The Winnipeg Jets' front office was hard at work today, extending qualifying offers to thirteen of its restricted free agents before tonight's league-imposed deadline. As the free agency period opens this Friday, Jets' General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff had until 11:59PM EST to qualify his RFA's as so they wouldn't become unrestricted and hit the open market.
Of the seventeen total restricted free agents in the Jets' system, the following were qualified:
Fowards: Alexander Burmistrov, Anthony Peluso, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Eric O`Dell, Eric Tangradi, Patrice Cormier, Tomas Kubalik
Defencemen: Arturs Kulda, Paul Postma, Zach Bogosian, Zach Redmond
Goaltenders: Edward Pasquale
Meanwhile, Chris Carrozzi (G), Jason Gregoire (F), Maxime Macenauer (F) and Will O`Neill went unqualified and will become free agents as of midnight, Wednesday June 3, 2013.
With the qualifying period out of the way, the focus will now shift to locking up core players the likes of Burmistrov, Wheeler, Little and Bogosian in hopes that none are signed to offer sheets. This task will be no simple feat as each member of the aforementioned quintet are likely to garner sizeable raises.
Furthermore, there have been unsubstantiated rumours noting that Burmistrov may be on the move to the Kontinental Hockey League after receiving a contract from his hometown Ak-Bars Kazan. As Jets' management hasn't openly denied the rumour, some fans have led to believe his days in Winnipeg could be over.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that this isn't the first time a player has threatened leaving for the KHL. Last off-season, Ondrej Pavelec was amidst a contract negotiation of his own when word broke that he would entertain jettisoning to the KHL. The rumours were ultimately quashed weeks later by the signing of his new five-year deal.
In any event, the heat is clearly on Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is in for his busiest -- if not toughest -- summer on the job.