We are just over a week away from the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday, March 1st and the Winnipeg Jets currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with 61 points, one point behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild card spot (Calgary has played three fewer games).
The Jets have one more game before their bye week (against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight) and have 19 games left on the schedule after that. The Jets have won three of their last four games and Jets super rookie Patrik Laine was just named the NHL’s 1st Star of the Week (4 games played, 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points).
The reality is that the Jets have been below .500 for most of the season but they still have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs after wins over the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators (and an overtime point in Pittsburgh).
So what is Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff going to do?
Well, Cheveldayoff has some important decisions to make. Cheveldayoff has a long term plan so the Jets recent wins won’t change that significantly but you have to wonder if the Jets recent success prompts the Jets boss to contemplate a move that could boost his team.
Let’s first look at which players the Jets might move:
– F Drew Stafford. Stafford is in the final year of his contract that pays him $4.35 million per year and he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1st if he doesn’t re-sign with the Jets. Stafford (illness) has not played the last two games for the Jets but is expected back soon (as early as tonight against Toronto). Stafford, 31, does not appear to factor into the Jets long terms plans and he has just 12 points in 39 games this year. The Jets may trade Stafford for a draft pick or risk losing him for nothing in July.
– G Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec is also in the final year of his contract ($3.9 million AAV). Pavelec has been out of the line-up for the Jets since a game back on February 7th against the Minnesota Wild with a lower body injury. He has been back on the ice recently however and is expected to be back soon. Pavelec also doesn’t appear to be someone who factors into the Jets long term plans with Connor Hellebuyck locked in as the team’s number 1 goalie for now. A team looking for goalie depth heading into the playoffs might give up a draft pick or depth player for Pavelec.
– F Mathieu Perreault. Perreault signed a 4 year, $16.5 million contract extension last July which doesn’t kick in until next season but he is someone who the Jets might consider moving. The 29-year-old has been inconsistent this year with six goals and 15 assists in 45 games. He is also injury prone. But most importantly, he might be exposed by the Jets in the upcoming expansion draft. Could the Jets move him before the Trade Deadline instead of losing him for nothing in the expansion draft? It’s a possibility.
– D Paul Postma. The 27 year old defenceman is in the final year of his contract ($887,500 per year) and is set to become a UFA on July 1st. Postma has quietly had a decent year for the Jets, playing in 56 regular season games and chipping in a goal and 11 assists. Postma is a depth defenceman no doubt but he is someone who could attract some interest from teams looking for some help on the blue line. I personally don’t think he will be moved because Toby Enstrom and Tyler Myers are both out of the line-up right now and the Jets need Postma.
Could the Jets be buyers?
Depending on how the Jets do in their next two games prior to March 1st (tonight on the road against Toronto and next Tuesday at home against the Minnesota Wild) and also how the other teams the Jets are competing with for the last two playoff spots fair during their five day break (Calgary, Los Angeles and Nashville), the Jets may look to acquire a player or two who could help them for the final playoff push.
I wouldn’t bet on it though.
Aside from the 2014’15 season when Kevin Cheveldayoff acquired Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak prior to the Trade Deadline, the Jets have traditionally been a quiet team around this time of year. Now that doesn’t mean that the Jets won’t look to make a move to improve their team but the probability of the Jets moving a roster player or young prospect like Jack Roslovic or Kyle Connor is low.
Complicating matters somewhat is that the Jets currently have four regulars out of the line-up due to injury (Tyler Myers, Toby Enstrom, Andrew Copp and Marko Dano). Myers won’t be back until April at the earliest and Toby Enstrom is expected to be out 1-2 more weeks. Marko Dano is expected to be back in the line-up soon (injured December 31st, originally supposed to be out 6-9 weeks) while Copp has missed the last three games with an upper body injury and it is not known how soon he will be back in the line-up. When Myers, Enstrom, Dano and Copp return to the line-up, those will be considered like trade deadline acquisitions for the Jets, so Cheveldayoff may not see any reason to acquire a roster player.
The Jets could end up moving pending UFA’s Drew Stafford and Ondrej Pavelec prior to March 1st or they could stand pat. History has taught us that the Jets don’t make many moves around this time of year so to believe that this year will be any different would be foolish.
What do you think? Are you expecting the Jets to make some moves prior to the March 1st Trade Deadline? Let us know in the comments section below…