The Winnipeg Jets need to keep the defense in as much depth as they can, but they also need that depth to come cheaply. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done.
The Winnipeg Jets have Dmitry Kulikov on a three year, $13MM deal, for which he’s at a $4.33MM cap hit and he’s just one year in.
Also, Kulikov just isn’t very good. He played in 57 games last season and had only six points, all assists. Kulikov’s never been an offensive stud but he’s also never been worth that cap hit.
A sturdy if unspectacular defenseman, the Jets could do better. And at that price, they need to. His contract isn’t immovable, especially with just two years remaining. He does have a six team no-trade list, but I don’t think the Jets will find it too difficult to part with him.
He won’t fetch anything, and might need to be attached to something to clear the space, but it can be done. Hey, it’s better than buying out two contracts in the same offseason.
The Jets could use defensive depth, but honestly, I’d rather roll with Sami Niku, Ben Chiarot, Nathan Beaulieu, Bogdan Kiselevich and Joseph Morrow. Only Niku is under contract for next season, though.
Chiarot and Kiselevich are UFAs, while Morrow and Beaulieu are at RFA status. None of them should be too pricey, save for possibly Chiarot on the open market. I could see someone overpaying him, as he did have a nice postseason.
The others offer as much as Kulikov does at this point, anyway, as well as slightly cleaner injury histories. Either way, depth defensemen shouldn’t be too hard for the Jets to find this offseason. They’re always out there.
So the Jets should look to get Kulikov out there.