The readers have spoken and they’re not demanding as many changes as one might expect after the Winnipeg Jets missed out on the post-season party for the fifth time in six seasons since relocation.
Results of our annual Jets You be the boss survey have been counted and while the approval ratings for both head coach Paul Maurice and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff have declined from last spring, folks still support them sticking around and even receiving an expected contract extension – as long as its a short one.
Among the 2,115 people who took the time to complete the survey, just 7% believe Maurice is the long-term answer behind the bench and 22% would prefer he was fired, but 71%either think he should be given a short extension (44.1%) or be allowed to go into the final year of his deal (26.9%).
As for Cheveldayoff, the only GM the 2.0 version the Jets have ever known has the support of 69.0% of those who responded (compared to 12.9% who would prefer he was fired) as he goes into what is probably the most import off-season of his career.
When it comes to off-season priorities, it’s no surprise fans of the Jets want the goalie position addressed after what was a rough season.
A grand total of 91% would like veteran Ondrej Pavelec to be sent packing after his five-year contract expires, while 57.3% would like to see the Jets move on from Michael Hutchinson, who had a disappointing campaign but finished 5-1.
Despite enduring plenty of ups-and-downs during his first season as a starter, Connor Hellebuyck has the support of 84.7%, though 68.5% of responders want him to be moved to backup duty after a veteran is brought in.
The preferred choices in unrestricted free agency are Chicago Blackhawks backup Scott Darling (32.7% and Ben Bishop (31.5%), who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the NHL trade deadline by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If the Jets go the trade route, 40.6%of people want it to be Pittsburgh Penguins backup Marc-Andre Fleury – who has a no-trade clause and would have to approve the move.
On the back end, folks are ready to get rid of Mark Stuart (67.7%), Toby Enstrom (53.7%) and Paul Postma (49.2%), despite the fact he set career highs for both games played (65), assists (13) and points (14).
Up front, 58.7% are ready for the Jets to move on from Chris Thorburn, whose contract is set to expire after completing a three-year contract.
Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba has one season left on the bridge deal he inked in early November, but fans want him locked up long term and 68% of those who responded expect him to cash in to the tune of $ 6 or $ 7 million per season.
The NHL expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights is set for late June and 66% would prefer the Jets protect one goal, three defenceman and seven forwards.
In order to do that, 91% believe the Jets should ask Enstrom to waive his no-movement clause so he can be exposed.
Players garnering the most support when it comes to being protected were Mark Scheifele (96.7), Blake Wheeler (93.3%), Jacob Trouba (93.3%), Bryan Little (90.7%), Dustin Byfuglien (88.9%) and Adam Lowry (79.4%).
Despite suiting up in only 11 games this season because of lower-body issues, defenceman Tyler Myers has 65.5% of people who want him protected and part of the future.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that 68.0% want Joel Armia protected, while 59.9% want Mathieu Perreault on the list before he begins a four-year contract extension that kicks in on July 1.
Patrik Laine was the overwhelming choice for top rookie, but the fact defenceman Josh Morrissey garnered 11.4% of the vote tells you how strong a season he had.
Speaking of rookies, 61% believe speedy left-winger Kyle Connor will have the biggest impact among freshman while 57% agreed it was the right move to send him down to the minors after playing in 19 games with the Jets to start the campaign.
In closing, 44.4% believe the Jets are a team on the verge of being a legitimate contender, while 36.3% see only minor tweaks being required.