What would you do Wednesday: Pending UFA depth forwards

In this instalment of What Would You Do Wednesday, I want to
see what you, the readers, would do with the pending unrestricted free agent
forwards the Jets have.

I want to do it a bit differently though by the option to sign one, trade one and cut one for the three potential forwards. Don’t hold
back and fight for what you believe in.


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As the 2015 NHL deadline approached, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin
Cheveldayoff made huge news in the NHL when he finally loosened his grip on the
team and made a handful of trades to help better the team and provide the Jets
with some much needed depth.

Cheveldayoff sent Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and an unsigned goaltending
prospect to the Buffalo Sabres for quite a handsome return. The Jets received
longtime Sabre and pending UFA Drew Stafford and underachieving towering
pointman Tyler Myers as immediate bodies for the roster, as well as a pair of
prospects in Joel Armia (16th overall pick in 2011) and Brendan
Lemieux (31st overall in 2014) and finally a first round pick in
this year’s draft.

So far in his time with the Jets Stafford has fit in nicely on
Winnipeg’s second line alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. In 21 games
Stafford has amassed 17 points (7g, 10a) and a +2. It is not yet known what
kind of money he is looking for in his new contract, but he can expect to make
somewhere in the ballpark in the 4 million he is making in his current

Next the Jets picked up a rental forward with some offensive
upside in the form of Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes. The 27-year-old
had put up 30 or more points in his last three seasons with the ‘Canes, and was
on pace for 30 before being dealt. The price of a third round pick in 2016 and
a conditional sixth round pick in 2015 seems like a fair trade for a young
forward who has spent his time on Winnipeg’s third and fourth lines. In 15
games the Czech-born forward has a 8 points (1g, 7a) for his new team. He can
expect a slight raise from his 2.95 million dollar contract that expires at the
end of the season, but he is still on the right side of 30 and can prove to be
valuable depth for the Jets in the future.

Finally, just a day before the deadline, Winnipeg acquired Lee
Stempniak from the New York Rangers for Carl Klingberg who had been toiling
away in the minors for years. Stempniak has been another low risk, high reward
move for Cheveldayoff and the Jets, playing on Winnipeg’s third line and once
again adding to the theme of this article, the team’s depth. The 32-year-old
has added six points (3g, 3a) in 13 games with his new club. Like Stafford, Tlusty Stempniak has an expiring contract and could be a bargain signing for
any team next season. His ability to play on any line, and even play a little
power play time, could prove very valuable for most teams next season.


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So now the decision is in your hands, which of these three
pending free agents are on your most wanted lists. You have to make a decision for
each of the three; you have to sign one to a new contract, with how much you
would pay him and how long the term is.

You have to trade one before the 2015 NHL draft in June. Be sure
to include what kind of a return you would want for him.

And the third you let leave for free agency.

Don’t forget to explain why you made your decisions in the
comments below.

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Feel free to let us
know what you would do, you’re the GM, so you tell us in What Would You Do

  • For me…

    Trade: Stafford.
    UFA won’t have much value prior to free agency. Only thing you are trading is negotiating rights, which is not worth much for these players. I wouldn’t keep Stafford as he’s been over performing from inflated percentages and will be overpaid on his next contract. His two way numbers haven’t been very good on Winnipeg either despite playing with quality players.

    Keep: Stempniak.
    Guy has a quality impact on two way numbers, has been a decent support scorer for a long while, and will likely not cost much. He’s also formidable on the PK, although I wouldn’t really want him on the PP to be honest.

    Let go:
    Tlusty. He’s basically Stafford but not scoring as well so his perceived value won’t be inflated like Stafford.

    Random note: Michael Frolik is also a UFA. I would like to keep him as he is definitely the best of the 4 players, although he might be expensive too. It depends on what type of $$ he wants.

  • t_bison

    For me:

    Trade: Stafford – like Garret mentioned, he’s running hot point-wise but he’s a possession boat anchor. Sell high as best you can.

    Sign: Tlusty – 26 years old so hitting his prime, his possession and historical scoring rate is better than Stempniak. He has had some poor puck luck which will keep his price lower.

    Walk: Stempniak – 31 so on the way down, and his possession numbers are worse than Tlusty’s.