Scheifele ‘open to staying’ but hasn’t had many contract talks with Jets

Scheifele 'open to staying' but hasn't had many contract talks with Jets

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele‘s future with the franchise has been a hot-button topic all offseason long, but it seems the veteran isn’t completely turning his back on the team that drafted him.

“I’ve told them I’m open to staying. … I’ve been a Winnipeg Jet, this is my 13th camp, so it’s been a long time,” he told the media Thursday. “I’ve enjoyed every day of it.”

Scheifele has one year remaining on his current deal at a cap hit of $6.125 million. The pending unrestricted free agent has been eligible to sign a new extension with Winnipeg since July 1.

Scheifele, 30, said his contract status is “not really” on his mind ahead of the new season and that he’d leave the heavy lifting to his camp. However, it doesn’t sound like his agent’s phone has been ringing off the hook.

“There haven’t really been any talks at all,” Scheifele said.

Scheifele potted a career-high 42 goals in 81 games last season while ranking third on the Jets with 68 points. His 645 points in 723 contests since his debut in 2011-12 are the second most on the team over that span, trailing only former captain Blake Wheeler.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff did his part to dispel some of the rumors swirling around Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck in early September, saying Winnipeg’s “singular focus is winning” with both players on the roster.

Like Scheifele, Hellebuyck also has one season remaining on his six-year, $37-million deal. Hellebuyck also didn’t rule out a reunion Thursday.

“I’m not closing the door anywhere,” he said, according to TSN’s John Lu. “I’m gonna look at anywhere that I think I can win a Cup, and I know this locker room can win a Cup. … Right from my exit meeting, I was (saying), ‘I’m gonna be patient,’ so we’ll see how everything unfolds in my future, but I’m here. I’m a Jet, and I’m just gonna try and win a Cup with this team.”

The Jets made the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs by two points over the Calgary Flames. They were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.

Winnipeg’s 2023-24 campaign opens Oct. 11 against the Flames.

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