With the Draft Lottery taken care of, the next big “event” lined up that concerns the Winnipeg Jets is the expansion draft that will take place June 21st. The picks will be announced during the NHL awards which is just all kinds of strange but still very cool considering the entire event is being held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will be in front of the home town Knights fans.
It does make me wonder if they will announce trades made during the draft between award presentations. Maybe they can get Snoop Dogg to help be a presenter:
“Before I drop names for Lady Byng’s beautiful hardware, I foshizzle have a tradizzle to delizzle…”
Anyway to the matter as it relates to the Winnipeg Jets, the harsh truth is that they are going to lose a player and it will likely be a one with some established value, be it a quality young goalie, a veteran forward that is under-appreciated by fans and media alike, or a younger forward with the ability to be a solid NHL talent over the next four or five seasons.
Because the Jets are so tight lipped and keep everything so close to the vest it’s hard to get a true read on what direction management is leaning towards, so as we await the Jets protected list, here is a list of three things you can maybe expect to see – predictions for lack of a better phrase – from the Jets.
1 – Perreault will be protected. So will Lowry.
It’s seems crazy that the last few weeks of the season devolved into a mad debate of Perreault vs Lowry in terms of which player had more value to the Jets and who should be left exposed.
The answer of course is both should be protected.
Perreault proved in the final month of the season that he is a very strong winger (assuming your two centers are Scheifele and Little) in a top six forward role that can also provide help on the power play. If needed he can slide down to a center role on the third line and provide a huge boost there as well.
Lowry did well enough himself this season mostly playing on the third line. Fans overlooked any accomplishments he may have had though due to his usage on the power play where I think everyone can agree it was on the “little too much time” side of things – especially when you consider his ice time with the man advantage compared to that of Patrik Laine. As good as Lowry was on the third line though, he’d likely shine as a fourth line center next season and before you think of that as a demotion of sorts for Adam, please take time to read John Malloy’s excellent piece on how the Jets should be shifting their thinking when it comes to line deployment.
If I could find a way to force Jets management and coaches to read that, I would.
Perreault and Lowry should be considered key pieces of the Jets forward group going into next season. Not necessarily equals granted, but both important for the team’s forward depth.
2 – Enstrom isn’t being asked to waive his NMC
Another theory / idea that has been floated around is that the Jets should ask Tobias Enstrom to waive his no movement clause. If the Jets even did dare to ask – which I get the sense they really haven’t – it’s been more as sort of a question in passing and not pursued as a serious option.
In some ways it does make sense for the Jets to want to try such a play. Have him waive his NMC so that the Jets aren’t obligated to protect him, gamble that Vegas wouldn’t claim the 32 year old, 10 year NHL veteran who is coming off maybe the worst season statistically of his career. This gives the Jets a “free” protect slot to cover all the players that they’d ideally like to protect.
The chances that Vegas would want Enstrom should be low given his declining play and still fairly large contract that runs for another two seasons, but there is still a chance that the Knights wouldn’t mind veteran presence on what would be a young blue line and having Toby as that guy wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. It’s not like Vegas is going to have any big ticket 6+ million dollar players in their lineup the next few seasons, so Enstrom’s contract isn’t that much of a deterrent is it?
But in case you haven’t noticed, the Jets aren’t a franchise that likes to gamble. The Hutch and Helle experienment this past season notwithstanding.
Enstrom is likely to stay put.
3 – Hutch is likely who the Jets want Vegas to take.
NHL teams go into expansion drafts hoping to steer the expansion team into taking which a player (within reason of course) they would most like to “give up” to that team. Or, if they do not have a single player in mind, they at least have a list of players that they can’t protect that they’d rather not see taken away.
In the past this has been done with trades and a little back-room slight of hand dealing between GMs, but this time around the NHL has put a handful of restrictions in place with the intent to not let anyone loophole their way into keeping the players they want and leaving the Vegas Golden Knights with scraps. No more having a team draft a player and then sending him right back to that club in exchange for draft picks or a couple of lesser quality players in order to fill out an expansion team’s depth chart.
With that in mind, teams have to get creative if they want to make sure to hold on to certain players that they may have to leave exposed due to one situation or another.
When Michael Hitchinson signed a two year extension last summer, everyone assumed it was with the idea that he was going to be left exposed in the expansion draft the following summer. Connor Hellebuyck was going to be protected, Pavelec was going to be out the door as a free agent and with Eric Comrie still on the depth chart, leaving a goalie like Hutch exposed on the expansion draft list seemed to make the most sense a year ago and it still makes the most sense now.
A new team like Vegas would be crazy not to want to have a solid young goalie like Hutch on their roster. He has proven to be a capable backup (especially late in this past season) and still has solid potential to be a good #1 for an NHL club.
Not to mention, it would help the Jets clear up their goaltending situation and open a spot for a free agent or trade to be made a goalie few weeks later.
If the Jets did expose a Perreault or Lowry, they would run the risk Vegas taking one of them instead of Hutch. If they leave players like Armia and Matthias exposed, Vegas GM George McPhee may be more likely to target the young goaltender with their pick.
If the Jets have to give up a player, Hutch would be the one they’d likely be fine with losing.
In the end these are simply educated guesses and the Jets could very well be ok exposing Lowry or Perreault or have no intention at all of losing Hutchinson.
What can be said for certain is with as little roster movement as this club has had over the last season or so, any player movement now – even a protected list – will raise some interesting debate with Jets fans and media.
(Ed. Note: When this originally published, the final line on point three states “players like Dano and Matthias” as possible players left exposed. This was a bit of a mistake as Marko Dano is highly likely to be protected as well, so this was changed to Joel Armia. We’ll have more soon on potential players protected and why names like Dano and Copp and likely to be protected while Armia and Myers will be left off the list. – Art)