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Jets Pausing Contract and Trade Talks for Scheifele, Hellebuyck

As the season draws closer and the demand for Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele has waned, the Jets are pausing trade and contract talks.

Kevin Cheveldayoff, the Winnipeg Jets’ general manager, has reiterated that they are keeping all options open concerning their star goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck, and top center, Mark Scheifele. But for now, it appears the team will stop talking extensions with the players and it looks like any trade talks will have to wait unless another comes calling with an offer that is too good to ignore.

Both Scheifele and Hellebuyck have been the subjects of trade speculation over the summer, primarily because they are entering the final year of their contracts. This situation often prompts teams to make a decisive move—either secure the player with a contract extension or trade them to avoid losing them in free agency. As Mike McIntyre of The Winnipeg Free Press wrote, “Typically, teams will want to fish or cut bait in those situations…” But, there’s also the matter of focusing on the season and not letting the lingering contract issues and trade speculation become a distraction.

Related: Notable Change In Negotiating Positions for Hellebuyck and Jets

McIntyre also quotes GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who noted that the team will refocus their efforts on winning and not the impending futures of both players. “We’ll have whatever discussions we need to have, or can have, or will have, but the focus is winning,” Cheveldayoff said. He added, “We’ll take the contract side of things and we’ll put it off to the side here.”

Mark Scheifele Connor Hellebuyck Jets
Mark Scheifele Connor Hellebuyck Jets

The Jets made deals to improve the team. While some will argue that trading Pierre-Luc Dubois was a move made out of necessity (and it was), it’s hard to ignore the pieces the Jets got back. Specifically, they landed Gabriel Vilardi and Alex Iafallo as part of the deal. Both will help immediately. Cheveldayoff emphasized the team’s primary objective of winning, and that trade demonstrates he’s not exaggerating.

So, for now, he’s setting aside contract negotiations. He conveyed this during discussions with representatives for Scheifele and Hellebuyck that the focus remains on achieving success on the ice, with contract talks planned for an appropriate time in the future. In other words, ‘Sign now, or we’ll deal with this later.’

Jets Are Taking a Risk, But There’s Still Time

While going into the season without these players signed or traded is a bit of a risk, the sheer process of making it public that there’ll be no further talks (at least for a while) removes some of the pressure. Depending on how the start of the season goes, there’s still time to revisit things. It makes sense from an asset-management perspective too, as currently, there is limited demand for them.

The timeframe for potential trades involving Hellebuyck and Scheifele appears to be from December to February. Once the season is underway, the Jets can assess their competitiveness and leverage teams looking to bolster their rosters for a playoff push. The key consideration is that if they wait until the trade deadline, their negotiating position may be weaker, as other teams will be aware that Hellebuyck and Scheifele are set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer.

Next: Reporter Says Maple Leafs Looking for Jack Eichel-Type Trade

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