*UPDATED: June 2018*
What are the Winnipeg Jets 15 best and 15 worst non- entry level contracts they have signed since the NHL had a salary cap? There is also some tongue in cheek humour below, but if you can’t spot what it is, I’m not going to tell you.
1- Dustin Byfuglien, Feb 11 2011, 5 years $26M: This was a huge signing for Winnipeg Jets GM Rick Dudley. He scored 53 PTS the season before signing this contract and hovered around that range for the duration. In total he scored 235 PTS in 337 GP with 1077 Shots and 830 Hits. That’s tremendous from a defenseman
2- Mark Scheifele, July 8 2016, 8 years $49M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. $6.1M AAV may not have felt like a bargain when it was first signed, but he scored 82 PTS as a 23-year-old in year one and was in the league MVP conversation by year two. At 8 years they will get to keep him at a relatively cheap price right through his prime. That’s an A.
3- Blake Wheeler, July 26 2013, 6 years $33.6M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Through 5 years Wheeler has not scored less than 61 PTS and reached 91 PTS in year five. Solid numbers for under $6M AAV.
4- Ilya Kovalchuk, Oct 8 2005, 5 years $31.9M: Signed by Jets GM Don Waddell. I’ll never forget how dangerous Kovalchuk was in a Winnipeg Jets jersey. He surpassed 50 goals twice and 40 goals 3 times in those 5 years in Winnipeg.
5- Bryan Little, July 22 2013, 5 years $23.5M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He’s been playing in Winnipeg ever since his career began and scored 248 PTS in 350 GP on this contract.
6- Andrew Ladd, July 5 2011, 5 years $22M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He scored 258 PTS in 367 GP, with 980 shots and 695 hits. He got ridiculously overpaid on his next contract as a UFA, but provided great value for Winnipeg at $4.4M AAV.
7- Blake Wheeler, July 15 2011, 2 years $5.1M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He scored 105 PTS for $5.1M. That’s a win. He got his AAV more than doubled on his next contract.
8- Jacob Trouba, Nov 7 2016, 2 years $6M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. There was some hard ball required to squeeze Trouba into this contract. They could get a decent return if they traded him, and eventually that will probably become necessary as I suspect he’ll bolt at first chance as a UFA.
9- Connor Helleybuck, July 24 2017, 1 year $2.2M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He took a big leap forward in 2018 with 44 Wins, 11 Losses, 2.36 GAA and .924 SV%. This ranks high on the bargain scale for goalies, especially considering he has been nominated for the Vezina trophy. Although had the team gone for more than just 1 year, this contract could have been even better. This goalie is going to get a big pay raise this summer.
10- Bryan Little, Aug 24, 2010, 3 years $7.1M: Signed by Jets GM Rick Dudley. This was perhaps a better bargain than Little’s 5-year contract, but the other ranks higher up the list because he had greater production in those seasons.
11- Rich Peverly, Oct 20 2009, 2 years $2.6M: Signed by Jets GM Don Waddell. On this contract, Richie scored 83 PTS in 139 GP in the regular season, adding 17 PTS in 32 playoff GP while helping Boston win the Stanley Cup.
12- Maxim Afinogenov, Sept 29 2009, 1 year $800K: Signed by Jets GM Don Waddell. He scored 61 PTS that season in Winnipeg. That was a real bargain for the Jets.
13- Mathieu Perreault, July 1 2014, 3 years $9M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Perreault has been a strong contributor since arriving in Winnipeg. Over these 3 seasons he played 198 games with 40 Goals and 127 PTS in the regular season.
14- Dustin Byfuglien, Feb 8 2016, 5 years $38M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. The best news for Jets fans is that this contract could have been 8 years long and is not. At age 32 with 3 seasons left on the deal, Byfuglien is still a top defenseman and a physical beast of a man.
15- Kyle Wellwood, Sep 9 2011, 1 year $700K: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Whatever you want to say about Wellwood, he had the best season of his career (77 GP, 47 PTS) at a bargain price. In Vancouver before arriving in Winnipeg, he scored 52 PTS over 149 GP, which helps illustrate his dramatic improvement. Although his NHL career would not last much longer.
1- Zach Bogosian, July 29 2013, 7 years $36M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Jets rushed Bogosian into the NHL and wound up giving him an expensive extension at age 23. In the first five years of this contract he hasn’t played more than 64 games. Hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He also had problems staying healthy before this contract, so the Jets got what they paid for.
2- Bobby Holik, Aug 2 2005, 3 years $12.75M: When you account for salary cap inflation that AAV is nearly $8M in 2017 numbers. Not a great investment for Jets GM Don Waddell. That’s a bit expensive for an average of 32 PTS. I will always fondly remember Holik’s days in Winnipeg but not everyone does.
3- Ondrej Pavelec, June 25 2012, 5 years $19.5M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He had one good season under this contract with 50 GP and 2.28 GAA, .920 SV%. His 2nd best of those 5 seasons had a 2.78 GAA and .904 SV%. He was not an elite starting goalie and made too much money at the position for the team to bring in a legit veteran starter.
4- Ron Hainsey, July 2 2008, 6 years $22.5M: Signed by Jets GM Don Waddell. This was just way too much money for what Hainsey provides and was not a solid investment for the Jets organization.
5- Tobias Enstrom, July 27 2012, 5 years $28.8M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He was good that the beginning of this contract, and then slipped a bit each year. Over these 5 seasons his point totals were (30, 23, 16, 14, and 6). Injuries did contribute to his decline. By the end, he couldn't even get on the ice when healthy.
6- Steve Mason, July 1 2017, 2 years $8.2M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Mason’s first year in Winnipeg was a 100% bust with a 3.24 GAA and .906 SV%. Some may argue that the Mason acquisition brought out the best in Helleybuck, and that it’s worthwhile for that reason, which is entirely hypothetical and impossible to prove.
7- Slava Kozlov, July 4 2007, 3 years $11M: Signed by Don Waddell. Kozlov had one good season out of three, and outside of that was a waste of money. I doubt that Jets fans will look back on the Kozlov era in Winnipeg with any degree of fondness as the team missed the playoffs all those years.
8- Dmitri Kulikov, July 1 2017, 3 years $13M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. In his first season in Winnipeg, Kulikov did nothing to contribute to the team’s playoff success. He barely played in the playoffs and was nothing more than a depth defenseman to that point. This is too pricey for a depth player.
9- Drew Stafford, June 30 2015, 2 years $8.7M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He did score 21 Goals in year one, but dropped down to 8 Goals in 58 GP in year two after a significant reduction in ice time.
10- Shawn Matthias, July 1 2016, 2 years $4.2M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. In year one he had 12 PTS in 45 GP, which is not what the Jets were hoping for when they signed him. Year two he was even worse with 3 PTS in 27 GP.
11- Grant Clitsome, July 3 2013, 3 years $6.2M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He scored 12 PTS in 32 GP in year one and had played 24 games with 4 PTS before a back injury ended his career. While there may be an injury asterix on this one, he was also at his lowest career points per game at the time of the injury.
12- Mark Stuart, Mar 5 2014, 4 years 10.5M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He got worse each year under this contract before being bought out. He left North America to play in Germany.
13- Jim Slater, June 23 2012, 3 years $4.8M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. He scored 21 PTS the season before signing this contract, then proceeded to score 17 PTS in 135 GP over 3 seasons.
14- Niclas Havelid, Jun 7 2006, 3 years $8.1M: Signed by Jets GM Don Waddell. That’s a bit pricey for 54 PTS over 3 seasons, with an AAV closer to $4.5M after adjusting for cap inflation. Not the worst contract ever, but a solid D-.
15- Olli Jokinen, July 2 2012, 2 years $9M: Signed by Kevin Cheveldayoff. That’s a bit expensive for 57 PTS in 127 GP. In year one he was a dud, year two he was narrowly worth his salary.