April 02 2013 04:12AM
Dropping their third straight game, and 5th of their last 7 but still atop the Southeast Division, the Jets are in an unenviable place for this deadline. It's clear that this roster needs upgrading to reasonably expect to advance in the playoffs, and perhaps even just to make them. A second line right winger with some scoring ability, a third-line left winger who can play both ways and drive the play, maybe a depth defenceman, and even another depth forward could all reasonably be put on a wish list for the short-term, while a solution in net, more high-end talent, and another top 4 defenceman are likely on everyone's long-term radar. With just 10 players from their current roster under contract for next year and over $30M in estimated cap space, the Jets face a challenging question this deadline, and one that plagued the Thrashers for a decade. Is this rebuild going to require a 'scortched earth' approach, or will the Jets attempt to compete while adding prospects? More specifically, how should the Jets manage soon-to-be UFAs and RFAs knowing that they don't have better replacements waiting next season? And how should they approach the deadline given they currently have a 48% chance of making the playoffs?
Cheveldayoff has made it clear that the team intends to build from within, and boasts 4 picks inside the top 60 of a very high-end draft along with Scheifele and Trouba getting closer to NHL action. But the pipeline holds few other assets, with Patrice Cormier seeing extremely limited minutes (in number and effectiveness) during his recent call up, Eric O'Dell impressing somewhat unexpectedly on a bad IceCaps team, and Ivan Telegin having an underwhelming season derailed by injury. On the blue line, Postma continues to project as a specialist despite passing his 24th birthday, and Zach Redmond was impressive in an early call up but also had his season cut short by injury (pun bonus!) while playing in a limited role.
Meanwhile, the team faces UFA decisions on depth forwards Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, and Antti Miettinen, as well as Clitsome and anchor-to-our-penalty-kill Ron Hainsey. Though all of these players have faced and even deserved some scorn from the fanbase this year, Antropov is the 6th highest scorer on the team (5th among forwards) and Hainsey is -2 while playing tough minutes for a team that is -8 at even strength. Advanced stats tell us Hainsey is playing some of the toughest competition in the league on a consistent basis, and has a similar role to other noteable shut down defencemen like Dan Girdardi, Brooks Orpik, Robyn Regehr, and Brad Stuart. On top of that, he plays more than three minutes a night on the penalty kill. He's a player that is critical to the Jets success this season, but also can't be allowed to leave the team without assets coming back.
This is not a deep UFA class, and the Jets don't have replacements on the roster or in the system for their free agents to be. Equally important is the fact that the team has an opportunity at the playoffs, home ice advantage, and a division title the season before entering a much more challenging division. Ask Oilers fans, Leafs fans, or even Thrashers fans how important a playoff birth is to a franchise.
Wednesday will come with some hard decisions for the franchise, and more than other teams, the Jets will show their intention for how the rebuild will continue. Will the Jets sell their UFAs and accept losing this season and possibly into next? Or will they add the pieces so clearly missing on this team and attempt to add wins along with prospects?
Armchair GMs sound off in the comments.
April 01 2013 11:26AM
One more month. Today starts the home stretch of the NHL season and the Jets are currently holding on to a playoff spot. Frustratingly, they are just holding on. A mere four points separates the current Southeast Division leading Jets from the 11th place Washington Capitals and day by day you can feel the pressure mounting. With the win on Saturday, the Hurricanes moved within 4 points of the Jets with 3 games in hand. Now, the ‘Canes do need to win those games to move ahead of the Jets, but it’s never a comfortable feeling to know that you can drop in the standings and not be able to fight it. Today's matchup against the Rangers is one the Jets need to win if they want to help secure themselves and show that they belong in the playoffs.
March 30 2013 09:50PM
As the trade deadline approaches, the Jets are flirting with a Division Title. Though the focus is still building from within, the team sits in a position to buy for a playoff birth and even a banner raising come October. Sure it's the Southeast Division Champion banner, but thanks to realignment, our kids won't know that isn't impressive.
In the lead up, we'll trot out some ideas for trade targets for the Jets in the hopes of being able to say 'I told you so' later on. Today we finally look at bumping Mittens down the roster by acquiring "Fu man-" Drew Stafford.
March 28 2013 04:06PM
Hey, those Penguins are big news, aren’t they? By acquiring prized deadline mover and the best right winger to ever grace the lobby of a Scotiabank, Jarome Iginla, the Pens have somehow overshadowed their own story of adding hockey-buzz-word inducing Brendan Morrow and Douglas Murray. They’re going “all-in” says GM Ray Shero, but thankfully for the Jets, their best players are almost ‘all out’ with injury tonight. (Preposition play!) Oh, except the highest scorer in the league. But really, Stamkos has a game in hand on Crosby, so assuming he can score 12 points in that game, we’ll have a new #1. Eat it Sid!
March 27 2013 08:07AM
This won’t be a long article, and it is not going to be loaded with in-depth stats. If anything, I am writing it simply as a ‘tip of the hat‘ to a player that for the majority of this season I have been very hard on.
That’s not to say I wasn’t right to be hard on Ondrej Pavelec. After all, he was at times God awful for at least half of the season. His glove hand was pitiful, his rebound control left nothing to be desired, and it could be said that he costed the Jets a handful of games.
Let me take you back to March 8th.