The Winnipeg Jets have been in the NHL since 2011 and finally decided to put on pants this weekend. They finally decided to address weaknesses by signing a starting goalie to a short term contract and finding a defenceman to improve their bottom pairing. But the Jets do not put on regular pants; instead they put on pants that draw attention because they are kind of confusing.
First of all, signing Steve Mason to a two-year contract was a great move. Mason may not want to be in a tandem situation, but he signed knowing Connor Hellebuyck is in the Jets plans and will need to play to continue to develop as a goalie. Mason struggled after his rookie season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and he did not bounce back until he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round pick and Michael Leighton in 2013. Mason has since re-found his game and was strong for Philadelphia until injuries derailed him a bit this year.
On the other hand, Dmitry Kulikov might be a bit of an over-payment for a player who spent a large amount of last season injured and only recorded five points when healthy. He is almost certainly an over-payment with a three year, $12.3 million contract. Kulikov should be more than what he showed last season, but that is not the type of contract you give a player who has to prove themselves again. The Jets have a lot of contracts coming up in the next two off-seasons and contracts like Kulikov’s make it harder to envision how the Jets are going to move forward with potential albatrosses like this one sitting there.
This is what the Jets have done. They have made some necessary moves, but not the smartest ones when it comes to a year or two down the road. They have addressed a need that they have had since their days in Atlanta and while the contract is bad, there is nothing wrong with bringing in Kulikov overall. The Jets smartly used free agency to address their needs, but they might have identified the wrong players to fill those needs.