Since the Jets returned to Winnipeg there have been a few players that have been absolutely polarizing to their fans. Of course the first that comes to mind is Evander Kane. Kane and Winnipeg never quite felt like a fit and it was just a matter of time before it all blew up, ending with Kane being dealt to Buffalo. There is also the recently retired Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec was an early fan favorite, but his play became as inconsistent as the cheers he would receive and he quickly fell out of favor. Mark Stuart is another and the list goes on, but most recently in the last couple years talks have surrounded Jets forward Nic Petan.
Petan has spent much of his NHL career as the 13th forward while players that some fans would deem less skilled, have found their way on the ice night after night. Fans have argued where he belongs in the lineup and the #freepetan movement has appeared all over Jets twitter. Many fans suggested as training camp opened this year that this was the time for Petan to crack the roster. Unfortunately early on Petan’s father suddenly passed away and Petan returned home for an indefinite period.
Some #NHLJets news: Nic Petan is now back in Winnipeg, currently skating on his own. Expected to join the team soon, although exactly what happens when he does not exactly clear. Petan was granted indefinite leave on Sept. 18 following sudden death of his father. #wfp
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) October 9, 2018
Earlier today, news broke that Petan was now back in the city and skating. While the Jets probably have a few more days before they will be forced to activate him, Petans return does create some roster challenges for Paul Maurice and Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Jets are currently carrying the maximum 23 players on their active NHL roster. Should the Jets want to maintain their current roster, Petan would have to pass through waivers prior to being assigned to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. While he hasn’t seen much playing time, Petan is still considered an asset and likely would find himself in a new home if the Jets did try to go down that road.
Of course there are other options of who could be sent down. Both Brendan Lemieux and Kristian Vesalainen could be sent to the farm team and be waiver exempt, though the former is the far more likely choice. Lemieux has yet to play this season and is in a position where another year in Manitoba playing top minutes may help him. The same could be said for Vesalainen, add to that, if he is sent down prior to playing 10 NHL games his entry level deal would slide an extra year, giving Winnipeg an extra season with the Finnish rookie. Marko Dano is the third option when looking at this possibility, however like Petan, Dano would also have to go through waivers prior to being assigned to Manitoba. The most likely option for Winnipeg is Lemieux going down, which opens a spot for Petan.
This all raises another question. If Petan is brought in as the 13th of 14th forward again, and only plays 10 or 15 games, is it really worth it? Or, is Petan just taking a roster spot away from a guy that may become an everyday player, like Lemieux or Vesalainen? Ten or 15 games along with a years worth of practices and game day skates may be far more valuable for an up and comer. This likely has Jets brass considering other options. One of those options, how about a trade?
I have been making the case for a Petan trade for the last few years. While I still belive that the young forward can be a contributor in the NHL and will one day be an everyday player, I don’t see that happening in Winnipeg. At this point there are too many bodies in front of him and too many young guys only a step or two behind him. Instead explore his value on the open market. Yes having him gives you some depth and he is a good option if one of your top centers gets hurt, but is he more value to someone else? If so, what can he get you? These are conversations that I believe Jets management would be foolish to not have.
WWYDW is not about me and my opinions though, it’s about you, the cherished reader. All of this brings us to this week’s WWYDW question…
If you were making roster decisions for Winnipeg what would you do with Nic Petan?
If you think he should be on the ice night in night out where do you slide him into the lineup? Do your cut your losses now and trade him while there is still value? Does having him in the press box or down in the AHL give you depth that is currently irreplaceable? Does Petan having to pass through waivers effect any of your decisions?