Connor Hellebuyck signed a six-year, $37 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Winnipeg keeps another piece of their core in place. What does this all mean? What impact may it have down the road? Let’s take a look.
Connor Hellebuyck contract explained
Again, thanks to CapFriendly, contracts are easier to dive into quickly. He earns $7,000,000 for the 2018-19 campaign. This article from The Canadian Press makes sense of it here. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff commented more on Hellebuyck:
“Helly has always been projected in our mind as a No.1 goaltender and the goaltender of the future for us,” Jets GM kevin Cheveldayoff said during a conference call. “We’re very very excited we were able to come to a long-term agreement for now and for the future.
“Obviously the training and maturity that was in his game from the years prior to now is about becoming a pro.”
The salary cap hit comes in at $6.167 million AAV for the deal. However, the salary structure is as follows:
- 2018-19: $7 million salary
- 2019-20: $6 million salary
- 2020-21: $4.5 million salary
- 2021-22: $7.5 million salary
- 2022-23: $4.5 million salary
- 2023-24: $7.5 million salary
Now, there are some wrinkles in this deal. Note, the contract gives no signing bonus along with an interesting yo-yo structure during the final four years. Checking exhaustively, there appears to be no NMC or NTC clause to this deal for any of the contract length. This surprised many in the hockey world.
The extension and down that long and winding road
Hellebuyck is currently 25-years old. When the contract ends, Hellebuyck will be almost 31 (on the tail end of his prime). The question becomes what happens to Winnipeg during this new deal.
Kevin Cheveldayoff must win now. The question is how does he do so without Paul Stastny. On the bright side, there is time and some cap space to eventually work with.
How much does Hellebuyck capitalize from last season? It was clear the breakout campaign was not an accident. A Vezina Award nomination along with 44 wins signals even higher expectations. Most of the surrounding core remains intact.
Hellebuyck started 64 games while playing a league-leading 3,966 minutes. Expect that to increase, given that Michael Hutchinson is gone and Steve Mason out of the picture.
Some numbers and notes
Among other things, we can use some numbers from Hockey Reference. First, Hellebuyck led the league in goalie point share at 14. His goals saved above average was 23.75 which was also among the top three in the league. Furthermore, Hellebuyck managed an amazing .901 penalty kill save percentage (.875 is average). Penalty kill save percentage can be flippant, but that is still an impressive year.
Hellebuyck is a player capable of starting around 70 games. Fortunately, he is young enough to have that ability as Winnipeg have Laurent Brossoit as his back-up. Brossoit played just 14 games with a save percentage well below .900. This almost guarantees 65-70 starts for the young Winnipeg goaltender.
Hellebuyck’s rating on Corsica is currently 17th but that should rise. Manny Perry combined many factors — low and high danger save percentage along with penalty kill and even strength contributions. The goaltender enjoyed some season which included a great low danger save percentage of around .985 and solid high danger save percentage of .770. That latter number rose during the second half.
The Winnipeg goalie’s ability to make quicker decisions and fast reflexes are not in question here. There is a concern with his puck handling abilities as fast teams like Vegas were able to expose this weakness. With his undeniable work ethic, Hellebuyck just has to become average in that category and better in critical moments. That presents itself as a fixable correction. Like Andrei Vasilevskiy, can Hellebuyck keep growing and contributing even more to their team’s success? We shall all find out.