Winnipeg Jets: Under the Radar Trade Options

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 17: Mark Letestu
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 17: Mark Letestu /

The 2018 trade deadline bonanza is already underway with Petr Mrazek going to Philly and Nick Holden going to Boston. Both trades are not blockbusters but will go a long way to helping their respective new teams. Are there some under-the-radar names that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could acquire to shore up the Winnipeg Jets for a long playoff run?

The Winnipeg Jets are not a healthy team right now. Even so, they are 6-3 nine games into their 10 game homestand. They don’t have a lot of holes in their lineup outside of injuries. However, one area they can look to improve upon is depth scoring. Kyle Connor is heating up, but guys like Nicolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault have not been reliable point producers as of late. While the entire Joel Armia line has little scoring touch. If anything can be learned from the Pittsburgh Penguins recent cup runs it’s that depth scoring can put a team over the top.

Trading from Need

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 09: Petr Mrazek
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 09: Petr Mrazek /

The Philadelphia Flyers were in a pickle in their goaltending department. Yes, I know they always are, but even more so now with both Brian Elliot and Michal Neuvirth out with injuries. So it was a no-brainer when they acquired Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek who had fallen out of favor in Detroit. This fills an immediate need for the Flyers who are 3rd in the Metropolitan and looking at a postseason series this year. If they did not want to drop out of the standings like a lead balloon in a very close and competitive division they had to do something fast. Credit GM Ron Hextall with shoring up his team.

Trading from Strength

The Bruins strengthened their defensive core with depth acquisition Nick Holden.
OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 17: Nick Holden /

The Bruins acquisition of Nick Holden is not filling a hole. Instead, it is a prime example of how a playoff team can tweak their lineup in small ways to make themselves better. The Bruins have the best defense in the league right now with a 2.42 goals-against-per-game average. Why mess with that? Because your best defenseman is going to be 41 next month and tends to get tired in long playoff series'(See the Chicago-Bruins SCF.) Holden has been playing over his head on the first pairing in NY with Ryan McDonagh. But that also means he has seen 20 mins a night against quality competition. Getting a depth option that can take minutes off of Zdeno Chara‘s shoulders leaves the team in a better spot come April.

The Bruins lose a 3rd rounder and a prospect that would never have cracked the line-up in Boston outside of massive injuries. They acquire an experienced defenseman who can play both sides, play on both special teams, and can handle large minutes against quality competition. This move may turn out to be key in the postseason for the Bruins.

What does that mean for the Jets?

The Jets, like the Bruin’s, are not trading from need but from strength. They do not have any holes they desperately need to fill (unless Steve Mason & Michael Hutchinson don’t recover from their respective concussions.) Not making a deal will still leave the Jets with a quality team. However, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can improve his team by adding another forward and defense option to give his team much-coveted depth.

Depth Wins Championships

Rolling 4 lines against a team wear them down while resting your lines evenly. Scoring depth on the 3rd and 4th lines can make the difference in a tight series (IE: Phil Kessel.) The NHL postseason is as much a battle of attrition as it is a contest of skill and teamwork. Injuries will happen. So that means a team needs options to be able to move players up the lineup and still have them produce. That last thing you want to see is a Stanley Cup quality team crumble in the playoffs due to key injuries. So what are some of Winnipeg’s cheap but valuable options?

Mark Letestu

Hockeys version of the 5-tool Player, Mark can play in all situations well. He would be an upgrade at center on the 3rd or 4th line and would give the Jets depth. He can play any role and plug any hole that may open for Winnipeg.

Ryan Spooner

If the Bruins add a forward this week, it’s Spooner’s spot at 2nd line forward that’s most likely to be replaced. The fast offensively gifted forward has never quite fit in along Bostons line-up outside of the power play. He would be a good scoring winger option while improving the Jets PP.

Derek Ryan

Similar to Spooner, Ryan has good offensive instincts and power play prowess. He has performed well at all levels and would be a good veteran depth option to the Winnipeg Jets.

Adam McQuaid

The longtime Bruin is known mostly for his ability to throw down. But “Darth Quader” is also a solid gritty veteran defensive depth option. He can seamlessly plug into the lineup during injuries.  Or even when they need a bit more muscle to protect guys like Connor and Laine.

Johnny Oduya

The veteran shutdown defenseman has good instincts and locker room presence. The solid depth acquisition on defense would also not be expensive on the salary cap.

Gustav Nyquist

The Detroit forward has both skill and solid offensive ability. Great skater, good hockey IQ, and can be a playmaker. Would give the Jets instant veteran offense.

Frans Nielsen

A Selke mention throughout his career, center Frans Nielsen is a surprising +1 on an underperforming Red Wings team. Known most for his 50% career shootout percentage, he is a whopping 3 for 5 in shootouts so far this season. Adding him to a Jets team that has struggled in the extra frame would be a key upgrade. However, at 33 with 4 more years at a 5.25m cap hit this move would require some salary dumping to work. The long-term commitment also does not make long-term sense for Jets.

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Benoit Pouliot

The speedy two-way veteran can be a fourth line scoring threat like he was with the Bruins and is now doing with the Sabres. Would fit in well as a 4th line wing that can play on the PK as well as a defensive role.