Buff is far more deserving of that kind of capital, and it's not even close. Byfuglien is among the best of the best offensive defencemen in the league and can be a true game changer for a team. The alarming thing with Byfuglien's next contract is the term he could receive and the implications that might have on Winnipeg's books on the deal's back end. But when you're talking strictly money, this is what he deserves and will get, whether it's from Winnipeg or from another team.
Byfuglien is currently fourth in the league in goals by a defenceman, with 11. He has the 7th most hits by a defenceman this year with 121. His booming shot from the point will boost any team's power play and his ability to eat up big minutes is valuable to any club. Byfuglien was named to the All-Star Game in Nashville this season for a reason. Byfuglien is truly one of a kind. You need to reward players like Byfuglien, because they are hard to find. Who wouldn't want Dustin Byfuglien on their blue line?
With the cap rising, Andrew Ladd's AAV on his new contract could be in the ballpark of 6-7 million dollars. But if the Jets are only going to hand out one long-term contract with that kind of AAV, there is no question it should go to their All-Star defenceman.
It's hard to give Ladd a contract worth that amount of money because it puts him in a class amongst the likes of Taylor Hall, Milan Lucic and Bobby Ryan. All of those players are better if not significantly better than Ladd, and overpaying Ladd like that could be a tough pill to swallow for the Jets in a few years. This year Ladd has not shown that he is worth a long-term investment, whereas Byfuglien is making it harder and harder to not sign him to that kind of deal.
There definitely won't be a fire sale in Winnipeg. You won't see what transpired in Buffalo last season around the trade deadline last year.
The Jets have other pieces teams could be calling for aside from Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, the players who have been occupying most headlines. Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault are two players that would garner lots of interest from teams looking to make a playoff push. Both have reasonable cap hits and would bring lots to most teams' top- or bottom-six. Those two guys have outplayed their contracts and surpassed expectations, and the Jets should get solid returns from contending teams for them.
But Jets coach Paul Maurice has spoken highly of both and the Jets aren't looking to move them. They aren't for sale. You also can't trade every player that isn't a young guy. You need some older guys in the room to help bring in the young guns and adjust them to the culture and system that the Jets run. You can't have a bunch of young guys running around with their heads cut off with no veterans to help them along the way (the Manitoba Moose).
That being said, if worst comes to worst and the Jets can't reach extensions with Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could end up dealing both on deadline day. So in that regard, the Jets could come across as sellers to many, but the Jets aren't blowing this thing up before this year's trade deadline.
I could probably write a thousand words on this one, but I will keep it as short as I can. The Jets like to pride themselves on their "draft and develop" motto. If you talk about anything in that regard or about the Jets struggling or anything in that range, 9 out of 10 times General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will most likely reply with, "It's a process." Yes, Cheveldayoff is correct, it is a process and it can be a gruelling one when you're being patient with a sports franchise. But, if you are going to draft and develop, do it right.
For starters, the Manitoba Moose this year have been a disaster for a couple reasons. The Jets may have one of the best prospect pools in the league, but junior hockey success does not translate to automatic success in the AHL. The AHL is a league of men, not a league of 16- to 20-year-olds. The Jets coveted former junior stars that, in the midst of their first or second AHL seasons, are being thrown to the wolves and being placed in vulnerable spots. This is partially due to the fact that they don't have high-end AHL vets to show them the way. Kevin Cheveldayoff and Moose general manager Craig Heisenger need to find solid AHL players that are proven in the league, to play alongside the kids. You need to draft and develop properly, and while Winnipeg have done the drafting correctly, they now need to keep the developing on track.
This year, the Jets really goofed when it came to their handling of the team's bottom-six. They handed jobs to rookies and provided the young guns with no real competition for their spots. They let Lee Stempniak walk to provide young guys that were not really ready (Nic Petan) a place on the roster. They became a two line hockey team, which has hurt them throughout the season, especially when the team faces injuries as they are now. How nice would it be for the Jets to have Lee Stempniak in the lineup to fill in for an injured top-six guy?
The Jets need to be patient with their prospects and not go back to the franchise's old ways of rushing kids like they did in Atlanta. To be successful, Chevy needs to move the trash out onto the curb and bring in fresh bodies. Out with the Chris Thorburn's and the Anthony Peluso's (you can get rid of Stuart too on the back end). Get players that can do something in the bottom-six and make this squad a four line team.
To be successful, Chevy needs to reduce the costly mistakes he seems to make every year. Because the honeymoon is over in Winnipeg, and his job could soon be on the line.
Thanks for all the responses! Send in your Winnipeg Jets questions up until Sunday night to have them included in the Monday Mailbag!