This is the latest profile for THN Hot Seat, a series of THN.com columns where we have identified one member from each NHL team who will handle a notable amount of pressure in the 2022-23 season. Our hot seat selection can be an NHL player, head coach, team owner or GM.
In this file, we focus on Winnipeg Jets.
JETS HOT SEAT: KEVIN CHEVELDAYOFF, General Manager
Why: It wasn’t long ago that the Jets were seen as a team on the rise; Four years ago, they reached the Western Conference Final, before losing in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights. As a result, GM Cheveldayoff received the deserved acclaim. But since then, the Jets have, for the most part, been an example of the law of diminishing returns, and they peaked last season, first suffering the humiliation of coach Paul Morris who walked away from his job, then missed the playoffs. For the first time since 2017, she placed sixth in the Central Division, ahead of only Chicago and Arizona.
So, since receiving fair praise for their growth as a team, Cheveldayoff now faces fair criticism for the setbacks the Jets have suffered. While the Central teams around them have made important additions to their roster this summer, the Jets have done almost nothing – other than signing attacking striker Sam Gagner to replace Paul Stastney’s better player, and adding veteran backup David Richie to serve as a replacement for Conor Hellebuick – in an effort to improve. Cheveldayoff still has nearly $5.5 million (per CapFri Friendly.com) in the salary cap space, but there are no team makers available to invest that money in.
Cheveldayoff also has a new head coach on former Dallas head coach Rick Bowness, but again, there is a feeling that Winnipeg has settled on their second option, with Barry Trotz of Manitoba preferring to stay on the sidelines rather than take on the Jets job. It’s not that Bowness did a terrible job with the stars last season; It’s the fact that Winnipeg waited and waited for Trotz before forcing them to go in another direction that removes the luster of Bowness’s signature.
Worse still is the depth – or lack thereof – in the Winnipeg attacking group. Winnipeg had an average offensive last season (tied for 14th with an average of 3.05 goals per game), and subpar defense (tied for 16th at 3.09 goals per game), and neither region appears to be on the rise in 2022-23. The Jets have two forward streaks that are solid enough, but the drop after that is pretty severe. Likewise, their defensive team has guards in Josh Morrissey, Neil Beunk and Nate Schmidt, but the other three defenders are not needlewomen.
Not all news is bad for Winnipeg. They still have an elite goalkeeper at Hellebuyck, who is coming off his worst season in five years, and who should bounce back if he gets more support from his teammates. But there’s a catch: Do we really expect the planes to rise in the rankings? Yes, it’s correct to point out that an injury bug took a serious bite out of Winnipeg’s squad last season – star strikers Blake Wheeler and Nick Ehlers missed at least 15 games – but many other teams were able to absorb the injury blows due to their depth. The Jets, at this point, don’t have enough talent at the NHL level to withstand more serious injuries this season. And you have to ask yourself, which of the Central teams that finished ahead of last year will be better than they were in 2022-23? stars? Probably. Nashville Predators? Maybe too. St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche? Almost certainly not. And when you factor in the fact that the Pacific division has improved and is likely to reclaim one of the anchors they lost to Central last year, the possibility of a playoff game seems less likely for Winnipeg.
So, if Jets stumble out of the gate and/or miss the post-season for the second year in a row, what justification should Sheffielddev have to keep his job? He’s been the only GM Winnipeg he’s had since June 2011. Eleven years in this position is a great run for any hockey executive, but while there’s something to be said for team owner Mark Chipman’s loyalty, the truth is that it’s time to engineer New for aircraft. They can’t keep accepting the mid-level hoping that one of these years will see a deep watershed for them.
Sheffielddev cannot blame the coach for any other failures. He also can’t handle a relative gray beard like Wheeler and Schmidt and expects planes to suddenly reverse their current course. It may not be time for a complete rebuild, but it is also not recommended to continue the path.
something to give him.