It certainly is a riveting time in the hockey world, with free agency right around the corner. Things are also starting to pick up for the Jets, as we have now heard some rumblings about some soon-to-be UFAs. The basis of this article is to get you up to speed on what we’ve heard so far, and some other guys who should/could be on the radar. As a usually silent market when it comes to rumors, it’s nice to actually hear some Jets rumors over the last few to hype us up for the opening of the free agency season.
Keep in mind all of these are exactly what I said earlier; rumors. So, don’t take this all as fact, but I am going off of some substance here.
Behold: Players Jets have been linked to leading up to Free Agency
Brian Elliott, G
There have been many talks of how Elliott could be a fit in Winnipeg, however, this week has been filled with more talk of the veteran netminder making his way to the Jets.
I'm told UFA goaltender Brian Elliott has been making tentative accommodation plans for Winnipeg. He's on the #nhljets radar.— Rick Ralph (@RickRalphTSN) June 26, 2017
As Rick Ralph said, Elliott has been making “tentative accommodation plans”, which seems to point towards a potential signing. Ted Wyman from the Winnipeg Sun also said this:
For what it's worth, one NHL GM said this week he believes the #NHLJets will sign 32-year-old UFA goaltender Brian Elliott.— Ted Wyman (@Ted_Wyman) June 25, 2017
Speculate as you will, but this has been one of the hottest rumors in the ‘Peg over the past week or so.
Steve Mason, G
I have a few people I trust more than others when it comes to hockey information, and one of those people is Bob McKenzie. I would trust the BobFather more than anyone when it comes to reporting when things happen. Well, Bob was at it again, confirming Ken Wiebe from the Winnipeg Sun’s information that the Jets had some interest in Steve Mason.
You can see all the stats for these two guys in our Free Agency 2017: The Market for Goaltenders
Karl Alzner, D
I’m going to be frank here, and market my dismay with this news. It was reported by Darren Dreger that the Jets have a “strong interest” in Alzner, along with the Montreal Canadiens. Karl Alzner has a brutal net-front presence, and not in a good way. This chart by Micah Blake McCurdy shows how many unblocked shots in front of the net Alzner had.
For the life of me I cannot fathom why Karl Alzner is being touted by traditional types. His net-front defence is atrocious. pic.twitter.com/3AyyTXISeJ— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) June 26, 2017
He also looks to be making upwards of $2.5 Million, and I’m not sure that checks out based on what I’m seeing in his defensive metrics.
Dmitry Kulikov, D
I’ve heard some rumblings about Kulikov, who is coming off a year where he missed a chunk due to a back injury. Once again, I’m not a huge fan of what the Jets would be getting if they acquired Kulikov. Much like Alzner, the metrics don’t look great, however, Garret makes a good point here in saying he could be far more affordable.
Regardless, I would hope the Jets keep their options open to other guys out there (I have a few below they should check out)
Take a look at these D-Men and others in our Free Agency 2017: The Market for Defencemen
Who they should take a peek at
Matt Hunwick, 32, has spent the past two years in Toronto as a top 4-guy. Much like Smith, he wasn’t a major points guy. In 72 games, he put up 19 pts (18 of which were assists) while paired up with Morgan Reilly for parts of last season. He averaged 2:40 on the PK, which was actually down from the previous year when he sat at 3:43. His defensive game is relatively solid, and with playing alongside a young guy like Reilly, he is able to skate around a bit.
Now, I know Wiercioch’s numbers last year left much to be desired, however, when he played for Ottawa, his metrics were solid. I pulled a few things from Own The Puck, and compared Wiercioch’s numbers from both 2014-15 and 2016-17 to Ben Chiarot’s numbers from last season.
Here is current Wiercioch after last season in Colorado:
And here is what this graphic looked like with Wiercioch’s numbers from ’14-’15:
Wiercioch was not qualified by Colorado, making him a UFA on July 1st, and I think the Jets could find a quiet but solid bottom-4 left handed defenceman.
So, we’ll see what happens come Saturday, but it’s the most noise I’ve heard out of the Jets in a long time, and I’m just hoping that noise turns into reality.