There are 31 picks in the first round of the NHL draft, one each for the 31 clubs in the league, but it just so happens that five different teams hold more than one pick thanks to trades made over the last couple of seasons. The Winnipeg Jets meanwhile, do not have a single pick in the first round. They gave it to the New York Rangers earlier this year in the Kevin Hayes trade deadline deal. The Jets as a matter of fact only have four picks total out of the seven possible they are allotted by the league each year – one in the second round, one in the fourth round and two in the fifth round.
It probably wouldn’t hurt for the Jets to go out and get a first round pick back and since first round picks are kind of valuable, most teams that have one won’t be willing to give it up. But what about the teams that have more than one? What are the chances the Jets could deal with one of those teams?
Picks they have: 9 & 29
The Ducks aren’t exactly in salary cap hell, but they should be proactive and make some moves to clear up some cap space which buying out a player like Corey Perry would help do. The Ducks 29th pick is actually originally San Jose’s that was traded to Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal, and then sent to Anaheim in a trade involving Brandon Montour. it also could have been a higher pick in the mid 20’s had the Blues not made it as far as they did in the playoffs as the condition of the trade between Buffalo and Anaheim was that the Ducks would get the higher pick between San Jose and St. Louis – both picks then owned by the Sabres.
If this was a year or two earlier, the Jets may have been able to convince the Ducks to send one of the picks over for an established NHL’er, but now the Ducks need to re-tool. The 29th pick being a bit lower than anticipated by the Ducks may make it possible for a move, but the Ducks prospect system isn’t exactly deep and they could use the help with an extra draft picks.
Picks they have: 7 & 30
The Sabres at one point very briefly had three first round picks, but as noted above traded one of them to the Ducks. They picked up the 30th pick from the St. Louis Blues in the Ryan O’Reilly deal and had San Jose’s first round pick as well in the deal that send Evander Kane to San Jose.
Buffalo has been in rebuild mode for a long time and a steady stream of relatively high picks has helped them build up a good foundation of young prospects. There is likely no way the Jets could persuade the Sabres to part with the number seven pick and with no second round pick available to them, it’s unlikely the Sabres would want to trade away 30 unless they could get a couple of second and / or third round picks in exchange and the Jets can’t help in that area.
Picks they have: 4 & 16
Thanks to the gross incompetence of the Ottawa Senators, one of the youngest and most promising teams in the NHL gets to stack their roster and their already pretty good prospects list a little more with a top five pick and a pretty good mid-round pick to boot. That alone makes life tougher for the Jets as the Avs begin to challenge for Central division supremacy, but it also means there is likely no way the Avs will be trading either of those picks – especially to a division rival.
Los Angeles Kings
Picks they have: 5 & 22
Much like the Ducks, the Kings a year or two ago may have entertained the idea of trading a pick for a current NHL player as they would have been in “win-now” mode, but the Kings are hurting in the prospect department with one of the lowest ranked prospect groups in the entire league. It’s the reason the Kings stocked up on picks, adding an extra first round pick from the Leafs on top of the third and fourth round picks they picked up from the Capitals and Flames respectively.
Even if the Jets wanted to dangle a more ready NHL prospect in front of the Kings, Los Angeles still has some big time contracts that will make things difficult. Like all the other teams listed, there is a chance that 22nd pick is obtainable and the Kings could be comfortable trading it if the Jets were willing to work out a package that didn’t involve losing the second round pick, but the Kings should think about going into a full rebuild mode and don’t really need a near or even NHL ready prospect with a year or two left on his ELC deal.
New York Rangers
Picks they have: 2 & 20
Hey, can we have our pick back? The Rangers 20th pick of course originally belonged to Winnipeg and was acquired in the Kevin Hayes trade. (The best part of that deal still remains that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made it a top three protected pick)
New York has a nice pool of prospects – helped by the three first round picks they had in 2018 – and of course were very fortunate to get the Winnipeg Jets-like bounce up in the draft lottery, going from a possible seventh overall pick to the second.
The Rangers are still in a bit of a rebuild but are perhaps closer to starting to see results come from their efforts, so if they can dangle a Jacob Trouba or even dare we say a Kyle Connor in some sort of package deal in front of them, there could be a deal to be made…
For the 20th pick that is. There’s no way in heck the Rangers trade the second overall pick.
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