When news broke today that the Toronto Maple Leafs had signed Daniel Winnik to a 1-year deal, I couldn’t help but think that the Winnipeg Jets dropped the ball once again.
I had the same feeling when the Leafs signed David Booth to a bargain 1-year deal, and I made it known that the Jets could take a look at Dustin Penner.
With the free agent pool depleting and the Jets still having holes in their roster, is there anything left to venture?
DEPTH CHART PROBLEMS
Evander Kane ($5.250m) / Bryan Little ($4.700m) / Blake Wheeler ($5.600m)
Andrew Ladd ($4.400m) / Mark Scheifele ($0.863m) / Dustin Byfuglien ($5.200m)
Eric Tangradi ($0.675m) / Mathieu Perreault ($3.000m) / Michael Frolik (RFA)
Eric O’Dell ($0.650m) / Jim Slater ($1.600m) / Chris Thorburn ($1.200m)
Carl Klingberg ($0.650m) / Patrice Cormier ($0.625m) / Anthony Peluso ($0.563m)
Adam Lowry ($0.828m) / John Albert ($0.585m) / Scott Kosmachuk ($0.720m)
Tobias Enstrom ($5.750m) / Grant Clitsome ($2.067m)
Jacob Trouba ($0.894m) / Zach Bogosian ($5.143m)
Mark Stuart ($2.625m) / Paul Postma ($0.713m)
Adam Pardy ($0.700m) / Keaton Ellerby ($0.700m)
Julian Melchiori ($0.625m) / Will O’Neill ($0.575m)
Ondrej Pavelec ($3.900m)
Michael Hutchinson ($0.575m)
Just looking at that roster should be enough to shiver and shake as a Jets fan, knowing there are cheap options in the free agent pool to improve a club that came close to a playoff spot, but hasn’t made necessary steps to keep growing like the majority of their fellow conference mates.
Eric Tangradi, Chris Thorburn, Eric O’Dell and Anthony Peluso currently stand as the bottom 6 forwards (considering Frolik isn’t signed yet. I know he will be), and between the four of them they produced only 10 goals. Current free agent Matt Halischuk scored half of that on his own and he has not yet received an NHL contract for the upcoming season.
While it’s true that a youngster like Carl Klingberg or Scott Kosmachuk could win a spot in camp and produce 10 goals over the season, it’s still not a sure bet and that could harm the Jets in the short and long run.
The blue line isn’t going to wow anybody, but it is a decent group. Of course the Jets would love to have a sexier name than Clitsome on the top pairing with Tobias Enstrom, but that’s the way the depth chart looks today. Trouba/Bogosian were good together as a pair facing weaker competition, and I don’t think Stuart, Postma, Pardy or Ellerby is ready for strong competition.
In my previous blog today I discussed the goaltending issue, so you all know where I stand there.
With Winnik and Booth off the market, there are only a few names worth looking into for the Jets. I’ve already mentioned Dustin Penner, and he still is the best fit, but what about taking a chance on a guy like Ville Leino??
Leino has made it clear that he intends to play in the NHL this year, and while his time in Buffalo was complete disaster, there’s no reason to believe he can still produce 30-40 points in the NHL. Leino is 4 years removed from his most successful NHL season where he scored 53 points with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11 before parlaying that production into 6 year $27 million deal that he was bought out off during the summer.
If the Jets wanted to get bigger they could look at adding Ryan Malone. Malone has had some troubles with the law and his production has gone down, but he’s still an NHL player who could at very least take some spot duty for the Jets on the wings.
Each of those players have had a positive season here and there and may just be looking for another chance to prove their worth. Loktionov is the wild-card, as he has proven he can thrive in the right situation. How about a line that features Frolik-Perreault-Loktionov??? Not a bad idea eh?
HOW WILL THIS PLAY OUT?
As much as I, along with the entire Jets fan base, would love to see Cheveldayoff make an announcement in the coming days, I suspect we won’t get any news until September as training camp approaches. The most exciting thing to expect to happen until September will be Michael Frolik’s new deal.
I’m sticking with Dustin Penner signing prior to training camp, and I could see TJ Galiardi and Ryan Jones possibly getting tryouts with the Jets, and at least one of them signing. There will be new blood on the roster that you don’t see in my current depth chart, but it will just take some time.