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Jets Need A Change of Philosophy

The Jets are on a fun run right now; the top six is humming along and carrying the team to the end of the season. Laine is currently two goals behind Crosby for the NHL goal scoring lead. Connor Hellebuck is finally looking like he is getting on a roll. However, the stark reality is the Jets are going to miss the playoffs because there are too few games left for the team to gain ground on the rest of the West.

Yet, management has ignored this fact as the team heads towards game 82 and it is becoming an issue. The trade deadline was the most recent symptom of this issue: That they feel the team that has not been good enough all season to contend for playoffs is now good enough. Only moving Drew Stafford points to this.

The story starts in the summer of 2016 when instead of pursuing quality defensive depth; the Jets decide to sign Brian Strait. This is not fine, because Strait is struggling in the AHL and has been unable to provide the defensive depth the Jets require. Warning bells of issues with player evaluation should have started going off.

Jump forward to the season where the Jets have been decimated by defensive injuries and poor play. Players like Mark Barberio, Andrei Marchenko and Klas Dahlbeck all saw time on waivers and all were better depth options than Ben Chiarot and Mark Stuart, yet the Jets opted to pass on them.

Why? No one can say for sure, but signs still point to the Jets’ management believing that Chiarot and Stuart are good players to have for defensive depth, on a team fighting for playoffs. Despite preparing the team for a much improved 2017-18 season, this was Cheveldayoff’s line after the deadline passed:

“Make the playoffs,” Cheveldayoff said when asked about his expectations. “We’re still going to try and continue to push.”

nhl.com/jets/

Players like Shawn Matthias and Mathieu Perreault could have been traded for assets to be used in the future and the Jets would not have seen a huge drop in play next season. The assets could have been used to acquire another defenseman capable of providing actual depth to the top four.

As we all know, this did not happen.

Instead, the Jets are moving forward with relatively the same group, though with Connor Hellebuyck officially as the number one goalie. The goal is playoffs or bust. This is fine, but highly improbable to happen.

So now management openly allows Nic Petan to sit in place of Chris Thorburn, providing the Jets less scoring depth, which the Jets need if they want any chance for the playoffs.

What Is The Issue, Then? 

There are two main issues and they are related and the first has been mentioned multiple times.

The first is player evaluation. The defenseman that passed through waivers are better than anything that has been on the bottom pairing for the Jets. Better players have been sitting in the press box more often than not. Player deployment has not been optimal. This has been an aspect that the Jets have failed miserably in: Being able to evaluate and use what the team has properly and when to pick up players to fix deficiencies.

There is also the issue of the Jets only making the playoffs once since their relocation from Atlanta. The personnel decisions made by management are pointing to the fact that Cheveldayoff and team are unable to properly construct a roster that can not only make the playoffs, but compete for the Stanley Cup.

The Jets have had a decent draft record, but it is hard to mess up the 2nd overall pick when Patrik Laine is available.

But, the honeymoon period for the relocation is over for the Jets and fans desire playoffs, as they should. The core of the team has a good mixture of young and old elite players, but those older players are heading to the wrong side of their peak and will not be able to carry the team as much.

Fans should not have confidence in Kevin Cheveldayoff’s ability to properly construct a Stanley Cup contending team and should not expect the Jets to actually compete until Cheveldayoff is replaced by a new general manager. It is not fair for management to expect fans to continue to be patient and satisfied with how the team is being constructed and the lineup that is being iced.

For the young players being brought into the Jets organization, they cannot feel completely confident that the team will have a proper supporting cast to push the team into the playoffs.

If the current philosophy of management is that everything is fine, then this is a problem because status quo is not good enough for this roster or fair to fans. If management views the team as “good enough,” then it is time for a change.

  • Jason

    I honestly wish I could say how much I enjoyed reading this piece, but I just can not. Thank you, Cammers, for your insight, all the same.
    The Jets were forced to practically give away Drew Stafford at the deadline, and given the French Prince’s troubles this season, I’m not sure he’s as attractive on the market as you imagine. And Matthias? Well…
    I can’t argue with you on Thorburn getting minutes over Petan. It’s ridiculous. But that’s a coaching decision, and you seem to be calling for Chevy’s head.
    I don’t blame Chevy one bit for not making moves this year. We’re going nowhere, and I’m fine with development at the deadline. But I want action in the off-season. If Meyers is healthy, our top four is alright—the bottom pairing needs fixed. And can we just get somebody like Bishop in for less term than he likely wants to mentor Helly for a year or two? Fleury? Nobody, really? These are the problems I want Chevy to solve for next season. Until then, I’m happy to watch the offensive core he’s already built finish with 4 twenty goal scorers and 2 in the top ten points race.

    • Dr. Rocktopus

      Here’s what I’m thinking. The party line at the start of the season was that this would be a development year. Not that I agree with that call overmuch, I think they could have easily built a competitive team going into this year. But. Point remains. They still aren’t spending the cap. They weren’t ever going to make any big moves to fix the D, snag a vet goalie, cause as far as they’re concerned, this year was always going to be a write off. Which sucks for us, obviously. But I’m predicting that management is going to put on their man pants this off-season. Heads will roll, quality signings will be made, and they’ll be aiming to be contenders from the get-go next year.

      Well, a boy can dream, can’t he?

  • Travis

    Ok, I need to correct a big factual mistake in this article. The Jets did NOT (necessarily) pass on Barberio. He went to the Avs because they had first dibs on him, being lowest in the standings. We may have put in a claim for him, the system doesn’t tell us. As for the other two, the case is certainly not made that they are substantially better than Chiarot. Both are extremely ho-hum defencemen.

    Site looks great, though, guys, good work. I don’t care for the necessity of signing in to comment, though. The system was not broken before; there were no trolls and discussion here was always civil. Were things getting testy over at Canucks Army, maybe?

      • Travis

        That is true, you got me there. Jets could have picked him up earlier. However:

        1) Barberio first cleared waivers at the beginning of the year, as part of a roster cut, I believe. The time when the Jets were already having to make tough decisions about whom to keep and whom to cut.
        2) At the time, Tyler Myers was still healthy, everyone was certain Trouba would re-sign sooner rather than later, and maybe Ben Chiarot and the recently acquirened Brian Strait weren’t as terrible as they turned out to be. If we had claimed Barberio off of waivers, we’d had to have guaranteed him a roster spot, denying management a lot of flexibility.
        3) No other team picked him up then, either. There’s a certain safety in numbers when it comes to passing on players.

        While picking him up later in the season would have been a no-brainer (if they could have), I can’t really fault management for passing on him initially.

        • Dr. Rocktopus

          You are not wrong. But from where I was sitting, even from the start of the season Barberio looked a whole lot more reliable than Stu, Chiarot, Melchiori, or (good grief) Strait.

    • Agreed, there is some debate if the Jets “passed” on Barberio and we may never know short of someone from the Jets letting us know what management did. Are Marchenko and Dahlbeck “better”? I don’t think they are, but claiming either of them certainly wouldn’t have hurt the team’s lack of defensive depth especially with the injuries (I think we can all agree Melchiori is nowhere close to being NHL ready right now)

      As for the site, thanks! It is a pain to have to register and comment, but not really anything different from most other sites people go to now and while things are good here at JN, other Nation Network sites have seen too many anonymous keyboard warriors.. And you know what they say about “a few bad apples”