1. X's AND O's
Head Coach Paul Maurice is entering the final year of a four-year contract he signed after being hired by the Jets midway through the 2013-14 season. While talks of an extension have yet not taken place, the coach has the full support of his general manager and has no qualms about coaching in the last year of his deal.
"I'm going to do whatever Kevin and Mark want me to do," Maurice said. "If they're comfortable with me going into my last year, I'm fine with that. If they'd like me to sign an extension, I'm fine with that, too.
"I'm going to be here every day for the next couple of months, anyway, so if they need to find me, they know where I am."
Maurice has a 136-112-33 record coaching the Jets, and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is convinced he's the man for the job, to help the team take the next step, return to the playoffs and compete for a Stanley Cup sometime in the near future.
"For me, Paul's got my full support," he said, adding that he's done everything he's been asked to do, which includes managing the young players well.
Maurice hired two new assistant coaches last off-season after it was announced that Pascal Vincent would be taking the head job with the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.
Jamie Kompon and Todd Woodcroft brought a wealth of experience and new skills to a team with so many young players (12 at 23-and-under, in fact), emphasizing the need for additional one-on-one time throughout the season.
"Jamie brought experience and a couple of Stanley Cup rings with him, and he's worked with a large spectrum of players with different styles over the years. He's a real positive, really hard-working guy. Todd, he worked real hard and we saw incremental improvement in the faceoff area, and he brought a lot of those skills," Maurice said.
"It was kind of a new piece that we haven't had before. It's like any team when you put together new personalities and perspectives on the game, you end up morphing and changing over the year what you're good at. We did a lot of moving people around this year in terms of areas they wanted to cover. I really enjoyed working with them; it was a good experience."
Cheveldayoff agrees that their impact was positive, and said he is not anticipating any changes to the coaching staff over the summer.
The GM is entering the final year of his deal, too, and while there is nothing to report at this time, he has already spoken to Executive Chairman Mark Chipman and is hopeful to stay on and be part of he feels could be something special.
"I love this organization. We've started a process and I'd like to see it through."
MORE: Cheveldayoff, Maurice: "We will be better" next year - by Mitchell Clinton
2. WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
One of the interesting off-season developments the Jets and 29 other teams are currently planning for is the unknown of the Expansion Draft.
The newly minted Vegas Golden Knights will select 30 players during the draft, one from each of the existing franchises. Teams have the option of protecting either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender, or any combinations of eight skaters (forwards and defenceman), and one goaltender.
"There are multiple different scenarios that you kick around, whether it's going to be four and four, or seven and three," Cheveldayoff said. "It'll become the utmost focus point for us between now and then. … The hardest part is trying to figure out, not only your own [priorities], but trying to figure out the jockeying that goes around the league with respect to the other teams."
Video: YEAR END | Kevin Cheveldayoff
In addition to the above criteria, teams are required to expose at least one defenceman and two forwards with 40 or more games played this past year, or 70-plus over the past two seasons combined.
All first and second-year pros are automatically exempt and do not count toward the protection limits.
Players with no-trade clauses are automatically protected as well, but do count toward the protections limits unless the player(s) chooses to waive that clause.
Cheveldayoff said that asking a player to waive it is "not off limits" for him, but if he did, the players would the first to know about it.
Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien are the Jets' only two players that have no-movement clauses in their contracts. Therefore, the players that finished the year on Winnipeg's playing roster that can either protected or exposed are:
Forwards: Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele, Joel Armia, Marko Dano, Mathieu Perreault, and Shawn Matthias.
Defencemen: Ben Chiarot, Jacob Trouba, Julian Melchiori, Mark Stuart and Tyler Myers.
Goaltenders: Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson
The players that finished the year on Winnipeg's playing roster and are automatically protected are:
Forwards: Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Brandon Tanev
Defencemen: Josh Morrissey and Nelson Nogier
Automatically protected prospects: Chase De Leo, Jack Roslovic, Jimmy Lodge, Brendan Lemieux, Jan Kostalek and Logan Stanley
Prospects that would need protection: Quinton Howden, Scott Kosmachuk, Ryan Olsen, JC Lipon and Brenden Kichton
"When you look at what Vegas has to do, and there are parameters of what they have to pick and what they're allowed to pick, you try to do some prognosticating of your own [of] who those players might be," Cheveldayoff said. "We have done and will continue to do several mock drafts, but I think it'll probably quiet down from that perspective once the playoffs start. I think you'll see as teams get eliminated throughout the playoffs there will be more conversations, not only with Vegas, but side to side with different teams with different opportunities. It could lead to some changes but hopefully, for us, we'll find that right mixture that we're comfortable with."
The Golden Knights cannot select more than one player from each team, and must assemble a roster of 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies.
While Cheveldayoff, Assistant General Mangers Larry Simmons and Craig Heisinger, along with the pro scouting staff will work through and prepare for all possible scenarios over the next few months, Maurice joked that he already had his list done, but will not be heavily involved in the day-to-day due diligence leading up.
"At the end of it, the list will be populated by Kevin. There might be a line at some point where you need to decide on a player, and what's where I would weigh in," he said.
The Expansion Draft will be held on Jun. 21, just days before the annual Entry Draft.