The Winnipeg Jets were poised to be a team active over the summer, with the franchise seemingly being in limbo between contending and rebuilding. With the 2023-2024 season quickly approaching, is lack of action a cause for concern?
Talking about a team that traded one of its key pieces in Pierre-Luc Dubois as inactive may seem strange on the surface level, but the Jets were in a position to be leading the transaction charge. Hellebuyck and Scheifele are both in the last year of their deal; the team failed to secure an extension or trade with either. Sparse news has come out from either party discussing the situation, but the lack of security is dangerous for a team trying to succeed long term.
The Jets are also nearing the salary cap, with roughly 79 of their 81 million allotment spent. This doesn’t leave much flexibility to improve the team, and paying players like Nate Schmidt making 6 million dollars a year makes it even more difficult to create cap room.
These factors all make the Winnipeg Jets a huge boom or bust candidate this season. The team undeniably has swathes of talent, and their top 6 forwards can compete with any other squad league wide. Players like Gabriel Valardi and Cole Perfetti have massive upsides, but history has shown both could end up watching more of the season than they play.
Not only is the upcoming season a gamble, it will likely determine the direction of the franchise. With a successful run to the playoffs, the expiring veterans may be enticed into staying in Winnipeg. Young guns like Colby Barlow and the previously mentioned Perfetti have the potential to make this Jets squad a powerhouse. There’s only one way to find out: and that process begins with preseason, beginning on September 24th.