Wholesale St. Louis Blues Jersey

The St. Louis Blues got center stage for the beginning of the end to their 2017 preseason campaign. Taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins brought out the best in the team and they were fun to watch.

The St. Louis Blues came out a little slow in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania. St. Louis fell behind by the score of 1-0 to Pittsburgh playing in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game.

It was another poor showing on defense with sloppy marking and lazy clearances. Fortunately, the changes were made during intermission and the Blues came out to play later on.

From the second period on, the Blues were the dominant team save for a break down the ice here or there. In the end, they would win by a final of 4-1.

Four goals scored seems to be a theme as it has happened in the last three games. Luckily, the Blues were on the right side of the scoreline for the second game out of three.

Despite a win, it was not all rainbows and sunshine. So, let’s delve into the pros and cons of the game.

Pros: Multiple scorers.

When talking about positives, this page and many others have been talking up the Blues depth. It’s all well and good to have good players up and down the roster, but they do have to produce. That has been a sticking point in year’s past.

So far this preseason, the Blues have had good scoring depth. Nobody is running away with the preseason scoring title, but everyone is getting the job done. That was the case against Pittsburgh.

The Blues had four goals against the Penguins. St. Louis had four goal scorers.

Vladimir Tarasenko looked in midseason form with his wrist shot to tie it up. Jordan Kyrou scored through traffic to take the lead. Paul Stastny scored a rare thing for the Blues with an empty net goal and Dmitirj Jaskin chipped in with another late in the game.

Each goal was a strong effort from the guy who scored it, especially Jaskin’s. You expect Tarasenko to score, but when other guys are picking up the ball and running, it’s even better. Hopefully this trend can continue into the regular season.

Cons: First period defense.

The Blues had scored the first goal in three straight preseason games. Now, they’ve been scored upon first in two straight.

Having Jake Guentzel score on you is no shame, in and of itself. The guy has talent.

However, the Blues defending has lacked energy the last couple games. The Dallas game almost makes sense since it was the third game in a short span for some young players.

The Blues went with a more veteran lineup, especially on the back line, against Pittsburgh. Seeing the same problems creep in at the start of the game was a little disappointing.

The Blues are not going to be a physically punishing team. It is not their game.

They do have to be positionally sound, aware of who they are marking and quick on their feet. Zone exits must be clean and giveaways must be limited.

Pros: Carter Hutton showed very well.

Though the Blues defenders got their act together in the second and third periods, Hutton had a very good game as well.

He was not tested a lot. Still, 23 saves against a reasonably full Pittsburgh lineup cannot be shrugged off.

The Blues are going to need Hutton to be in form this year, as he was last year. He’s looked like his game is pretty well in order this preseason, which bodes well.

Hutton never had to make the spectacular save, but you don’t always need that. If the defense plays well, you only need your goaltender to clean up any mistakes and Hutton did just that.

Cons: Few too many silly penalties.

The Blues have been guilty of this more in other games. There were a couple penalties that were unavoidable and potentially thwarted goal scoring chances.

There were still those penalties that just involved not moving the feet and getting caught out of position. It is preseason, but it’s also too early in the year.

If you simply are not in position, that is laziness. It is an unwillingness to keep the skates going and find a better way to defend it.

Overall, this should not be a huge issue for the Blues. In each individual game it is a bit frustrating to see though.

The Blues have decent special teams, but they far overuse them. They don’t need to be taxed in the preseason.

Pros: Prospects continue to show well.

While it did not show up as highly on the stat sheet in this game, the prospects or AHL guys keep showing very well. Kyrou scored a very gritty goal, getting in traffic in the slot to bang home a loose puck.

Those are the kinds of goals you wonder if you’ll get out of players that are used to the open nature of junior hockey. Additionally Wade Megan keeps impressing.

He did not score, but he is one of those guys that seems to know where to be. Although I almost never agree with Pierre McGuire, I do agree with his statement that it would be a shame if Megan doesn’t earn a spot.

Vince Dunn looked very much like a great puck moving defender. His actual defensive skills are not top notch, but he’s definitely looking like someone that could eventually replace Kevin Shattenkirk on the offensive end.

Final Thoughts: It was another preseason game and in spots you could really tell. In other spots, you’d think it was a regular season contest. There was an odd bit of chippiness, perhaps brought on by the fact it was on national television.

Overall, it was great to see the Blues show well on a big stage. Even if it is an exhibition, when the team performs well on national television, they make other people respect them more.

People around the country do not follow the Blues like we do, so if they see the best the team has to offer then that sticks in the memory bank.

Offensively, the team looks fine. They are passing well and despite mixed lines, the chemistry seems quite good this early in the year.

Defensively, the Blues are not horrible. There are some glaring things that need to be cleaned up by the regular season or St. Louis will cost itself some valuable points.

It was a positive performance in the grand scheme. It was also great to see the Blues on TV, even if we had to suffer through McGuire to do it.

Wholesale Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs went from 30th to the Playoffs last season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs surprised nearly everyone last season my making such a big jump in the standings. Mike Babcock promised us pain, then gave us nothing but pleasure.

The Leafs were also a bit unlucky last year. In the NHL, the team winning after the second period wins around 90% of the time, but the Leafs blew something like 15 games they were leading after two. As bad as they were defensively (second worst in the NHL) they still blew more leads than they should have. Furthermore, they lost nearly the same amount of OT/Shootout games. The Leafs record in extra time (where winning is a coin flip) was atrocious. Their ability to play with a lead and to win after regulation are both going to improve, suggesting an even higher point total than last year.

Where they’ll end up this season is anyone’s guess. I don’t think a Stanley Cup, or at least an appearance in the Finals is out of the question. The Leafs boast one of the groups of forwards in the NHL, they have some cap room, some tradable assets, a decent group of prospects, a pretty good defense and a lower-top-ten goalie.

All in all, there is reason for optimism. The team, as is, is very good. Potentially they could be even better because they added Marleau and will have another year of experience and growth for their young team.

Without further Ado, here are three predictions for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs

1. The Leafs Win the Atlantic Division

The Atlantic Division is currently the weakest division in hockey. Consisting of the Sabres, Panthers, Red Wings, Bruins, Leafs, Senators and Canadiens, the Atlantic Division is very weak compared to every other division in the NHL. As such, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be seen as heavy favorites to win it.

Like I said, there is no reason this can’t be a Cup Contending team, and I think they could probably even win the Conference. But I’d be willing to guarantee an Atlantic Division title for the first time since it’s been called the Atlantic Division.

The Canadiens won the Atlantic last year with just four more wins than the Leafs (who squeaked into the Playoffs by a single point). They were a non-playoff team bouyed by an insane 10 game winning streak to start the year. There’s no chance that’s happening again.

The Canadiens have a great goalie, a bad defense and a bunch of question marks. It’s questionable whether they improved over last year, but if they did, it wasn’t by much.

The Senators were one of the NHL’s worst teams but rode insanely hot goaltending into a surprise playoff spot. Barring a miracle, they’ll be closer to competing for the #1 Draft Pick than they will for the Playoffs.

The Sabres, Panthers, and Red Wings could all give Ottawa a run for their money in the race to the bottom. The Bruins are old and declining, and the Lightning are banking on the return of Stamkos and a rookie goalie. Not to mention that for some reason they signed Dan Girardi.

Overall, it looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs could potentially run away with the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs

2. Auston Matthews Wins Hart Trophy/Scoring Title

After scoring 40 goals, leading the NHL in even-strength goals and winning the Calder (by six miles) what does Auston Matthews do for an encore?

How about solidify himself as the best player in the NHL not named Connor McDavid? How about win the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies? I mean, why the hell not?

Sure, he’s going to have some tough competition, but I highly doubt the Calder ends up being the last of his major trophy wins. Matthews has got the talent, and what’s more, the numbers to vastly improve even over last year.

Matthews played less than most players in his scoring stratosphere, including a nearly full minute less power play time. He’s get more time on the ice this year and his numbers will go up.

Also, his play last year wasn’t based on good luck. He was robbed of many assists due to the low shooting percentage of players he played with. He himself didn’t have a very high shooting percentage individually, and if it goes up at all, he’s going to rack up the goals at an insane rate.

Furthermore, last year his PDO was right around 100, making his Expected Goals about the same as what he actually scored. This means there is no reason to think his numbers aren’t sustainable. Add in another year of training, growth and maturity, better linemates, more ice time, and some actual assists, and it’s easy to see how he could completely eclipse his already amazing numbers from last season.

I predict Auston Matthews, like Connor McDavid, wins the Hart Trophy in his sophomore season.

Wholesale Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey

3. Tyler Bozak Gets Traded

The Toronto Maple Leafs longest serving player is going to get traded. A pending unrestricted free-agent, Bozak’s days with the Leafs are numbered.

The Leafs are a team who could use a little salary cap relief, and Bozak makes over a $4 million dollar cap hit. The Leafs are a team with too many wingers. For example, Connor Brown, a 20 goal rookie, looks like he’s going to start the year on the fourth line. That’s not to mention that the team is also considering starting the year without it’s second best defensive forward, and it’s fastest skater, Kasperi Kapanen. And Josh Leivo? Forget it.

In addition to having too many wingers, the Toronto Maple Leafs also have Bozak’s replacement ready and waiting to take over at centre ice. William Nylander is a natural centre who put up a positive shot-differential playing centre for 25 games as a rookie two years ago. In fact, his defensive numbers were better during that stint than Bozak has ever had.

When you consider that Bozak is a terrible defensive player, and that that is the Toronto Maple Leafs main weakness as a team, as well as how foolish it is to be wasting a potentially elite centre as a winger, this move becomes a no-brainer.

The Leafs are going to have the best three centre combo in the league once they are lining up Matthews, Nylander and Kadri down the middle. Moving Bozak will allow Kapanen to get into the linup and the Leafs will be an even better team.

I expected this to happen already, but I predict it will go down before the season starts, since its such an obvious move to make.

Wholesale Boston Bruins Jersey

Forward, expected to report to camp Saturday, says it's 'great motivation to get better'.

Forward David Pastrnak is ready to take on an even bigger role with the Boston Bruins following his contract situation getting settled.

Pastrnak, who was a restricted free agent, signed a six-year, $40 million contract (average annual value of $6.67 million) Thursday and is expected to report to camp Saturday.

“There will be some pressure, bigger than last year, but that’s a part of it,” said Pastrnak, 21, who spoke to reporters in Prague on Friday. “I’m curious myself to see how I’ll be able to deal with it.

“But in the end, it’s still hockey; the game I love so much. It’s beautiful to sign such contract, but it does not mean it’s over. Quite the opposite, it’s just the beginning. A great motivation to get better and better.

“My dream is to win the Stanley Cup and it did not change with the new contract.”

Pastrnak set NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (36) and points (70) in 75 games last season after he had 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) in 97 games his first two NHL seasons. He was second on the Bruins in goals and assists in the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract (Brad Marchand had 39 goals, 85 points).

“I would like to be a leader one day,” Pastrnak said. “Now I’m still young, I started in the NHL when I was 18. I came to the locker room where there were so many great leaders, great guys, and I would like to be like them one day. To become a leader for the young guys as they were for me.”

Pastrnak said he was not involved with negotiations and left it to his representatives. Even after missing the first day of Bruins camp Thursday, he was confident a deal would be struck.

“Obviously, I’m satisfied,” he said. “I can put it behind me and focus on the season. We’ve expected the way it went, we knew [the negotiations] were about to get longer. And of course we are glad that we came to an end.”

Pastrnak knows the value of his contract places him at the same level, at least financially, with some of the rising stars in the NHL who have signed similar contracts recently.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl signed an eight year, $68-million contract that was seen as a comparable for negotiations with Pastrnak, which lasted through the summer. Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg signed a six-year, $36-million contract before last season.

Pastrnak has 123 points (59 goals, 64 assists) in 172 games. Draisaitl, 21, has 137 points (50 goals, 87 assists) in 191 games; Forsberg, 23, has 191 points (91 goals, 100 assists) in 264 games.

“For me, it’s more important to get to their level hockey-wise. That is my goal,” Pastrnak said. “I haven’t given it much thought about the money when comparing myself to these players. I’m sure my agents tried the best for me and I want to be able to compare myself with those guys as hockey players, on the ice. And to be one of the best.”

Wholesale Montreal Canadiens Jersey

Defenseman says its 'big honor' to return to Montreal after nearly decade away.

Defenseman Mark Streit is entering his second tour of duty with the Montreal Canadiens, so the question had to be asked:

“Did you keep much Canadiens stuff from a decade ago?”

“I still have my [Canadiens] hockey bag,” Streit said, flashing a grin Monday morning, speaking before Montreal’s annual curtain-raising golf tournament. “I have jerseys, shorts and stuff. I kept a lot of things.”

The follow-up question, about saving the Canadiens a bundle, never even reached its conclusion before Streit jumped in.

Defenseman says its 'big honor' to return to Montreal after nearly decade away.

“No, no, I didn’t bring it with me,” Streit said, laughing. “I want new stuff.”

Chances are fresh equipment won’t be an issue for Streit, who signed a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 25.

For Streit, 39, it is a return to the organization that gave him a chance in the NHL 13 years ago. Montreal drafted the Swiss native in the ninth round (No. 262) of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Streit played three seasons for the Canadiens, from 2005-08, then four more with the New York Islanders and four with the Philadelphia Flyers before being moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins via the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2017 Trade Deadline in March.

Streit was part of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-championship team last season, before opting to return to the Canadiens as an unrestricted free agent. He was often a healthy scratch, playing in three Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Defenseman says its 'big honor' to return to Montreal after nearly decade away.

On Monday, he joined his new (old) team at Laval-sur-le-Lac Golf Club, north of Montreal, for its golf tournament. The annual event is a key fundraiser for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, which does important work throughout Quebec for the underprivileged and disadvantaged.

The golf outing is also the first occasion since the end of the season to hear from management and the players about what lies ahead on the eve of training camp, which opens Friday at the practice facility in Brossard.

Having lived in the fishbowl that can be Montreal during his first three NHL seasons, Streit knew what to expect when he pulled up to the clubhouse on Monday.

He still got a kick out of the scene: the gathered media mob, morning shows broadcasting live, a guitar-bass-drums trio entertaining and hockey Twitter melting down under perfect, cloudless skies.

Of course, the clouds will be thick and threatening the first time the Canadiens lose two games in a row this season, but this is Montreal, after all.

“It’s tough to put in words,” Streit said of returning to his NHL roots. “Playing for the Canadiens is unique, it’s a big honor.”

Gone a decade, he saw a few familiar faces Monday: Claude Julien, who was his coach the first half of his maiden NHL season and returned last season as the replacement to Michel Therrien, as well as goalie Carey Price and forward Tomas Plekanec. Youppi!, the team mascot who like Streit was a Canadiens rookie in the 2005-06 season.

“When I got here in 2005, Saku [Koivu] was the captain; we had [Alex] Kovalev, [Craig] Rivet, [Sheldon] Souray, a lot of veteran guys, older guys,” Streit recalled.

“Time goes fast and a team changes its face. But it’s great seeing Carey, the kind of player he is now. He was 18 then, and now he’s the best goalie in the League. [Plekanec] is still here. I was really excited to see both of those guys. And working with Claude … he helped me out a lot at the beginning, it’s great that he’s back as well.”

Streit admitted that he’s surprised to still be in the NHL, realizing when he arrived in Montreal for the 2005-06 season as an older player from the Swiss pro leagues that he may not have many chances to impress. Now, he’s a veteran of 784 regular-season NHL games, 205 of them with the Canadiens.

The experience gained in this city during those three seasons, he believes, will help him now as he returns to Montreal’s hockey cauldron, one turned up a few degrees by the departure of veteran defenseman Andrei Markov this offseason. Markov, 38, who spent the past 16 seasons with the Canadiens, was not re-signed and signed with Ak Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League.

“It certainly helps that I experienced everything here,” Streit said. “When I came here 12 years ago, nobody knew me and I didn’t know anything. It was such a big challenge, a big step.

“There were ups and downs my first year. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was even harder. It was a grind but at the end of the day, every day, every second, you suck it up and work as hard as possible. I never expected to be here this long and I’m very grateful for it.”

Wholesale Montreal Canadiens Jersey.

Streit loves the cosmopolitan flair of Montreal, a European city in North America. He laughed about having gone for a walk downtown during the weekend, hours after having arrived, and being recognized by a restaurant owner who had greeted him in a different place fully a decade ago.

“It’s a small world,” Streit said. “You can walk through some big cities in the U.S. and not a lot of people will recognize you,” he said. “In Montreal, it’s certainly different.”

There’s early talk Streit will have a place on the power play. His ability to move the puck is one of his strengths.

“You’ve got to put your work in at training camp,” Streit said. “You need to earn your spot and your ice time and role everywhere. We’ll see. I just want to help the team and do the things I can do out there and have a great season.

“I feel like I’m coming home a little bit. I started here 12 years ago, so being back is an incredible story. I’m really psyched. This is a franchise with so much history, so many great players in the past. The Canadiens have won so many Stanley Cups (24), so being able to come back where it all started for me is a Cinderella story, kind of.”

Wholesale Florida Panthers Jersey

BB&T Center will be used to store emergency vehicles, house first responders during storm.

The Florida Panthers are doing their part to assist the South Florida community with Hurricane Irma expected to make landfall there this weekend.

The Panthers will allow local officials to use their home arena, BB&T Center, as a storage facility for emergency vehicles and to house police and fire rescue officers. In addition, Panthers president Matthew Caldwell will be part of a contingent of employees who will sleep in the arena and assist emergency crews through the weekend.

“We are here and ready to support our Florida family, Broward County and the city of Sunrise as the community prepares for Irma’s possible landfall,” Panthers owner Vincent J. Viola said in a statement. “Service to the community and family are in the DNA of our organization.”

BB&T Center will be used to store emergency vehicles, house first responders during storm.

The Panthers also bought 30 cots for themselves and anyone who may get stranded.

“I just think it’s important for the Panthers to be leaders and stewards in the community and physically be here with the cops and firefighters and commissioners,” Caldwell told NHL.com. “When you’re on the ground with people, you never know what’s going to happen.”

The arena’s location is relatively safe, with the benefit of the Everglades on one side and about 20 miles of land between it and the ocean on the other to potentially slow the storm.

“We just feel like, of course, safety is important, we want to make sure our team is good, but just as important is trying to assist,” Caldwell said. “We’re a professional sports franchise with great fans and great people that have always supported us, so we wanted to be there for the community. So we’ll be out there trying to help out and volunteering and doing whatever we can.”

Hurricane Wilma, the last major storm to hit South Florida, in October 2005, was responsible for 87 deaths and caused $2 million in damage to BB&T Center.

BB&T Center has established a hotline at (954) 835-8911 that will have the most up-to-date information regarding the building.

Fans are encouraged to visit Broward County’s Hurricane Irma website to learn more about hurricane shelters, guides and information. Weather information and updates can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s website or the National & Regional Hurricane Center’s Twitter accounts.

Several Panthers players, their families and their pets will evacuate South Florida on Friday and fly to Boston. The team chose Boston because of its proximity to their American Hockey League affiliate, which is located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Panthers will begin training camp in Springfield on Sept. 14 if they are unable to return to Sunrise by then.

Wholesale Carolina Hurricanes Jersey

Will play behind Darling after spending past decade as Carolina's starting goalie.

Cam Ward has been the starting goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes since 2006, but this season he’s accepting a different role.

Carolina acquired Scott Darling in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks on April 28 and signed the pending unrestricted free agent to a four-year contract May 6. Ward, 33, said he knows his starts will be limited this season in favor of the 28-year-old Darling.

“I’m realistic,” Ward told The News & Observer last week. “I understand the situation. I know he was brought in here to sign a four-year deal for pretty good money not to be a backup.

“I know where I am in my career. … Certainly I’m a competitive guy and I still want to be able to play and I’ll do whatever I can to earn that ice time, but I’m hopeful he can make that next step. He deserves that.”

Ward made 61 starts for the Hurricanes last season and was 26-22-12 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. He’s made at least 60 starts eight of the past 10 full NHL seasons, but his goals-against average has gone up each of the past three seasons and his save percentage has gone down. Eddie Lack, who was the backup for the Hurricanes last season, was traded to the Calgary Flames on June 29.

“I’m getting toward the end,” Ward said. “I hate to say that, but it’s realistic. I’m not in the first half of my career; I’m in the second half.”

Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when he helped the Hurricanes win the Cup in 2006, is the Carolina/Hartford Whalers franchise leader in wins (295), shutouts (25) and games played by a goalie (625). However, the Hurricanes haven’t been to the playoffs since 2009.

Darling, who has been Corey Crawford’s backup with the Blackhawks the past three seasons, was 18-5-5 with a 2.38 GAA and .924 save percentage in 2016-17. He won the Stanley Cup in 2015.

“I thought it was a great move,” Ward said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about Scott Darling. … I look at a guy who’s ready to take that next step.”

Ward, selected in the first round (No. 25) by Carolina in the 2002 NHL Draft, is entering the final season of a two-year contract.

“You learn to appreciate the game a lot more, your time with your teammates and trying to help them out. I’m looking forward to meeting Scott. I think we’ll be a good partnership.”

Wholesale Vancouver Canucks Jersey

Thomas Vanek and the Vancouver Canucks agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal Friday.

The 33-year-old forward had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games last season with Florida and Detroit.

“Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we’re excited to add his offense and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “His skill and ability to contribute on the score sheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game.”

The former University of Minnesota star from Austria has 333 goals and 364 assists in 885 regular-season games with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Montreal, Minnesota, Detroit and Florida.

Wholesale Winnipeg Jets Jersey

Mason, Kulikov added to talented core in hopes of securing playoff berth.

NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Winnipeg Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets went shopping this offseason to aid their attempt to move up in the Central Division and find a way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Jets made an uncharacteristic foray into the free agent market July 1 to try to support their draft-and-develop philosophy, signing goalie Steve Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million contract (average annual value $4.1 million) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year, $13 million contract (average annual value $4.33 million).

It was the most money the Jets spent at the start of free agency since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011.

The Jets also went the extra mile to protect key players from the NHL Expansion Draft by making a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Jets traded the 13th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to Vegas for the 24th pick in the 2017 draft, and a presumed assurance from the Golden Knights not to choose veteran defenseman Toby Enstrom.

Enstrom, 32, agreed to waive his no-movement clause so he could be exposed in the expansion draft.

“People can say we paid a price, [but] we’ve always been and will always be a draft-and-develop team,” general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “We feel we’ve got some really good pieces here that can click and work together, so we didn’t want to lose one of those pieces.”

Without Enstrom’s decision and the trade, the Jets may have been forced to protect eight skaters and one goalie from the expansion draft (instead of seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie), so they could protect defensemen Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Enstrom. That would have exposed forwards Adam Lowry and Mathieu Perreault.

After the trade, Vegas selected forward Chris Thorburn in the expansion draft. Thorburn signed with the St. Louis Blues after becoming a free agent.

The Jets’ motivation to add veterans in free agency comes from a roster of ascending young players.

Last season, rookie forward Patrik Laine, 19, was their leading goal-scorer with 36. Center Mark Scheifele, 24, had 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 79 games to finish seventh in the NHL. Forward Nikolaj Ehlers, 21, improved to 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in his second season from 38 as a rookie. Trouba, 23, became an all-situation player and played an NHL career-high 24:57 per game.

Each was a key element in helping the Jets win 40 games (40-35-7, 87 points). Winnipeg finished fifth in the Central and seven points behind the Nashville Predators for second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

Mason will be asked to stabilize the Jets goaltending. Winnipeg allowed 255 goals last season, fourth-most in the League behind the Colorado Avalanche (276), Dallas Stars (260) and Arizona Coyotes (258). Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, 24, was 26-19-4 with a 2.89 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract July 24.

“It should give the coaches great options on a nightly basis,” Cheveldayoff said.

Winnipeg’s poor defense last season was the impetus to add Kulikov’s experience.

“He is still relatively young, one of those guys who started in the League as [a teenager],” Cheveldayoff said. “He was injured [last season], and we’re looking for that player that helped [the] Florida [Panthers] in the [2016] playoffs and was one of their best defensemen in their last playoff run.”

Winnipeg’s defense will improve significantly if Myers is recovered from surgery to repair a lower-body injury that limited him to 11 games last season.

In addition to improved health — the Jets lost 355 man-games to injuries last season — the ability of the young roster to step up will be a must.

“The NHL is a very, very unforgiving place to have to teach,” Cheveldayoff said, “but when you have young talent like we do or did, and they’re emerging into veteran players, those are the experiences that you’re going to benefit from moving forward.”