The Winnipeg Jets are in the worst position possible. Winnipeg is not one of those elite that will always be in the playoffs, but they are not bad enough to be in the draft lottery so a rebuild is necessary. The Jets are right in the middle.
Winnipeg is just good enough to get into the playoffs and lose in the first or miss the playoffs by a couple of points. That is not a place where teams need to be if they want to get better.
Thus trying to have a rebuild in Winnipeg is nearly impossible, especially after what some of their top players said during their media availability after cleaning out their lockers for the summer.
As ESPN NHL Analyst Ray Ferraro on the Ray and Dregs podcast said it is hard to go backwards because Winnipeg has good players. He brings up a good point, how do you turn it around without going backwards?
Especially when the players in the locker room have no interest in a rebuild.
Kyle Connor: “I don’t think anybody in this locker room wants to be part of a rebuild. I just want to play for a team that has a chance at a Stanley Cup.”
Connor Hellebuyck: “I just want to win a cup. I don’t know what the future of this team looks like. I don’t know what their plans are. I don’t know if I’m in it.” “I’m not interested in a rebuild.”
There is in lies the problem. If two maintains on the Jets roster have no interest in a rebuild. Then what does general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff do?
There is uncertainty surrounding the Jets and their future. With players like Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele, Connor Hellebuyck, and Blake Wheeler about to be free agents, the Jets can’t let these players walk into free agency.
As Hellebuyck noted in his press conference, he would not sign long-term in Winnipeg if he feels this team is going to rebuild and not compete every season.
Competing is great, but getting deep in the playoffs is what is all about. Nashville is in the same position as the Jets. Stuck in the mirky middle. Eventually, a direction needs to be taken. And if certain players do not want a rebuild, then it may be time to reshape the team and get assets for them.
Because being in the mirky middle does not get your team better.
We know change is coming in Winnipeg. It is just a matter of when at this point. It feels like a rebuild is needed in Winnipeg. The question is can Cheveldayoff pull it off?