It’s no secret that the Jets have tension in their relationship with young power forward Evander Kane. It’s also no secret that Kane’s name has come up in trade rumours.
Rumours can simply be rumours, but if those rumours were to be true, what could Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff do to make the best of a bad situation?
Kane has yet to eclipse the numbers he produced in his sophomore year when he scored 30 goals and 57 points in his first season after Atlanta moved to Winnipeg. His next two seasons saw him score at a clip (pro-rated over 82 games) of 29-27-56 and 24-28-52, but he’s in the right ballpark.
The difficulty that Cheveldayoff has to deal with is if he can get fair value for a player that could very easily become a bonafide NHL superstar. Remember this kid will only be 23 when the 2014-15 season starts.
Cheveldayoff has basically sat on his hands since becoming the Jets GM and this may be his time to make a shocking move that would satisfy the fan base that has recently gotten over the honeymoon period. The time is now to deal the disgruntled forward.
A name that I keep thinking of that makes sense in deal is the Avalanche’s Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly, like Kane, has a strained relationship with his current club, and it seems like a straight up hockey trade would benefit both clubs and both players.
O’Reilly is the NHL’s reigning Lady Byng trophy winner, and he just came of a career year. The Avs are definitely reluctant to trade the promising 2-way centre, but they may not have a choice as the contract negotiations have not been going well, and O’Reilly is upset about going to arbitration again.
THE JETS SIDE
The Jets would be dealing an up-and-coming power forward with the potential to be a 40-goal scorer, but they would be receiving a stud centre who is the same age. The Jets have depth issues down the middle (Scheifele, Little, Perreault, Slater) and could use a player of O’Reilly’s calibre.
O’Reilly had a Corsi of 48.4% on what was shockingly a bottom-five possession team, but previously had three consecutive seasons above 50% going 50.5%, 54.6% and 55.1% in his first three seasons in the NHL. He’s a highly disciplined player, and only took a mere two penalties all season. Excuse for stating the obvious but that is absolutely incredible!
The biggest issue would be getting O’Reilly to commit to the NHL’s least desirable city long term. With an arbitration date set for July 23, O’Reilly’s term may only be as long as two years, and if he walks after the fact, then this would be a huge loss for the Jets.
Cheveldayoff has been anything but bold in is tenure, but he needs to show his brass balls to keep the fans from going insane for yet another off-season. Even though management doesn’t always cave to the fans needs, in a city like the hockey-crazed capital of Manitoba, it has to speak for something.
THE AVS SIDE
O’Reilly already attempted to leave the franchise during his previous contract hold-out by signing an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames, so it’s not terribly out of the equation that he wouldn’t leave. With his breakout season, the arbitrator could award O’Reilly with a minimum of $6 million for the next two years, but there’s a chance it could be greater due to his new hardware and amazing upside.
By bringing in Evander Kane, the Avs could shift Calder Trophy winner Nate MacKinnon behind Matt Duchene and they would each have two great wingers on either side. Even though O’Reilly played a part of the season on the wing, he’s a centre. Evander Kane seems to have the same attitude as head coach Patrick Roy, so they might be a match made in heaven.
It’s no secret that Kane has the ability to completely take over a shift. Just watching the highlight package of every goal he’s ever scored and you’ll notice that the majority of his goals stemmed from him driving the play and forcing his way to a high-scoring percentage area. I also noticed that Kane is quite the puck-hog and has a shoot-first mentality. Imagine pairing up that kind of talent with either one of Matt Duchene or Nate MacKinnon and you will know what many NHL defenders will be seeing in their nightmares.
I think the Avs are going to fall far from the position they held in the 2013-14 season, and a lot of their acquisitions in the off-season raised a lot of eyebrows (Iginla for 3 more years? Parenteau for Briere? Stuart playing top pairing minutes?), but Kane would help the club if they can’t keep O’Reilly.
HAS THIS KIND OF DEAL WORKED OUT BEFORE?
One of the most comparable deals I could think of stems from the time the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers swapped Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley.
Heatley was coming off 25-point, 31-game season with the Thrashers when tragedy struck and he accidentally killed his teammate Dan Snyder. He needed to get away and he was coming off an 89 point season the year before. After the lockout, Heatley was dealt to the Senators and he immediately became a 50-goal 100-point premier player and ended up leading the Sens to a Stanley Cup Final birth in 2007.
Hossa on the other hand, was coming off consecutive 80-point seasons where he scored 45 and 36 goals respectively. He also went on to have a solid career in Atlanta scoring 92 and 100 point seasons in his first two tries with the Thrashers.
The deal worked out for both teams, so that’s something to consider.
To a lesser extent, there’s been a few examples that worked out for both sides as well. Benoit Pouliot was spinning his wheels and was labeled a draft-bust after being selected 4th overall in the 2004 draft. Pouliot’s best season in Minnesota was an 11 point, 37 game season and he was shipped to the Canadiens in 2009. Pouliot produced 15 goals and 24 points in 39 games with the Habs, pro-rating to 31-29-50 over a full 82 game season.
The player the Wild got back for Pouliot was Guillaume Latendresse. Latendresse was hovering around the same production before being dealt to the Wild where he scored 25 goals and 37 points in 55 games, pro-rating to 37-18-55 over 82 games.
SUM IT ALL UP
While the history looks like a trade would be the best for each team and each player, nothing is set in stone, and GM’s tend to stay away from dealing young stars because it could come back to bite them.
Sometimes the deals become lopsided victories for one party (Erik Johnson and Jay McClement for Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart), but with every possible reward, there is a possible risk.
Cheveldayoff has done a great job replenishing the prospect cupboards that were left almost bare during the Atlanta years, but he has yet to bring any player of significance to Winnipeg throughout his tenure. The time is now for Cheveldayoff to make a splash and give the poor people of Winnipeg something to be excited about.