The Winnipeg Jets have avoided an arbitration hearing with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, signing the keeper to a 1-year, $2.25 million deal, announced early on Monday.
The Jets goaltending situation last year was rather suspect and not in the usual sense, where everyone picks on the goalies, because everyone else in front of them were terrible. No, the Jets goaltending could accurately pinpoint where the season fell out from underneath them a little, missing the playoffs yet again. Hence the reason why the Jets went out and signed Steve Mason early in free agency.
Hellebuyck got the bulk of the work in the 2017 season and his numbers ranked well, but 26 wins and 60 points in 56 appearances wasn't quite going to cut it. He was 17th among all goalies in points in the year, 59th overall in scoring, which isn't too bad considering. That would have made him into a 3rd round pick, if we were to have redone the draft.
The signing does create another bit of a logjam in the Jets' crease, heading into training camp, as they now have three goalies signed onto deals over $1 million and one of them will have to pass through waivers to head down to the minors, if required. Michael Hutchinson will likely be the third goalie in this situation, but anything can happen, as we all have seen from time to time.
|Mark Scheifele||6.125||Dustin Byfuglien||7.600||Steve Mason||4.100|
|Blake Wheeler||5.600||Toby Enstrom||5.750||Connor Hellebuyck||2.250|
|Bryan Little||4.700||Tyler Myers||5.500||Michael Hutchinson||1.150|
|Mathieu Perreault||4.125||Dmitry Kulikov||4.333|
|Shawn Matthias||2.125||Jacob Trouba||3.000|
|Adam Lowry||1.125||Ben Chiarot||1.400|
|Andrew Copp||1.000||Joshua Morrissey||0.863|
The Jets are only the second team in the bunch to have a projected 23-man roster with three goalies, the other being Ottawa, but there isn't a great deal to worry about here, as the Jets are carrying $7.5 million in cap space under the ceiling still. If the Jets were to continuing to comb through the unrestricted free agent market, they may still be able to pull something from off the shelf and afford it with more room to move.
Whether or not the Jets have solved their goaltending issues with a guy like Mason is really up for debate and of course, we won't know for sure until he hits the ice and his performances start to be measured. Surely, they had to be somewhat disappointed that Hellebuyck couldn't assume the number one mantle right away, but now they find themselves in a spot where they can be competitive within their division and they want to maximize that return for themselves and their fans.