Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was candid in his assessment of his own future during his season-ending press conference on Saturday.
Hellebuyck, who is expected to turn 30 in May, flatly rejected the prospect of playing for a rebuilding team and expressed his desire to play for a contending team.
“I am not interested in a reconstruction. I just want to compete,” Hellebuyck said. « I had more fun in five [playoff] games I’ve been doing all year. It’s like a high that you have to chase. You can’t replicate that anywhere other than the playoffs.
« My main goal is to win the Stanley Cup and I’m running out of time, » Hellebuyck added.
Hellebuyck posted a 37–25–2 record and .920 save percentage in 64 games with the Jets during the 2022–23 regular season. The Commerce, Michigan product is under contract at a cap of $6.167 million reached through the end of the 2023-24 season, when he will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
In five games of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Jets, Hellebuyck allowed 18 goals and recorded an .886 save percentage. The Jets fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the first round.
Shortly after their lopsided Game 5 loss to the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena, Jets head coach Rick Bowness tore his team apart for their lack of « backlash » and said his players stars were vastly outdone by their Vegas counterparts.
Sitting alongside Hellebuyck on Saturday, Jets forward Blake Wheeler – stripped of the team captaincy by Bowness before the start of the 2022-23 season – said he took issue with the way Bowness s was behaved during his post-match interview.
« I thought [Bowness] had the opportunity to address us as a team. He could have been honest with us, handled it behind closed doors,” Wheeler said. « I didn’t like the way he behaved after the game. »
Like Hellebuyck, Wheeler is expected to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. The Jets narrowly qualified for the playoffs in 2023 after finishing fourth in the Central Division with a 46–33–3 record and 95 points in 82 games. .