This summer has been a whirlwind for Jets fans, and the name Connor Hellebuyck swirls amongst the others spinning in the rumour mill.
The veteran goalkeeper has played 8 seasons with the Jets thus far; starting a majority of games in every season but his first, captured the Vezina trophy in 2019 and was a finalist for the award last season. However the keeper has a contract extension due in 2023-2024, one Hellebuyck has indicated he has no interest in.
This raises the question: should the Jets get what they can for a disgruntled player?
Hellebuyck’s contract doesn’t contain a no-trade clause, aiding the Jets in finding a suitor. With a top 3 goalie league-wide last year, it seems clear that teams should be lining up for the 3-time all-star. Nonetheless, one looming factor is scaring potential buyers: the contract extension.
Hellebuyck is owed $6.16 million next season, and will likely demand a similar yearly salary in the following offseason. At 30 years old, the netminder certainly has some great years left, but his ceiling may have already been reached in years past.
But who knows, maybe someone will end up scooping Hellebuyck up. It's rumoured that the Penguins, Red Wings, Sabres, Hurricanes, Senators and Islanders could be in the goalie market this off-season. Even Toronto has shown up in these trade rumours. Providing that the market isn't watered down by a possible trade of John Gibson from Anaheim or Jacob Markstrom from Calgary, maybe someone is willing to pay over $6 million for Hellebuyck.
With the Jets franchise focusing on depth and youth, there’s an argument that locking the goalie into a long, expensive contract is moving in the wrong direction. After all, Hellebuyck has no interest in being a part of a rebuilding team.
Hellebuyck's done his time and at 30 years old it's time to get serious and start playing with a team that can give him a real shot at winning the Stanley Cup. We can all agree that he's good enough to play on that level but maybe he's right and the Winnipeg Jets are the wrong team for those playoff aspirations. After all, neither the old Winnipeg Jets team nor the new one imported from Atlanta has ever won a Stanley Cup.
The real question is whether the Winnipeg Jets should continue giving up their star players that are, quite frankly, tired of losing, or if the team pulls up its socks and finally goes for another decent playoff run. It's now been a solid six years since the Jets have had a good playoff run and it's no surprise that the players are getting antsy - the fans are too.
What do you think? Should Hellebuyck stay or is it time to cut a star goalie loose?