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SportWhen will Jets sign Laine, Connor?

02:00  01 september  2019
02:00  01 september  2019 Source:   nbcsports.com

McDavid thinks unsigned RFAs need 'one domino to fall'

McDavid thinks unsigned RFAs need 'one domino to fall' Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid believes the NHL's current crop of unsigned restricted free agents will reach their respective agreements in bunches. "It's obviously a unique situation where there's a lot of star players that are sitting out right now," McDavid said Monday, according to NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger. "I think it'll just take one domino to fall and they'll all fall pretty quick. But someone's going to have to set that mark." The list of RFAs that remain without a deal includes Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, Brock Boeser, Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, Mikko Rantanen, and Matthew Tkachuk, among others.

With the NHL season fast approaching, TSN's Sara Orlesky shares her sense of how much pressure the Jets may be feeling to get Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor

Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor |Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. With Copp now signed , and his arbitrator-decided deal coming mere days after Winnipeg locked Jacob-Trouba-trade-return Neal Pionk in on a two-year, -million contract, the Jets now find themselves about to enter the second month of

Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Winnipeg Jets.

When will Jets sign Laine, Connor?© Getty Images

Let’s ponder three questions facing the Jets:

1. When will the team sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor?

Want to dominate headlines and sports radio in a Canadian market during the offseason? Simply wait to sign a new contract.

While a lot of attention has been on Mitch Marner’s situation in Toronto, it’s Laine and Connor who’ve taken center stage in Winnipeg.

Maurice: Pressure to sign Laine, Connor will mount as season nears

Maurice: Pressure to sign Laine, Connor will mount as season nears Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice knows the tension surrounding Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor's contract negotiations will only increase as the club gets closer to convening for the 2019-20 season. "The pressure on both sides kind of comes at the same time, that the closer you get to the season, the more pressure comes on the team and the player to get a contract signed," Maurice told NHL.com's Tim Campbell. "We'll see that mount and we're hopeful (they'll be signed) by the time the puck drops. You want everybody at camp, absolutely, but you really hope everybody's done by the time the season starts." Winnipeg's training camp begins Sept. 13.

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NHL insider Nick Kypreos joins the Starting Lineup to discuss the huge RFA decision the Winnipeg Jets will have to make between both Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor .

Both are restricted free agents without new deals as training camp fast approaches. On one hand, it’s not all that surprising given the landscape with RFAs at the moment. Laine and Connor are just two names on a long list of big-ticket players who’ve played the waiting game with their respective teams.

But in a hockey-mad city, it’s led to a lot of speculation, fuelled further by the posturing that naturally arises.

It’s unlikely that either play anywhere but Winnipeg next year, but when will they play among the highest concerns. The Jets need to sort out some things in their top six in training camp, and both Laine and Connor are fixtures in that group.

For their success this season, they need both signed before camp begins.

2. How will the team fair on defense?

Heated seat switched on for Jets’ Paul Maurice

Heated seat switched on for Jets’ Paul Maurice The Jets head coach is feeling the pressure to win.

Jets Make Connor Hellebuyck the Sixth-Highest Paid Goalie With New Six-Year Contract. The Winnipeg Jets locked up their goalie of the future, giving restricted free agent netminder Connor Hellebuyck a six-year, million contract, the team announced Thursday.

The Winnipeg Jets announced they have agreed to terms with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on a six-year, million contract with an average annual value of .167 million.

Some context: Take a middle-of-the-pack blue, subtract one of your top-pairing defenders and two veteran depth pieces and what are you left with?

The answer? Who knows.

Losing Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot in one offseason is going to hurt any team. Losing them all in the span of a couple of weeks? Ouch.

Even if Myers and Chiarot aren’t premier blueliners, it still stings when half of your defensemen are their traded or leave in free agency.

The Jets couldn’t afford to keep Myers or Chiarot — and they’re better off for it based on what those two are making. Trouba, meanwhile, seemed destined to leave since he demanded a trade three years ago.

[MORE: Maurice under pressure]

Regardless of the reasons, the Jets are left with a very unproven bunch outside of Josh Morrissey and Dustin Byfuglien. Nathan Beaulieu re-upped with the team after being acquired at the deadline and showed well when Morrissey missed a big chunk of time down the stretch due to injury.

Jets, Morrissey have discussed long-term extension

Jets, Morrissey have discussed long-term extension The Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Josh Morrissey have begun negotiating a long-term contract extension, he told The Athletic's Ken Wiebe. "We chatted a little bit throughout the last couple weeks and throughout the summer," he said. "It's just kind of the process of how it goes. You've been through contract negotiations, so you know how it works." Morrissey is entering the final season of a two-year, $6.3-million bridge deal he signed last September. The 24-year-old was limited to just 59 games in 2018-19 due to injury but still managed to post a career-high 31 points while averaging 22:24 minutes per night. He's adamant about being with the team for years to come.

Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor combined to score 64 regular-season goals last year, which amounts to Not so with Toronto's William Nylander, who wasn't signed until hours before the ultimate deadline of Dec. A similar situation with either Laine or Connor , or both, would be a nightmare for the Jets

So with Connor and Laine now the last two Jets remaining at the bargaining table, the waters surrounding Winnipeg’s cap space have become quite clear. Unfortunately for the Jets there are sharks circling in those waters, threatening to turn this situation into a feeding frenzy.

Neal Pionk, who came Winnipeg’s way in the Trouba deal with the New York Rangers remains a mystery. Dmitry Kulikov is a stop-gap and the team will have to employ someone, likely Sami Niku, in a bigger role this season.

The dust will settle in training camp, but there’s a lot of questions needing answers on the back end.

3. Will Connor Hellebuyck return to his Vezina finalist form?

Hellebuyck went from finishing as a runner up to Pekka Rinne for the Vezina in 2017-18 to being outplayed by his backup a season later.

All of Hellebuyck’s stats took a downturn, from his five-on-five save percentage dropping 11 points from .931 to .920, his overall save percentage dropping from .924 to .913, along with decreases in his high-danger save percentage.

And then there are his goals save above average, which went from being above average at 2.16 in 2017-18 to well below it in 2018-19 at -6.91.

No one saw more shots than Hellebuyck at five-on-five, a testament to Winnipeg’s poor play in front of him, especially in the second half of the season.

With questions on the blue line coming into this season, Hellebuyck will be up against it to rebound from a down year.

Jets sign kicker Sam Ficken to replace ineffective Kaare Vedvik

Jets sign kicker Sam Ficken to replace ineffective Kaare Vedvik The Jets signed Sam Ficken after the short-lived Kaare Vedvik Experiment blew up in their face. Gang Green worked out five kickers on Tuesday before settling on Ficken to replace Vedvik. Greg Joseph, Elliott Fry, Younghoe Koo and Tristan Vizcaino also had tryouts two days after Vedvik missed a PAT and 45-yard field goal in his Jets debut in a season-opening loss to the Bills, according to sources. Ficken, who was waived by the Packers during final cuts, made his lone field goal attempt (41 yarder) and all five PATs for Green Bay in the preseason. He kicked two games for the Rams last season while Pro Bowler Greg Zeurlein was hurt.

Jets sign Connor Hellebuyck. by Winnipeg Jets Press Release @WpgJetsPR / WinnipegJets.com. Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Jets announced they have agreed to terms with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on a one-year contract with an average annual value of ,250,000.

Jets sign Kyle Connor . by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets . Connor , 19, just completed his freshman season at the University of Michigan where he amassed an NCAA-leading 71 points (35G, 36A) in 38 games.

MORE:

ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker

Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien granted leave of absence.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Veteran defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has been granted a leave of absence by the Winnipeg Jets and there is no timetable for his return. © APARC Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien celebrates after scoring during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series against the St. Louis Blues Sunday, April 14, 2019, in St. Louis. The Jets won 6-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) As expected, restricted free agent forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor did not show up for the first day of training camp Friday as they seek new contracts, but Byfuglien came as a surprise.

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