Of the few surprises we’ve had this Winnipeg Jets season, one of the biggest has been the play of Neal Pionk. When the Jets acquired him along with the Jets original 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the New York Rangers for Jacob Trouba, the trade was universally panned by pretty much anyone with a set of two functioning eyes. Even myself and those of us who could be labeled hopeful optimists saw the trade as a potential fail by the club.
Fast forward five months later and now things haven’t turned out so bad. The Jets used that 20th overall pick to pick up a potential late first round steal in Ville Heinola and Pionk it turns out isn’t a complete black hole of talent. If anything, we’ve seen how Pionk has done in Winnipeg while Trouba has struggled at times on Broadway both on the ice and staying healthy early on and we’re starting to wonder just how messed up the Rangers are. Trouba has four goals and 11 assists in 27 games played with the Rangers. He’s on pace for a career year in goals has had at least a point in his last four games played and points in six of his last eight games played.
This isn’t to say that the trade was a masterstroke of genius by GM Kevin Chveldayoff – at least not quite yet. There is still plenty of seasons to go before time ultimately decides if this trade was an outright win for the Jets, but it certainly looks a lot better now than it did in late June. Dare I say, this could be one of those rare deals where both teams benefit and players involved also have nothing to complain about.
But it got me wondering, hindsight being 20/20 and everything, how many would do that deal over again? If the Rangers called up and asked to do that trade over again right now, Heinola and Pionk for Trouba… How many would pull the trigger on that deal?
And going beyond that, who else from last year’s Jets team would Jets fans want to have back on this team now? This is ignoring Salary Cap implications of course. There is no way the Jets could make a reverse Trouba trade happen without triggering the need for a few more moves to be made to work in his new seven year, $57 million dollar deal. Ditto that for some of the following players who left via free agency…
The little Tasmanian Devil who ended up a favorite in Winnipeg was a player many fans would have liked for the team to hold onto this summer, but when he signed a six year deal with $21 million, a lot of those same fans both knew there was no way the Jets could match that kind of term and nor was it that wise to sign him to a deal that was likely a slight over-pay. It’s turned out ok for the Pittsburgh Penguins as he has five goals and 14 points in 28 games played on the Penguins third line as well as their penalty kill.
Myers also falls into that “would have been nice to keep, but not at the price he was going to command” list that Brandon Tanev also occupies. A five year, $30 million deal seems high for a second pairing defenseman and so far he’s done ok in Vancouver, but with four assists in 29 games played with the Canucks and a -0.4 offensive point share rating (last season with Winnipeg he had a 2.0 OPS), one has to imagine they were hoping for a bit more from him. That all said, Myers with Winnipeg this season even with those numbers would still likely be an upgrade over the likes of Anthony Bitetto, Luca Sbisa or Carl Dahlstrom.
When the Montreal Canadiens signed Chiarot to a three year, $10.5 million dollar contract, it wasn’t really thought much of in Winnipeg circles. More power to him for getting that deal because it’s again one that put him out of the Jets price range for where they had him on the roster. But just like Pionk in Winnipeg, Chiarot has actually been a pleasant surprise for the Canadiens. He’s been holding down a top four role on the Habs and his 5v5 numbers are surprisingly ok on the offensive end of things, but not quite as much on the defensive side which is maybe as much a Habs issue as it is a Chiarot problem. Again, if Jets fans had an option to keep him and say trade Dimitry Kulikov over the summer, I think that – again hindsight 20/20 – may have been a wiser move to make.
There was no way the Jets were going to be able to sign the 27 year old Hayes to a seven year, $50 million dollar contract and no one expected him to stay long term when the Jets traded for him at the deadline last season, so that the Jets were able to trade him away to Philly for a draft pick of any kind seemed somewhat ok. Hayes has eight goals and 14 points in 29 games with the Flyers and is on pace for a career year in goals. Maybe in a few months if the debate comes up again in Winnipeg that a second line center is needed, he’ll be yet brought up as a player the Jets ideally could have hung on to over say a Bryan Little if it wasn’t for Little’s NMC.
Others, including but no limited to: Nic Petan, Joe Morrow, Par Lindholm.
I’m almost certain there are more than a few Jets fans who would not only like to see Petan brought back, but be finally given a permanent spot on the Jets roster. No one really shed any tears when Morrow and Lindholm moved on to new clubs, but who knows, there may be a fan or two out there who wish they had never left.
What say you? Are there any former Jets from last season you’d love to bring back as current Jets this season? Do you still deeply regret the Trouba trade this past summer, or have you grown to at least be ok with it? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments section or on either our Twitter feed or Facebook page!