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After spending $93 million in a week, Jets GM says owners ‘committed to building a winner’

Jul 29, 2013, 7:14 PM EDT

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It’s been a busy — and spendy — last seven days for the Winnipeg Jets.

Faced with three key restricted free agents heading to salary arbitration, the club made a big financial commitment by locking up the trio — defenseman Zach Bogosian, forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler — for a combined $93 million.

That dollar figure, said GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, is a sign of ownership’s faith in the club.

“Fans in Winnipeg should know that [True North Sports and Entertainment's] Mark Chipman and David Thomson are committed to building a winner in this city,” Cheveldayoff said in his post-Bogosian contract presser.

“Ownership has shown a commitment to this team.”

That commitment began with re-signing Little last Monday to a five-year, $23.5 million deal.

Little, 25, had seven goals and 25 assists for the Jets in 2013, appearing in all 48 regular-season games and winning a team-high 431 faceoffs. His $4.7 million cap hit was, temporarily, the second highest among forwards on the club, behind only Evander Kane ($5.25 million.)

Temporarily, because Wheeler’s deal was soon to follow.

On Friday, the Jets inked Wheeler to a six-year, $33.6 million deal. The 26-year-old had 19 goals and 41 points in 48 games played in 2013, leading the team in goals while finishing second in points.

Then, today, Winnipeg completed the Bogosian deal — a seven-year, $36 million extension.

Bogosian, 23, had five goals and nine assists in 2013 while averaging 23:07 of ice time in the 33 games he played last season.

The third overall pick in the 2008 draft, Bogosian now joins Wheeler, Kane, Little, Kane and Tobias Enstrom on the list of Jets signed through at least 2017-18.

Cheveldayoff acknowledged the number of similarly-aged players all locked up with similar-type deals.

“If you look at the players we signed here this summer, they are all around the same age,” he explained. “We need to keep growing and pushing.”

While it would’ve been difficult for Winnipeg to either give up or head to salary arbitration with a No. 1 center (Little), its leading goalscorer (Wheeler) and possibly its best defenseman (Bogosian), many are wondering if the Jets have invested too much in a core that, while talented, has failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons after moving from Atlanta in 2011.

Cheveldayoff said that nobody can judge these investments until the Jets get back onto the ice next season.

“How close are we [to a Cup]? I don’t know,” he said. “You have to see the product on the ice.

“No awards, no trophies, no wins or losses happen in June, July, August and September. The real evaluation process starts when you drop the puck.”

  1. sampulls - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Great players – now they have to produce!

  2. spr41 - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I dunno know seems like too much to me. I mean, is a line of Little, Kane and Wheeler really a #1 line? Excellent 2nd line but compare them to the other Top lines of other teams and I just don’t see it. IMO, no this is not a Championship team they are now going to have unrealistic expectations from their best players to overachieve and prove their salaries….. just don’t see it working out.

    • 19to77 - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      The weak point on that line is Little. Good though he is, he’s not a true #1 centre. Put Wheeler and Kane on a line with a truly elite playmaker and it would produce. Their centre depth isn’t great after Little either. The defense is also thin for the amount of money invested in it. It’s a good team, but not a great one. Their situation’s not bad, though. Jokinen’s $4.5m comes off the books at the end of next season and the cap most likely rises again. They’ll have room next summer to add some big salaries if they want to pursue top-level talent. In the meantime, they have a year to evaluate what they’re good at and where they need to improve.

    • lorem ipsum dolor sit amet - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      The top line for the Jets is Little, Wheeler and Ladd, Kane rarely, if ever, played on the top line.

      Last year that line was ranked #5 as a scoring line in the NHL.

  3. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Chevy’s got 2 years under his belt as GM in Winnipeg. Some might argue that this team isn’t all that removed from the Trashers, which is true. The thing is, the Wild were in very much the same position when GM Fletcher came in 5 years ago. Risebrough left Fletcher with hardly pretty much no blue-chip prospects in the pool, and the team scraped by year after year by picking up discarded 3rd and 4th liners. Fletcher came in and started drafting players and making some shrewd moves (Barker for Leddy aside), and all of a sudden 4 years later they’re not looking too shabby. The Jets are taking the smart route in player development with Scheifele and Trouba, and they had a fantastic draft year in 2013 to boot. Give them a few years and I have little doubt that they will be a playoff contender, if not for the Cup. GO JETS GO!!!

  4. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    While it’s a lot of money to invest in a bunch of players who haven’t been able to get over the playoff hump, the good thing is most of these players haven’t reached their ceilings. Especially Bogosian. And everyone knows most defenders don’t reach their full potential til they’re 25-26. Little, 25, and Wheeler, 26, are just entering their respective primes. Enstrom is a like a younger Timonen. And if Kane keeps his head on straight he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. They’re led by a solid player in Ladd. While Byfluglien and Pavelec are the wildcard core pieces.

    They haven’t made the playoffs in Winnipeg but they do have a solid foundation. And if Scheifele is the real deal I could definitely see the Jets finally reaching the playoffs.

  5. modellforprez - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    OK damn Cheyvlaedyffoadzyf thats fantastic buddy. i mean that core of players will def net you a cup here within a few years id say just wouldnt bet on it

  6. desertfan - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    And don’t forget Trouba and Scheifle!!!

  7. pavelfitzgerald - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    The Jets have establiahed & continue to develop a very promising core. Add Schieffle & Trouba to the mix this year & you have a team with playoff aspirations.

    The year after you could also add Adam Lowry who is the reigning WHL player of the year. This team is on the right track

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      What have you heard in the media re: Scheif and Trouba? WFP seems to think they could both have a shot of making the team in September, but there doesn’t seem to be any overt confidence that either could make the squad. That’s not as troubling for Trouba since he’s only 19 and plays D. However, after the way Scheifele stacked up points in the regular season and playoffs for Barrie, shouldn’t there be a greater expectation for him to make it to the Show this year, especially on a team weak up the middle? Just curious, since I don’t live in Winnipeg anymore and I’m too cheap to pay for their papers.

  8. crosbyhasgonorrhea - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    “No awards, no trophies, no wins or losses happen in June, July, August and September. The real evaluation process starts when you drop the puck.”

    The Stanley Cup is awarded in June.

  9. pavelfitzgerald - Jul 31, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    I think the expectation in the media for both individuals is that they would make the team out of camp, however I don’t think this is realistic.

    I don’t think there’s any way that Scheiffle goes to Barrie. He may go to St. John’s though. I realize that many people may not agree with this opinion but remember, Chipman & Zinger (Assistant GM) cut their teeth with the Manitoba Moose in the IHL/AHL & they place a lot of importance on developing off the ice (i.e. getting used to travelling, how to beahve on the road, taking care of your body, etc.). They don’t play nearly as many games in Junior that they would at the pro level & the travel is substantially more.

    With the lack of depth at Centre for the Jets though it only makes logical sense for Schieffle to open up the season centering Kane & Setoguchi.

    Even though Trouba’s younger, management seems more keen to him starting the year with the Jets. I think he’d be great on the second pairing with Bogo. Having said all that, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either play in St. John’s this year.

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