Dating back to last offseason, it’s been a wide known fact that the Winnipeg Jets are in desperate need of an elite defenseman and will be looking to acquire one over the next few months. But with a top-four blueliner already on the trading block, could general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff pull the trigger on a potential blockbuster trade?
Needing to find an answer for the Jets’ defensive struggles from this past season, Cheveldayoff and his staff are expected to be very aggressive in their search to improve the team’s blueline this fall and are likely to explore all avenues to accomplish that feat. Considering the front office owns a few interesting trade chips, it seems they might consider utilizing one of them to land a top defenseman in return.
Based on the latest report from Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic, it seems the Jets have reportedly shown interest in defenseman Mathew Dumba, although, he notes that nothing appears to imminent just yet. Referencing the Wild’s need for a top-six center, LeBrun explained how it could be a long shot for the 26-year old to move north, but suggested offering Nikolaj Ehlers could change the conversation.
Considering both Dumba and Ehlers carry cap hits of $6 million per season, this deal would actually make a ton of sense for both sides and Minnesota would also gain two extra seasons of control in this trade, as the 6-foot forward is under contract through the 2024-25 campaign. As for Winnipeg, they’d receive their top-four blueliner, who’s also right-handed, and would have him under team control through the 2022-23 season.
Though the league’s shutdown limited him to just 69 games, the former first-round selection was still able to average 22:30 minutes of ice time, producing six goals, 24 points, 167 shots on net, 98 hits, 88 blocks, and 20 takeaways. Additionally, he also found success in a losing effort to the Vancouver Canucks during the 2020 postseason, averaging 25:03 minutes of ice time, creating one assist, eight blocks, four hits, and one takeaway through four contests.
While this trade would certainly fit the Jets’ needs, the Wild would still be lacking an elite center and would’ve just surrendered their top trade chip. With that in mind, Cheveldayoff would likely be forced to send a few more pieces in return, which is where he might lose interest and search elsewhere.
Keeping an optimistic outlook, perhaps there’s a way Winnipeg could actually pull off this trade without sending a top-six center the other way. Along with Ehlers, adding one of Jack Roslovic or Jansen Harkins, who are both restricted free agents, to the deal and receiving a second or a third-round pick from Minnesota could move the needle forward just enough to execute this blockbuster trade.
Sure, there could be an argument to be made that this package would be too expensive for the Jets, but they seriously need an elite defenseman for next season and this might be their best option to acquire one. If this proposal lands them Dumba, and there’s a possibility it could, then Cheveldayoff should probably accept the deal and move forward with the rest of his offseason priorities.
Regardless of how this Dumba situation plays out, one thing is for sure, this will be considered an unsuccessful offseason if Winnipeg doesn’t acquire a top-four blueliner over the next few months. Looking to return to the postseason in 2021, it’ll likely be tough for them to achieve that goal without a major makeover to their blueline.