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Chunk of Core Group in Winnipeg Not Expected to Return to Jets

Reports are that the Winnipeg Jets might move on from a big chunk of their core group over this NHL offseason.

The expectation in Winnipeg is that both general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and head coach Rick Bowness will be back with the team next season. That leaves a few questions about the roster, specifically, what happens with the Jets’ core four: Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele, and Connor Hellebuyck. All four could become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2024, and there’s already talk that at least a few of these players would be content with moving on this summer.

Rumors have surrounded Pierre-Luc Dubois for months. The sentiment is that he’ll wind up with the Montreal Canadiens at some point, but how quickly remains to be seen. And, the Habs won’t be the only ones kicking tires on his availability, according to Murat Ates of The Athletic.

Ates writes that the Canadiens are still the favorites to land Dubois, but also suggested a team out of the East (one that is in New York) and the Los Angeles Kings have interest. He explains:

I can’t say this with certainty but I don’t think cash is going to be the main sticking point for Pierre-Luc Dubois. I think the decision he makes this summer (and next) will be about his lifestyle on and off the ice. He strikes me as a thoughtful, intelligent person who values the life he gets to live away from the rink, too. This includes family time, offseason adventures, restaurants, fashion and more.

When it comes to Blake Wheeler, Michael Russo and Eric Duhatschek write, “The common thinking at this point is that Wheeler will be gone, and he’d probably be fine with that at this point.” They add that he’s got another season on his current deal at $8.25 million and that won’t be an easy contract to trade, especially at age 36. He was stripped of his captaincy this past offseason and he called out his coach for ripping the players –ones who showed a real lack of urgency — in the media. Wheeler is at the top of the list when it comes to players that have earned their reputation as ones with no pushback and that won’t bode well for any team that might consider taking on the last year of his deal.

Scheifele Dubois Hellbuyck Jets
Scheifele Dubois Hellbuyck Jets

Perhaps the top priorities are figuring out what to do with Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele. Hellebuyck said he’s not interested in partaking in a rebuild and wants to play where the team has a chance to win. But, it’s one thing for a team to show interest in him and take on the final season of his $6.16 million contract. It’s another taking him on knowing that he could want a huge raise when he signs his next deal. The Jets have to weigh their interest in going there with him, as do other teams. “Buffalo and New Jersey take big swings,” write the two scribes.

As for Scheifele, they write, “It sure feels like this could be the summer these two sides head for a divorce. If so, there should be no shortage of suitors, especially if the Jets let teams talk extension with him.”

Next: Offer Sheet Poses Problems for Oilers and an Evan Bouchard Deal

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