“What Me Worry?” Watching a fledgling Jets 2.0 organization take its first steps into free agent signings brings that phrase to mind. Fans have been understandably nervous with the lack of NHL experience in the front office guiding their new Jets. Is this new team of new bright, but relatively inexperienced hockey guys up to the task of moving two clubs and making the moves necessary to compete?
Comments from anxious fans have littered the internet, some openly wondering if True North was still in “AHL mode” with its low key free agent signings. While others have nervously proclaimed their faith in True North, with the proviso; “They better sign the RFA’s soon”. The source of this anxiety isn’t hard to understand, after fifteen years the beloved Jets have finally returned as if by a miracle. Every move will be scrutinized and judged harshly by 700,000 arm chair GM’s looking for and demanding success.
With all that in mind let’s take a deep breath, chant your favourite mantra and try and look at what’s happened over the last month or so with some objectivity. Since draft day the hockey and business moves have been in a word smart. Putting all fears to rest and naming the club Winnipeg Jets was a great move. It let the fans collectively exhale as the rumoured alternatives floating around where downright scary. The draft picks where clever and seemed to be part of a larger philosophy which bodes well for the future of the club. Mark Scheifelle by all accounts is on a meteoric upward trajectory, but in my mind the pick to watch is Zach Yuen. At over six feet tall, 205 lbs and with a whopping plus 41 last season, this stay at home defenceman could be the real deal.
The free agent signings where also a calm in a sea of lunacy last weekend. Namely Rypien at $700k and Glass at $750k. The pair where absolute bargains for experienced depth guys and a role player in Rypien. Again an overall philosophy seems to be guiding these moves which should calm experienced hockey fans. Building from the bottom out is never a bad idea and will pay off in spades if the Jets make the playoffs.
Now, on to the meat and Potatoes, RFA’s . Surprisingly to some Anthony Stewart was allowed to become an UFA without any qualifying offer. Although this seems strange, there are whispers that Astew didn’t fit with managements overall philosophy and was given a head start on talking with other clubs. Meanwhile Ladd, the absolute crucial lynch pin signing went down to the wire, signing a good deal for both sides at $ 22 mil over five years. Now hopefully the others will follow in short order.
The Ladd deal now solidifies the perception that the Chevy/Zinger front office can do the big deals and do them right. In my mind all is as it should be, with smart hockey guys quietly making clever calculated moves that will put the new Jets club in a position to win. Who else is looking forward to October?