Hockey Night In Canada’s “Headlines” segment featured a little bit of talk about the Jets and their prospects (both literally and figuratively) for a trade coming up in the next two weeks leading up to the deadline.
If the Jets are going to make a deal at the deadline to get a player like a Matt Duchene or Mark Stone or even and Artemi Panarin (I’d much rather see the Bread Man in Winnipeg before seeing him in Nashville) then the Jets are likely going to have to give up a quality prospect in return. We can’t bury our head in the sand about that or try to pass off Mason Appleton or Jansen Harkins as top level prospects that other teams would be fine with.
But if Sami Niku – and for that matter Jack Roslovic who has also had his name thrown around in a few trade rumors– is headed out of town, then the return better coming back has to be more than just a rental player for the next three months.
With Duchene, Stone, Panarin or any of the other possible pending UFA’s on the market, the chances that Winnipeg retains them beyond the 2018-19 season are very slim even if both sides want to make it happen. Winnipeg’s cap situation is such that even without a move made, there are a lot of question marks going forward with Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine’s new pending deals not to mention what needs to happen going forward with Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba.
The Jets could find ways to free up cash and cap space. Trading Bryan Little would be one option but he has a 14 team no movement clause. Trading Dmitry Kulikov or Mathieu Perreault could also be options but both have limited no trade clauses as well.
Any player the Jets bring in over the next two weeks is likely going to be a rental, but Niku and Roslovic are extremely high prices to pay for a player you’d only get about 20 regular season games and a shot at 16 playoff wins with. Not just in terms of talent level, but both Sami and Jack still have one more year of their entry level contracts remaining after this season.
Roslovic is already in the NHL, Niku arguably should be playing in NHL games as well. Having NHL level players on your roster filling important roles while counting for less than a million dollars under the cap is essentially like a free space on a bingo card. That is what an NHL team would be getting with those players.
If another NHL team is going to insist on one of those two players from the Jets, then a player under team control beyond just this season at a reasonable salary needs to come back the other way along with the rental. Chris Tierney or Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Sens. Oliver Bjorkstrand or Markus Nutivaara from the Blue Jackets. A player along those lines.
Jets fans shouldn’t be against the idea of trading a Niku or a Roslovic – preferably they don’t, but hey, “banners fly forever” and if moving them leads to a Stanley Cup parade in mid-June, have at it.
But the Jets should be adamant that the full return they get for one or both of those players doesn’t just disappear come July 1.