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ANALYSIS: Tough decisions for Jets management after early playoff exit

Change is inevitable on a year-to-year basis for any National Hockey League franchise.

But Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his management team are at an important crossroads this off season, following yet another quick exit from the playoffs.

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The first order of business will be behind the bench. Does Rick Bowness feel he has at least one more season in him?

If not, does turning the reins over to associate coach Scott Arniel make better sense than some of the names on a list of available candidates outside the organization?

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For the Jets’ half-dozen pending unrestricted free agents, I’d argue Dylan DeMelo and Sean Monahan should be priority retentions.

DeMelo is one half of the top D pairing. He embodies everything the organization stands for.

A significant investment was made to acquire Monahan. And if an injection of youth becomes part of the plan now, or further down the road, the veteran centre is a proven commodity in mentoring younger players.

Term will be key. Anything beyond a four-year to five-year commitment for either player presents the risk of contracts not aging well from the idea of re-signing players for what they can provide presently and for the future.

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And in looking ahead, the time is nigh to give the likes of Ville Heinola and Logan Stanley the opportunity to be everyday players or parlay them into assets.

The latter might also clear a path of strong consideration for keeping heart-and-soul defenceman Brenden Dillon in the fold.

Click to play video: 'Jets fans react to playoff loss'

Jets fans react to playoff loss

Cheveldayoff has said, repeatedly, nothing is off the table, so there is the potential for a buyout to clear cap space.

Nikolaj Ehlers is among several players on an expiring contract when the puck drops in the fall. Does that cloud his future in Winnipeg as others have already reported?

For all of Ehlers’ highlight-reel exploits in the regular season, the majority of his playoff video has wound up on the cutting room floor. But he hasn’t been alone — far from it.

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Otherwise, the Jets wouldn’t be in the position they find themselves in today.

Click to play video: 'John Shannon on the Jets: Year-end review'

John Shannon on the Jets: Year-end review

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