In It To Winnik?

Hello people of JetsNation, my name is Jeff and up until this point, I did most of my Nations writing on The Leafs Nation. Moving forward, I’ll also be bringing content to this fine website. If my name looks vaguely familiar, I wrote a Blake Wheeler piece here once. Anyway – here’s the first of what I assume will be more than one posts by me on JetsNation in two thousand and fifteen.

According to Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs are selling a lot of their pieces. Today, he listed Daniel Winnik at an 85% chance of being traded, which supplements his statement that the Winnipeg Jets were interested in acquiring him as recently as four days ago. But is there reason to buy into this theory?

Precedent

When Dreger brought up the potential interest from the Jets, he brought up an interesting point. As the story goes, Winnipeg was pursuing him at the same time as the Leafs in the summer, but the tie-breaker on the two similar offers was the allure of being closer to home. Many also had the Leafs as slightly more likely to succeed in 2014/15 than the Jets at this point; something that has obviously been proven to not be the case.

Player Traits

As mentioned above, Winnik is a native of Toronto, Ontario. Neither young nor particularly old, the 29 (soon to be 30) year old can play both Left Wing and Centre, though the Maple Leafs have assigned most of his time to the former. His most frequent linemate thus far has been Nazem Kadri, with his right winger rotating between the likes of Mike Santorelli and David Clarkson.

Winnik is playing in the first and only year of a 1.3 million dollar contract. Previously, he played with Anaheim, San Jose, Colorado, and Phoenix/Arizona and has 170 points in 541 NHL games.

Performance

So far, Winnik has been a bright spot on the Maple Leafs. While the twenty points he has amassed over fifty one games don’t immediately scream at you like the result of stellar production, it’s worth noting that his powerplay time has been minimal. At five-on-five, Winnik’s 1.52 points per sixty minutes rank eighth among his teammates, and would rank sixth on the Jets. Winnik is used in the defensive zone slightly more than the average Leafs player (-0.7 relative ZS%) and despite that, has had the second best CF% on the team (49.2%, a Christmas miracle for a Maple Leaf). 

If scoring chance statistics are to be believed, Winnik’s success has come in low-risk hockey, being near the bottom of the team in both scoring chances for and against. With that said, he maintains one of the best for/against ratios in that regard. This also helps to explain why his his individual shooting percentage has been so low, currently at 5.8%.

Purchase Cost

The thing that makes Winnik an attractive buy for the Jets is the fact that he’ll come at a lower price in a lot of ways. That pro-rated $1.3 million cap hit is super easy to absorb while still leaving room for other acquisitions, and I can’t imagine that he land in the first round pick or top prospect return territory. Moving Winnik back to centre and giving him third line minutes could alleviate the pressure from the top six, both in giving scoring depth and in containing other teams’ top forwards

Besides, if it works really well, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink straight into a championship mug, the city can easily rebrand itself as Winnikpeg. 

I’m just saying.