The Winnipeg Jets can extend 3 players before 2022 free agency

The second half of the 2021-22 NHL season is underway and contract talks and extension have become a major topic. The Winnipeg Jets have 11 contracts expiring at the end of the season, and here’s a breakdown of why these three players, specifically, deserve to receive an extension this summer.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Pierre-Luc Dubois, otherwise known as “PLD,” has become a fan favourite in Winnipeg. Acquired in blockbuster deal that sent Patrik Laine – the Jets’ second overall pick in 2016 – and Jack Roslovic to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dubois has quickly become one of the team’s stars. He had 20 points last season (eight goals and 12 assists) in 41 games. He has played a bigger role this season with 26 points (15 assists, 11 goals) in 33 games.

Dubois is a fantastic two-way power forward, who adds versatility and excellent puck handling to the lineup. Dubois was often compared with the LA Kings captain and superstar in his draft year. Anze Kopitar was the leader of the Kings to two Stanley Cup Championships.

Brenden Dillon, Pierre Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois celebrate a goal in Winnipeg Jets’s game (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images).

Dubois currently has a $5,000,000 average annual value (AAV), and will be seeking a raise during negotiations. While he deserves the raise, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to balance a new deal with other contracts, like Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor’s, which could make negotiations a bit tough. As the Jets’ centre of the future – behind Scheifele – the Jets should offer Dubois between $7 million – $8.5 million AAV on a long-term deal.

One way for the Jets to make sure this happens is to buy out Blake Wheeler’s contract. This should allow Dubois to have enough cap space and free up money for other long-term players. The Jets currently hold $8.4 million of cap space.

Andrew Copp

The Ann Arbor, Michigan product has been a staple on the Jets’ second and third lines for the last eight seasons. Andrew Copp is a Swiss Army knife. He is versatile and can be used in any situation. In August 2021 Copp signed a new contract with JetsOn a one-year contract at a AAV of $3.640,000. Negotiations are likely already under way with his contract due to expire this offseason.

Copp achieved career-highs last season in assists, goals and points. Copp was a key contributor to the team’s success in 55 games with 39 points (25 goals, 24 assists). He has had his ice-time increase and was given time on the power play. In 33 games, he has 22 goals and 14 assists for this season. He is on track to surpassing all of his career highs.

Copp could walk free if the Jets fail to agree on a long-term contract. This would be a major loss as Copp is a key player for the team. They should offer him an AAV of 4 million and a four-year contract. This should be enough to satisfy both sides and keep him in Winnipeg.

Evgeny Svechnikov

Although Evgeny Skechnikov may be controversial, his potential is not being fully tapped. He was drafted 19th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2015 NHL Draft but couldn’t prove he was a first-round talent. He played five seasons for the Red Wings, scoring 12 points in 41 games. His time was mostly spent with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League (AHL), where he was an outstanding player. However, Detroit parted ways with him at the end last season.

Related: Three Jets Free Agents Most Likely Return in 2022-23

The Jets decided to take a chance on Svechnikov. A two-way, one year contract was signedThe club will pay $750,000 AAV for Svechnikov’s services on October 13. The Jets could make a good investment in Svechnikov, with several of their forwards expected to be on the way out. He had 51 points in 2016-17 with the Griffins, scoring 20 goals and 31 assists. However, he is still not ready to play at the NHL level. The Jets are working to improve his skills.

“Let’s keep the rolling baby!”
These are wise words from Mr. Svechnikov who receives the helmet tonight after his game-opening goal!
#GoJetsGo | #WPGvsARI

He has nine points this season (three goals, six assists), in 30 games with Jets. That might not be too impressive, but it’s a solid start. Red Wings: He scored eight points in 21 games last year, and all the signs are pointing in the right directions.

The Jets would be great to lock him up for a short-term deal less than $2.5million. Svechnikov can play a crucial role for the Jets. If his stats are rising, he will receive more ice time to aid his development. However, he may decide he’s worth more than what the Jets offer; he was a surprise addition last off-season but has started to blossom into a legit NHL player and could drive a hard bargain.

There are many options

Jets management might make a big offseason splash that clears the path for the team’s future. Whether that’s a trade that involves a high-salary player or buying out Wheeler, they have enough options to ensure they bring back their best players for 2022-23. Do you agree with Cheveldayoff or think Cheveldayoff needs to shake up their core? Please comment.