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Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Never Too Early To Talk Trade Deadline

You might be thinking to yourself that the trade deadline is still over a month away, why bother talking about it now?

Well, this is a Jets blog and it’s our duty to keep people informed and interested during the season.

Also, some people are lobbying for tweaking the roster after seeing the Jets struggle over the past several weeks. With trade talk starting to heat up around the league, let’s look at what this means for the Jets.

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The first question when looking at the trade deadline is determining whether Winnipeg is going to be involved. The answer is clearly ‘yes’, considering their window for competing is now and they believe they have a chance to go all the way. If there was any doubt that Winnipeg is all in, just look at last season when they brought in Stastny. The Jets are looking to make a move once again to bolster their chances during this year’s playoff run.

Now that we have determined the Jets are likely looking to add a piece, the next step is determining what they actually need to add. It’s safe to say that the goaltending is fine. Hellebuyck is the number one netminder and nothing needs to be changed.

The defense is where the first need arises. If the Jets are truly going to compete for the cup, they will have to upgrade their defense. The right side is likely fine with Trouba, Buff, and Myers but the left side could use an improvement. Chiarot has been playing solidly this season, but he definitely could be upgraded to solidify the top four for Winnipeg. This would leave Myers and Kulikov as the third pairing where they can easily handle 15-18 minutes per night.

Up front, the Jets are already loaded. They could make a move for a center, similarly to their move last year for Stastny. The other option is to grab a depth winger for insurance should injuries arise. With the fourth line being so young, a veteran presence could go a long way towards making the bottom six more dangerous.

So we have now identified the needs of the Jets. The three positions we will look at are left handed defensemen, second line centre, and depth winger.

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With the needs identified let’s take a look at some specific players that might fit this mold. These players were picked because of already existent trade rumours as well as their potential fit in Winnipeg. The Jets are likely looking for an expiring contract to help their cap situation going forward so preference is given to players on expiring deals.

First up is Jake Muzzin.

Muzzin is among the top names of players that interest the Winnipeg Jets. He’s a big, strong, left handed defensemen that plays a lot of minutes. The Kings are likely going to be selling some players at the deadline and Muzzin comes in at number two on TSN’s trade bait board. Muzzin has one more year on his deal at a $4 million cap hit. This would be fine for Winnipeg and they would likely be able to squeeze him under the cap next season as well. Muzzin has topped forty points twice in his career, and has averaged over 21 minutes since coming into the league in 2010-11.

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Muzzin is a simple plug and play defensemen that should be able to fit alongside Byfuglien on the second pair.

While Muzzin would sort out the defense, there are a few candidates for the boost at center. The biggest two names that have been mentioned are Matt Duchene, and Kevin Hayes. I am giving preference to Hayes because he will likely be cheaper to acquire than Duchene. Hayes’ contract is expiring this summer so the Jets won’t have to worry about his salary on the books next season. Hayes is having a strong season and has progressed nicely throughout his career. The Jets are reportedly in the mix for him and he would likely bolster the second line and allow Little to move down and play with some different linemates. Hayes appears to be a strong playmaker as he currently leads the Rangers in assists by a wide margin. At 5 on 5, he has 1.9 assists per 60, which easily puts him first on the team (Zibanejad is second at 1.1)

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That 1.9 assists/60 mark actually puts Hayes near the top of the league as well. There are only 12 players ahead of Hayes in that regard. If he is able to fit alongside Laine, the Jets could have a dynamite second line during the playoffs.

The last potential piece to examine is the depth winger role. The fourth line for Winnipeg lacks the ability to score and they often get caught just skating around without actually generating chances.

A trade for someone like Wayne Simmonds could immensely help the fourth line for the Jets. Simmonds is having a down year, but has scored over 30 goals twice and over 20 goals every year since 2011 (not including lockout year). Having him on the fourth line with Roslovic and Perreault would be a really interesting look. Simmonds also has the ability to play up in the lineup as he’s played with elite players throughout his career. If an injury arose, he would be able to mix and match with almost anyone on the ice. His contract is favourable as he’s looking for a new deal this summer and the price to acquire him would certainly be less than someone like Duchene or Hayes.

Lastly, if you put stock into toughness and grit during the playoffs, Simmonds is the man you want. With a nose for the puck and the ability to grind in front of the net, he is a valuable piece when a team needs a hard working player.

With the trade deadline so far away, these are very rough suggestions at what the Jets might be looking to do. As things begin to draw nearer Jetsnation will have all the coverage with news, rumours, and opinions about what Cheveldayoff needs to do.