The Winnipeg Jets went hard at the deadline, going for a big fish and several small fish. It was surprising to see them be so active, but they know their window won’t be open forever.
It’s not ideal to keep trading your first round picks for rentals, but the Winnipeg Jets know they need to really go for it while their window is still wide open.
And Kevin Hayes is a really great fit for this team, who needed a second line center that could really push possession. Hayes is just that. And while he didn’t score in his debut, a big reason the Jets wanted someone like that was to help Patrik Laine.
Laine, if you’ll recall, has been ice cold. Painfully so. He went fourteen games without a goal and scored one in a stretch of 21 games. Well, I guess he was excited for the deadline, as he’s now scored in four straight.
And while he did score with Hayes on his line, the Jets still fell to the Minnesota Wild. That’s after leading 2-1 with about 90 seconds left. It’s also the fifth loss in six games for the Winnipeg Jets. Not great!
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They’ve fallen to second place in the Central, a point behind the Nashville Predators, but they’re now fourth in the West, also behind Calgary and San Jose.
The Jets next game is against Nashville, but the schedule is tough. Afterwards, the Jets will see Columbus, Tampa, San Jose, Washington, Boston and Calgary all in the next two weeks.
Losing Josh Morrissey and Dustin Byfuglien for that period is not ideal. Joseph Morrow is also out. In addition to dealing a first rounder and Brendan Lemieux (addition by subtraction, am I right?) for Kevin Hayes, the Jets also swapped Nic Petan for someone called Par Lindholm, reacquired Matt Hendricks from the Wild and added defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Bogdan Kiselevich, who I am not ashamed to admit I’d never heard of.
A 29 year old rookie from the Florida Panthers doesn’t exactly garner too much national attention, sorry guys. But Beaulieu is a steady blueline addition and Hendricks improves the defense and depth on the bottom six.
Cheveldayoff didn’t sell the farm, but it’s clear the Jets know this could be their best shot at the Stanley Cup. If they don’t go and get someone like Kevin Hayes, how could we believe they want to win? This isn’t baseball. Teams gotta show you they want to win. Winnipeg has done just that.
Will it work? I sure as hell hope so. Hayes is a good fit, and pushing incumbent Bryan Little down the depth chart improves the third line, theoretically.
This also pushes Mathieu Perreault to the fourth line, which severely improves that aspect of the team as well. With him paired with Jack Roslovic and Andrew Copp / Matt Hendricks and the third line of Brandon Tanev / Adam Lowry / Little, the forward group for Winnipeg is incredibly strong and deep.
The defense could use some work. Mostly just health. Beaulieu is nice but he’s not a top pairing guy, but with Byfuglien and Morrissey out, he has to be. Kulikov shouldn’t be in the top four either, and Ben Chiarot and Sami Niku don’t inspire immediate confidence.
While I am interested in what Niku can do, Paul Maurice doesn’t appear to share those feelings, and I’ll trust him for now. But if everyone gets healthy, a third pairing of Beaulieu and Morrow / Niku / Kulikov could be plenty. The Jets needed defensive help. They got some. That’s not even mentioning Kiselevich.
This team can turn it around, and hopefully will. They shouldn’t be losing to teams like Ottawa (TWICE), Minnesota or Colorado. These are non-playoff teams and Winnipeg has to win these games. At least we can rest a bit knowing the front office is making sure they’re equipped to do so.