For a Few Bucks More

Ok, l haven’t written about the Jets in a literal coons age. It’s going to be like starting up a car that’s been stored over winter, so lets charge up the battery, turn it over and see if I can sputter my way through this.

Of course the topic de jour is the signing of Connor “Cash Money” Hellebuyck.  The deal weighs in at a hefty six years, thirty seven million dollars or an AAV of  $6,166,667. Oooh baby! That’s what I call a raise, thirty three thousand dollars a day is nice work if you can get it!

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My initial reaction was that the deal might be a bit rich in term and dollars for a goal tender thats only shown one (albeit spectacularly) good season between the pipes. Lord knows the NHL is littered with big goalie contracts where the beneficiary flamed out and became an albatross. Connor came off a disappointing 2016-17 season with a .907 save percentage and seemed to have lost some of the confidence that had been placed in him  by the Jets organization, so much so that Steve Mason was hired to take over starting duties for the 2017-18 campaign. Thankfully Hellebuyck used his precarious situation as motivation and stole the starters job from Mason, proceeding to then play himself into a Vezina nomination, a trip to the western conference final and a  9.24 save percentage.

So although my initial reaction was shock and awe, after the smoke clears there’s some intangibles (the hated word) that we need to take into account. First Hellybuck was a big reason for the Jets record breaking season, there were a lot of nights that the Jets weren’t really that great and Hellebuyck bailed them out. As the propeller heads like to say, and I agree with them, goal-tending can be a helluva drug and it covered up deficiencies on defense that plagued the Jets in the first half of the season. Second Hellebuycks disappointing campaign in 16-17 was an anomaly, in what was a rock steady career as a prospect at U Mass and later as a backup with the Jets. There was certainly no shortage fear uncertainty and doubt during the 16-17 season and Hellebuyck wasn’t immune. Locking up such a critical piece after only one stumble could be a very shrewd move not only on the books but in the room.

There are also some very real tangible salary cap issues that make the deal come into a bit more focus and it boils down to this; If he is who you think he is, it’s better to lock him up now at six million than two years from now at ten million. The Jets are going to be up against it very soon when it comes to the salary cap and locking up a key position now to leave some room later might not be such a bad idea. If you look down the line and see who needs a raise the Jets are definitely going to be cap team going forward, hopefully Chipper can get out there and sell some more cars.

So what does this deal mean? With a new six year deal, and the signing of his off season training partner Laurent Brossoit as a backup,  it means that the Jets goal tending world now firmly rotates around Connor Hellebuyck. Is it a risk? Maybe, but it’s an educated risk based on a guy thats been in the Jets system his entire career. In the long run its all about player evaluation and where you see Connor Hellebuyck in six years, if that vision includes a Stanley cup, its ok to spend a few bucks more.

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