. I'm led to believe that after being rewarded with a one-way ticket out of Claude Noel's Chateau Bow-Wow and the addition of Olli Jokinen to the fold that Kane will not only be given more of an opportunity to excel on this roster, but also a stronger set of linemates for him to work with. Kane is only scratching the surface of his potential and while I'm wary of predicting 40 goal outputs from the recently turned 20 year old, it's easy to fathom future seasons of 30+ goals, should he remain in Winnipeg.
"Should he remain in Winnipeg!?" What the hell man!? You're saying that he might demand a trade?
Anything is possible, though I don't believe it to be probable. The rumour mongers have run rampant with Kane news this summer, from Renaud Lavoie of RDS to Julie Stewart-Binks of CTV Regina. Is it a case of where there's smoke there's fire? Perhaps. Could these be the inner of Kane's camp planting bluffs in the media trying to up the ante on TNSE? Maybe. The only people who truly know whether or not Kane is malcontent are the parties closest to these negotiations.
It's hard to believe there is another NHL team that can give Kane the opportunity to be the franchise like Winnipeg can. If he wants to be a secondary role player elsewhere, that's his prerogative; but it won't fly here. And, as an RFA, TNSE currently holds all the cards as to where he plays and when he cashes his cheques.