Winnipeg Jets fans had a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Monday with an announcement that caught many by surprise.
The Winnipeg Jet Hockey Club announced on Monday that they have agreed to terms with both forward Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on identical seven-year contract extensions with an average annual value of $8,500,000. Both of their seven-year contract extensions will begin in the 2024-25 season.
Speculation has swirled for months, perhaps even years, that Sheifele and Hellebuyck would be traded before their contracts were up. Rumours abounded that Scheifele was unhappy in Winnipeg but Monday's announcement seems to prove otherwise. It was also said that Hellebuyck wanted to play for a Stanley Cup contender while he was still in his prime. Perhaps the extension signals that he has a strong belief in the Jets potential.
Scheifele told reporters on Monday, “I think it was really important, you know, to be a Jet for the next eight years, I think I'm going to be 39 when they're doing the deal is over. So, to call myself a Jet for life, it's an honour really. Because not many guys get the opportunity to actually do that and be on one team their entire career."
Scheifele, 30, was the first player drafted by the Jets after their return to Winnipeg when he was picked in the first round (seventh overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft. The Kitchener, Ont. native is entering his 11th full season with the Jets and he is coming off a single-season career-high 42 goals in 2022-23.
Scheifele ranks first in franchise history in playoff goals (19) and regular season game-winners (44). He is also chasing the franchise lead in regular season goals (2nd – 272), assists (2nd – 373), points (2nd – 645), and games played (3rd – 723). Scheifele made the 2019 and 2020 NHL All-Star Games and has eclipsed 20 goals and 60 points for the past eight seasons.
He also ranks fourth in points from the 2011 NHL Draft class and his 271 goals since 2013-14 rank eighth among NHL centres.
Internationally, Scheifele has represented Canada multiple times, including a trio of World Hockey Championships. He won a gold medal for Canada at the 2016 IIHF WHC and won silver at the 2017 edition.
Throughout his time in Winnipeg, Mark has put an emphasis on giving back and using his platform to help others. He’s been actively involved in on- and off-ice work and fundraising efforts for organizations like KidSport. Mark also found a unique way to give back to the frontline workers with his “Scheif’s Healthcare Heroes” initiative at Jets home games.
Hellebuyck, 30, was drafted by the Jets in the fifth round (130th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. The Commerce, Mich. native is entering his ninth full season with the Jets. Hellebuyck finished as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, an award he won in 2020 and was also a finalist in 2018. He finished last season top-five among NHL goaltenders in wins (T-3rd: 37), save percentage (T-4th: .920) and shutouts (T-5th: 4).
Hellebuyck has rewritten the franchise record book for goalies during his time with the Jets. He leads franchise goalies in career games played (445), wins (238), shutouts (32), and saves (12,465). Hellebuyck also leads the franchise in single-season wins (2017-18: 44), shutouts (2017-18 and 2019-20: 6), and saves (2021-22: 1,962). Since 2017-18, Hellebuyck leads all NHL goaltenders in games played (363) and saves (10,412), ranks second in wins (199) and third in shutouts (26).
Hellebuyck has also been recognized for his performance by being named to three NHL All-Star Games (2018, 2020, 2023), he was an NHL First All-Star in 2020 and an NHL Second All-Star in 2018.
Internationally, Hellebuyck has represented the United States at two World Hockey Championships, highlighted with a bronze medal in 2015.
In the community, Connor is active with Project 11 in Winnipeg and particularly their mental health awareness initiatives. Connor worked with author Thom van Dycke to write a children’s flipbook called “Bucky Beats the Blues / Is Something Wrong with Weasel”. The book raises awareness about mental health and its sales raise money to help support the cause.