Why the Jets Should Fuel Up This Year
48 games into the 2017-18 NHL season the Winnipeg Jets are 1 point ahead of second place in Central Division with a 28-13- 7 record good for 63 points. This record is uber impressive if you take in consideration that the Jets are missing arguably their best player in top line centre Mark Scheifele with an upper body injury expecting him to miss 6-8 weeks. But the team still has depth in practically all positions and one of the deepest prospect pools in the league. Which begs the question, why don't they go all in this year with the hopes to bring the Lord Stanley Cup to Manitoba for the first time in franchise history.
If you look at their division they have some tough teams to go through before entering Round 4 in the playoffs, being last years runner up Nashville Predators, the St. Louis Blues, and the Dallas Stars among others. Now it would be a tight series that really could go either way with any of those teams as they all are flooded with star players, but with the NHL playoffs being anyones game, why not load up a bit more to greater the odds. The Jets roster as it is is already set on the wing with Patrick Laine, Blake Wheeler, Nikolai Ehlers and Kyle Connor. But for insurances, I would still kick tires on a veteran player to come in. Down the middle, they have Bryan Little, a solid 2nd liner, Andrew Copp, Matt Hendricks and of course Scheifele and Shawn Matthias when they come back from injury. So good enough in mind to handle the grueling playoffs. At the back end, I think added a 3-4 or 5-6 defensive man would great just to lock things down. In goal, there are limited options to acquire and I think they need to put trust in Connor Hellebuyck, after all he is having a great season. Steve Mason (let’s hope it doesn’t come to this) and Michael Hutchinson also provide great experience in depth just incase so I would leave this area alone.
D, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes
This would be a pricey acquisition but one that would be well worth it. Hjalmarsson would fit easily into the top 4 and brings 128 playoff games along with 3 rings to the back end. He has 1 more year after this one with a cap hit of $4.1M which is very reasonable for what your getting. This would cost the Jets some NHL ready prospects and picks.
C/W, Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings
One of my personal favourites in the league, Athanasiou has the speed and skill to cause headaches for defenders. I can’t imagine the Red Wings would want to give him up however after going through the contract stalemate. At the ripe age of 24, he benefits the needs for now and the future.
C/W, Zach Smith, Senators
The Sens are in a tough position with many questions so I can see them potentially selling. Zach Smith brings in toughness and a strong defensive forward. Smith has 3x3.25 on his contract that might scare off teams that want a commitment since the Jets will be hard pressed for cap once Laine, Trouba (if he stays) kicks in.
D, Johnny Oduya, Senators
Another Sen that I could potentially see on the move. Oduya has playoff experience from his time as a Blackhawk, and plays a smart game in the backend. The cost of Oduya shouldn’t be too crazy either.
W, Michael Grabner, Rangers
Grabner adds so much speed to the wing and is a penalty kill specialist. Grabner pretty much gets a short handed breakaway once every 3 games it feels like. Cheap contract, and not a steep price, Grabner makes the perfect rental.
W, Andrew Shaw, Canadiens
Shaw is battling the injury bug right now, but I think he would make a nice addition for a lengthy playoff run. Shaw is a pest that isn’t afraid to get in the faces of players on the other team. Considering all the rough stuff that goes on in the playoffs, adding some sandpaper like Shaw could turn out to be positive even though he tends to get carried away at times. Downside is that he has 4 years at $3.9M after this season that is no easy pill to swallow.
The Jets have all their picks in the 2018 draft including two 6th rounders, they acquired one from Boston. If I were the Jets I would dangle forward prospects Jack Roslovic, Brendan Lemieux, Chase De Leo, Jimmy Lodge and JC Lipon and defensive prospects Logan Stanley and G Eric Comrie. The Jets are extremely deep were they can afford to trade young guys like them becuase they still have last years first rounder Kristian Vesalainen, D Dylan Samberg, D Tucker Poolman, C Nic Petan, Kyle Connor and Marko Dano.