NHL Notebook: Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck sign extensions with Jets, Canucks reportedly unsure about signing Elias Pettersson long-term
Photo credit:© Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
The Winnipeg Jets have locked two core players up long-term.
The team announced on Monday that forward Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck agreed to identical seven-year contracts worth $8.5 million annually. Both players were set to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Scheifele was the team’s first draft selection after moving from Atlanta to Winnipeg. He set a career-high in goals in 2022-23 with 42 and finished third on the team in points with 68. Hellebuyck put together another Vezina Trophy-calibre season for the Jets last year. He led the NHL in games played with 64 and posted a .920 save percentage.
There had been some thought that the Jets might springboard into a retool by trading one or both of Scheifele and Hellebuyck before they were eligible to test the open market in the summer of 2024. Getting both signed suggests that the Jets believe that they can be a competitive team in the coming years with the group of players they have now.
The Jets made some significant changes in the off-season following their first-round exit in the playoffs. They bought on the final contract of captain Blake Wheeler’s contract and they traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the L.A. Kings for forwards Alex Iafallo and Gabriel Vilardi.
Mar 6, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (40) checks his stick during a stop in play against the Nashville Predators in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Pettersson, Canucks both unsure of long-term commitment
The Vancouver Canucks and star forward Elias Pettersson appear to be nowhere close on a long-term contract.
In August, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman interviewed Pettersson during his off-season training in Sweden. Friedman asked Pettersson about his thoughts on his next contract with the Canucks and said: “I’m not in a rush to sign. I got one more year there and I don’t want to rush into anything.”
The fifth overall pick from the 2017 draft is entering the third and final season of the three-year bridge contract that he signed with the Canucks after his entry-level deal ended in 2021. He’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights after the 2023-24 season and will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent the following summer.
This isn’t the first time that Pettersson has made ominous comments about his desire to remain with the Canucks. Back in 2021, he expressed a desire to play for a consistent playoff contender in a Swedish interview with Hockeysverige reporter Uffe Bodin. Since Pettersson broke into the NHL in 2018-19, the Canucks have made the playoffs just once.
“I want to stay there now, but I also want to play for a team that’s winning and has the chance to go far into the playoffs every year. If we have that chance when my next deal expires… I don’t know. I just want to play where there’s a chance of winning.”
The Canucks don’t seem to be all too interested in chasing a deal with Pettersson at this time. Elliotte Friedman spoke about the situation on Monday’s episode of The 32 Thoughts Podcast and said he wasn’t convinced the Canucks were ready to make a commitment.
“Since Pettersson came out and said ‘I’m not sure yet’, I think the Canucks have also kind of indicated, ‘you know, we’re not sure either.’ If there’s any doubt that Pettersson wants to make a commitment, I’m not convinced that [the Canucks] want to make a commitment.”
Pettersson had the best season of his career in 2022-23 as he set career-highs in both goals with 39 and points with 102. Despite that production, the Canucks finished with a 38-37-7 record and missed the playoffs by 12 points.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens if the Canucks come out flat in 2023-24 and are out of the playoff picture by the time the trade deadline rolls around in March. Pettersson will be able to command a massive one-year contract through arbitration for 2024-25 so it might be easiest to trade him this season while his cap hit is $7.350 million.
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