Photo by Krazytea (wikicommons)
Every week or two, I have a few thoughts. Most of the league – save the Jets – have started to make off-season moves in anticipation of the draft on Sunday. Trades, buyouts, and rumours galore in this edition of the Extra Attacker. Below is a smattering of my synaptic output.
The Jets inaction to this point – even in locking up their own RFAs – has a sort of frustrating tone to it. It is plain to every fan and blogger alike what needs to be done on this team, and no doubt management is equally aware. Pavelec is a bottom-end goalie behind a shallow, offence-first defence group who are struggling to prop up an unbalanced forward group with limited high-end talent and a lot of waiver wire cast-offs in important roles. Even a conservative wish is 5 players deep:
- Starting Goalie
- Top 4 ‘multi-tool’ defenceman
- Top 6 RW to play with Kane
- Scoring Centre, preferably with a record of success on the powerplay
- Two-way winger in the Kulemin mould
With just 20 players under contract currently and a shrinking cap forcing other GMs to buy out and move quality players, Cheveldayoff has the opportunity to add a handful of impact players among the 25 names he will sign to contracts before October. An aggressive stance might include compliance buyouts for Jokinen and Pavelec to make way for more talented additions in their spots.
Our frustration comes from the rising possibility that Cheveldayoff won’t make a sincere effort to win – aggressive or conservative – hiding behind the supposed potential of Pavelec’s youth and inexperience (he was drafted in 2005 and has 231 NHL games played, we might remember cynically) and the injuries that quite possibly held the Jets out of the playoffs this year.
Sadly, we know that the Jets had the 25th hardest (5th easiest) schedule in the league last year by playing in a very poor division. Two years into their existence, the Jets still have a losing record against non-Southeast teams, and are entering Conference B as one of only 3 teams to not have made the playoffs either of the last two seasons and with the second fewest combined points over those two years (only Columbus has fewer).
Circumstances are getting harder and the only tell we have – continued patience – suggests that Cheveldayoff wants the high picks that come with losing.
Bought Out Opportunities
- Of course, the hot news today is that Lecavalier is being bought out. Lecavalier is a former 100-pt scorer and the narrative on his career is one of decline. In fact, it should be one of unreasonable expectations.
- Only twice in 14 seasons as a pro has Lecavalier scored more than a point per game. If we take away his best two seasons (200pts in 163 gp) and worst two seasons (65 in 158 gp), he averages .85 pts per game over the remaining 10 years. He consistently plays middle opposition with unimpressive possession results. He’s a solid but not spectacular PP contributor, floating around the 4 points per 60 minutes mark for most of his career.
- Put in simple terms, he’s a name brand, high (but not elite) scoring centre who was overpaid for his production (which isn’t his fault, obviously) and is on the downswing of his career.
- Fans of every team are asking what he could do for their squad today. For the Jets, he’s likely a much better fit than is Olli Jokinen for that same spot, a strong mentor for Mark Scheifele, and could take over Little’s duties on the PP with positive results. If this were NHL13, I’d buy out Jokinen and sign Lecavlier in a heartbeat (and then trade for the 1st overall pick and Landeskog – man that game is easy.) However, Lecavalier probably has little interest in a team that will use up his remaining years without a sniff at the cup.
- Lebrun is still reporting that Brad Richards doesn’t know his future. Everything said about Lecavalier above applies to Richards as well (save being Scheifele’s mentor), and either one is an ideal skill addition to a weak top-6 in Winnipeg. But they’re also equally unlikely to sign without another significant overpay the Jets can’t afford with Jokinen’s $4.5M on the books.
- Danny Briere? $9M over 2 would be ideal for the Jets. Would he still be a good signing at $15M/3?
- How about Bryzgalov? Hear me out – first the Jets sign Andrew Ference to leverage his reputation as an eco-warrior in lobbying the city of Winnipeg to build the requisite number of parks Bryzgalov requires to play in a city, and use that to convince Bryz to save us from Pavelec.
- A couple names for centre – Derek Roy and Stephen Weiss. Roy would immediately become the most offensively talented centre on the team, and a 1st unit PP leader. Weiss has historically been a better version of Bryan Little and would give the Jets two high quality two-way pivots. Both are likely looking in the $4-5M range, but poor seasons in 2013 may drive their prices down into the affordable range for the Jets.
- We’ve talked about fixing the RW with Ryder and Hemsky. News is that Jagr will be a FA on July 5th. He’s still a PP contributor and Jagr in a Jets jersey would be a welcomed hockey trivia moment. Still, as primarily a cycle player, his fit with the vertical-attacking Kane and Jokinen is questionable.
- What would it take to get Jarome Iginla? The Jets a unlikely to be his preferred destination. Still, somehow his 23 points in 28 games with the Conference finalist Penguins isn’t receiving the fanfare it should. Will that equate to a lot of offers in the $20M/4 range? As a team with $28M in cap space, could the Jets tempt the 6 time all-star with term (the elusive 5th year) or star-dollars in $6M range?
- Despite Cheveldayoff’s support of Pavelec in his season-ending press conference, the Jets could add a 1b insurance policy for Pav in Ray Emery, who is gaining attention after a solid season in Chicago.
- Last one: the FA defence group is very poor this year. Rob Scuderi may be available and is better suited to the role Hainsey played last year than the departing LH unionist. If $4M is the asking price from the Kings, would the Jets end up in the $5M range to get him on the phone? Letting Hainsey walk is getting more and more frustrating by the day.
- Ryan Miller is owed $6.25M, but for just one more year and is an elite option from a confused Buffalo management team. 59th overall, Eric O’Dell, and Mark Stuart to get Darcy Regier on the phone? Tough to know what the Sabres could get for an embattled and highly paid goalie after a bad season with the cap shrinking.
- Of course, Luongo remains a draft day trade possibility, but the years left on his contract and his control over where he goes means the Jets are unlikely to even consider it.
- Rumours are that the oft-injured powerforward Ryan Malone is available for very little. His injuries are a concern, but it’s his $4.5M contract until 2016 that makes him available. Though two of the Jets’ 3 best forwards are on the port-side, adding NHL quality players has to be a priority for a team built from the waiver wire. If he could be had for a mid-level prospect such as Ivan Telegin or Julian Melchiori, would he make your 2013/14 depth chart?
Heard from another team that the Blackhawks are shopping center Dave Bolland…
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 27, 2013
- Bolland is such a tempting player for the Jets. I mean, just look at his marriage photos. If they had a title, it would be ‘Shock and Awe.’ (Somehow his marriage photos are a little NSFW) The Jets could use the Bryan Little clone to move up and down the lineup. Bolland could be used in all three disciplines at a reasonable cost of $3.375M. Still, he lacks the offensive punch to improve the Jets scoring meaningfully. What would the Jets have to give up? If Bolland is a salary casualty, then perhaps a second round pick and an equivalent prospect lands him. Adam Lowry (WHL MVP) and the 61st overall (Chicago’s own pick from the Oduya deal) might put them in the conversation. It’s a bit steep for me.
- One more: Shawn Horcoff. He’s overpaid at a $5.5M cap hit, but if the Oilers would hold on to $2M of that, Horcoff could be an ideal 3C for this team. He can slide up when necessary without holding skill players back, is a face-off ace, a great penalty killer, and has had success with the man advantage too. New GM Craig MacTavish has already announced his former Captain’s departure, ending his trade leverage. I bet #91 overall (the Jets second 3rd rd pick, acquired from the Blackhawks) is enough, and if Chevy takes back another contract (1st rd bust Alex Plante comes to mind), I suspect both sides could come away happy.
Obviously the Jets can’t afford them all. Anyone make your wish list of would-be Jets?