High expectations and middling results have led to the Winnipeg Jets being at risk of missing the playoffs. And after four years of sliding downhill from the high of 2017-18, it might be time to start over. The obvious Winnipeg Jets trades are leading off, but then it gets interesting.
Winnipeg Jets Trades: New Shoes or New Feet?
The Winnipeg Jets expected a lot more out of the 2021-22 season than this. It’s not like the season has been a disaster, as far as their record is concerned. The Jets haven’t dropped below “NHL .500” since they beat the Nashville Predators on October 23rd. But that doesn’t mean it’s been good. Four-, five-, and six-game losing streaks accompany winning in fits and starts. Ten days before the NHL trade deadline they sit at 26-22-10. Five points and four teams stand between them and a playoff spot. Changes have to come.
The revamped defence, long a sore point, was supposed to help Connor Hellebuyck and whoever else they had in net. It hasn’t. The players relied on to provide the offence have been, once again, fine. Hellebuyck himself has had a hard year, though, and combined with a defence that has been riding on the edge, “fine” isn’t enough to prevent a fall. The question is how far to fall.
There are plenty of contracts here signed with crossed fingers and good health in mind. The amounts aren’t terrible, but the length of them has some fans holding their breath. With age creeping up on the team’s core, do they go for a quick turnaround or total revamp? Our money is on them going for a quick turnaround. So, going into these prospective Winnipeg Jets trades with the idea of getting assets in the form of players, picks, or prospects.
2 Trades, 2 Obvious
The first assumption that we’re running with is they are chalking this season up to bad oysters. Things just went wrong, let’s look to next year instead of overreacting. There are two deals they can make which stand out immediately – the unrestricted free agents.
The Senior Statesman
To Winnipeg Jets:
2022 5th-round pick
Speaking of teams with limited options, may we present the Washington Capitals and the “How Do The Frikkin’ Pittsburgh Penguins Do It?” Tour of 2022! They want to challenge year after year while their stars remain viable, so adding a centre is a reasonable goal. In Stastny, Washington gets the better puck handler, better producer, and a player who can be at centre or left-wing as needed. He’s in town for the playoffs and nothing else. Having his deal expire at the end of the season isn’t the worst of all worlds, either. Hope he gets a good run from it.
Frankly, the only reason Eller is going back is to make the cap numbers work between two crunched teams. Eller is a useful guy, but Winnipeg hardly needs another centre with Cole Perfetti coming up. Still, he’s signed for another season and can be flipped for some blue line help or perhaps a pick in the offseason.
To Winnipeg Jets:
Conditional 2023 2nd round pick, becomes 2023 1st if Avalanche makes Stanley Cup Final
If you’re going to go for it, go for it. The Avs traded away three of their first four picks this year, what’s another one next? They have NOT been happy with the playoffs ending at two rounds three seasons running. Copp is a big improvement on Darren Helm at centre and an extra layer of insurance for the team.
Winnipeg needs picks like Mars needs women. Sure, this helps a Central Division rival, but Winnipeg won’t be meeting them there this year. And having another asset by next year’s deadline day can be useful if the season looks promising.
Make Room! Make Room!
To Winnipeg Jets:
There’s going for it, then there’s desperate to win something. Anything. And the Maple Leafs are sitting right there, knowing one of the Florida teams is waiting. With Jake Muzzin on the sidelines for an unknown amount of time, the Leafs aren’t going to drop out of the playoff race – but that’s not the goal, is it? Adding the stability of DeMelo at the right time isn’t going to hurt. He’s not going to light it up for you, but DeMelo keeps the pressure off the kids and is a decent addition. The bill is going to come, but with the load of talent Toronto’s built, it can wait.
Meanwhile, this defence isn’t working for Winnipeg. They need room to add offence, and Ville Heinola is waiting. They need to have DeMelo agree to the move, and that can throw a spanner in the works. But assuming he wants to go, bringing back a couple of prospects is more likely than getting draft picks from Toronto. As well as Hirovnen has done in the Liiga, he’s not a lock to make the NHL. Including the wildcard 20-year-old goaltender Akhtyamov is accepting that goaltenders are voodoo.
So, three deals, three objectives. And a clear example of why having cap room is a big deal for any team who wants to improve mid-season.