Jacob Trouba, Ben Chiarot, Tyler Myers. Regardless of what you think about those three players, they each played over 75 games each for the Winnipeg Jets this past season and their departures mean half of the everyday lineup the Jets iced last season is now gone. In their place, the Jets will likely look to Neal Pionk – the defenseman the Jets got back in exchange for Trouba – and hope that the likes of Sami Niku, Tucker Poolman and Nathan Beaulieu are ready to step into bigger roles with the NHL club this coming season or hope that Dmitry Kulikov can have a healthy and productive year – something he hasn’t been able to do since the 2015-16 season in Florida.
There is a chance the Jets could still land a free agent defenseman, but the pickings for a quality defenseman that won’t end up at best being a risky contract to take on are slim. There of course is Jake Gardiner still available, but his contract demands may be too rich for a Jets team that already has one defenseman with a history of injury question marks and after that the available talent drops off significantly. Think Luca Sbisa, Brooks Orpik and Ben Lovejoy.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could pull the trigger on a trade to bring in some defenseive help. Those pesky rumors that the team could be shopping Nik Ehlers still float around and if trading Ehlers is still an option on the table (and we’re on record as saying it shouldn’t be, but nevertheless) then one would hope Cheveldayoff can get fair value for him and a bonafide top four defenseman.
(By the way, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is *not* the kind of player and the Jets need to stay the hell away from him, especially if the ask from Buffalo is Ehlers.)
There are still two months left of Summer until the start of training camp and the roster is by no means established in stone just yet, but at this point we want to ask you about the state of the Winnipeg Jets defense.
So in today’s What Would You Do Wednesday (being asked on a Thursday) question, we want to know: What would you as Jets GM do to help the defensive lineup? Conversely, if there are no changes in the roster to be made and you’re deciding to roll with the seven players the Jets have now – Byfuglien, Pionk, Morrissey Niku, Beaulieu, Poolman and Kulikov – then how would you have them line up come October when the puck drops on a new season?
Let us know your thoughts and what trades you’d make in the comments below or on either our Twitter feed or Facebook page! As always, we’re going to go over some of the best and/or most thoughtful replies next week.