Emptying the notebook: Jets June 24 edtion

- June 24th, 2012

We’re back from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in lovely Pittsburgh, Penn.

Busy few days, but it made for a Sunday on the Jets front, since the media was traveling home and several members of the Jets management team were off to the American Hockey League meetings in South Carolina.

Nothing new on the Ondrej Pavelec negotiations, but we expect them to heat up this week. A deal before July 1 remains a possibility as things could change quickly, but if I had to bet right now I might have to take the over on the over/under.

For some reason, I think it will be a four-year deal, maybe five.

The Jets think Pavelec can grow into an elite goalie and after doing some double-checking, he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent after three seasons (because his birthday falls after July 1), so signing a three-year pact doesn’t seem like a good idea.

A two-year deal? Not likely.

However, I’d bet the farm I don’t own that Pavelec is the Jets No. 1 goalie next season and beyond.

How negotiations go will have some impact in what the Jets do with the No. 2 job.

As it stands right now, veteran Chris Mason and recently-acquired Jonas Gustavsson, will both be UFAs on July 1.

So expect talks on both fronts this week.

Spoke with Mason this afternoon and he’s still hopeful a deal can get done, though not sure it will be done before Sunday. He’s heading to Hawaii with his family Monday morning to unwind.

Meanwhile, I also had a discussion with Gustavsson’s agent Joe Resnick on Sunday afternoon, and while meeting briefly with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff on Saturday after the deal with the Maple Leafs was completed, Resnick still isn’t sure where The Monster fits in the Jets plans.

Bringing in Gustavsson makes sense on a host of levels, as he’s 27-years-old and shown flashes of brilliance. After being relegated to backup duty with the Maple Leafs, Gustavsson still appeared in 42 games last season. Gustavsson hasn’t lived up to the hype just yet but the Maple Leafs weren’t exactly defensively sound.

Speaking to a few people in Pittsburgh, Gustavsson is said to be a really good guy and maybe he would mesh with Pavelec as well. But he’s at a different stage of his career and has to believe he can still be an NHL starter. Competition is always good, but so is harmony in the crease as well.

On the flip side, Mason might be 36 but he carries plenty of weight in the Jets’ dressing room. He has a good relationship with Pavelec and while part of his job is to push the starter, Mason knows where he stands and is supportive. While he was used sparingly in the final 30-plus games, Mason should be able to give you somewhere around 20 starts.

I don’t really have a strong feeling about which way the Jets are going to go here.

It’s possible that neither is signed and the Jets look outside the organization, maybe at someone like Scott Clemmensen, who shared the net with Jose Theodore last season and had a couple of excellent outings against the Jets last season and even saw some playoff action against the New Jersey Devils.

Clemmensen should attract plenty of attention for those looking for an experienced backup on July 1.

We’ll be delving into free agency a bit more as the week wears on.

For now, you should know that Monday is the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents.

It’s clear the Jets will be extending QOs to Pavelec, Evander Kane, Spencer Machacek, Paul Postma and likely Arturs Kulda.

As we reported yesterday, Eric Fehr isn’t getting a QO and will become an unrestricted free agent.

The 18th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft might have to take a two-way deal after enduring a tough first season with the Jets, but scoring is tough to find in the NHL and he’s only three years removed from a 20-goal season. Perhaps a team like the Montreal Canadiens could be a fit.

Many are giving up on the Winkler product but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him hit double digits in goals for somebody next season. Time will tell.

We’ll take a look at the Jets remaining RFAs in the organization at the bottom of this post.

One final item. Highly sought-after defenceman Justin Schultz became an unrestricted free agent at 11 p.m. on Sunday night (midnight ET) and he’ll be attracting plenty of interest.

Schultz played with Toronto Maple Leafs D-man Jake Gardiner with the Wisconsin Badgers of the NCAA and is believed to be ready to jump right in and play among some teams top two pairings.

Money won’t be the biggest consideration for Schultz, who will likely get the maximum from whatever team inks him to an entry-level contract.

Most teams in the NHL are expected to make a pitch for Schultz. Some of the early front-runners are the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers. Don’t discount Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning. He would be a great addition there. The Chicago Blackhawks make sense also, as do the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he would be reunited with Gardiner. You could make the case Schultz would look good on any NHL roster.

The Jets have a lot of right-hand shot blue-liners in their system in both NHL and AHL rosters, but this is an opportunity to add a highly-skilled player for nothing but dollars and cents, so you’d think they will at least make him an offer.

Although he can’t sign until July 1, teams will likely begin to make their pitches starting sometime early this week.

Schultz had 40 goals and 83 assists for 113 points in 121 games during his college career, including 16 goals and 44 points in 37 games with the Badgers in 2011-12.

Before we go, here’s  the list of free agents who spent the bulk of the season with the St. John’s IceCaps (we’re off on Monday and Tuesday) but either myself or Kirk Penton will provide updates as the full lists become available:

F Ben Maxwell

F Maxime Macenauer

F Mike Forney

D Brett Festerling

D John Negrin

F Fredrik Pettersson

Categories: Hockey

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