The Winnipeg Jets Would be Wise to Focus on the Penalty Kill

The Winnipeg Jets are now no longer playoff rookies. This core has had two runs, and unfortunately, didn’t manage out of the first round the second time. But they’re working on it.

The Winnipeg Jets need to improve their special teams. Their powerplay was fourth in the league, and that’s with a clearly-less-than-100% Patrik Laine. I’m not particularly worried about the powerplay.

But they ranked 22nd in the NHL in the penalty kill, ahead of only one other playoff team: The Washington Capitals, who also fizzled out in the first round.

Winnipeg allowed five powerplay goals in that first round series, and only netted three. I’m not sure that’s the reason they lost, but it certainly doesn’t help. Beefing up the penalty kill should be a priority for this Jets team, and it’s a fairly easy one to address.

Penalty killing isn’t exactly a skill that pays in free agency. At least not well. The obvious thought is that they should bring back Brandon Tanev, seeing as how he’s one of the better killers on the team, and perhaps its best shot-blocker.

We’ve been over that already. Plus, they just were 22nd overall with him in the lineup. So, regardless, improvements are needed. Especially if Tanev slips away in free agency.

So what are we looking at? Well, plenty of veterans known for their PKing. Carl Hagelin is due for a pay cut but can kill with the best of them, even now. Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula as well, and they’d both be solid bottom six pickups.

I’m sure the Coyotes would be open to moving Michael Grabner as well. Mats Zuccarello is also a free agent, but he’s more than just a penalty killer.

As for the blueline? Ben Lovejoy is out there, and old. But hes still useful in shorthanded situations. What would I do? Try to see what Hagelin would cost. If it’s too high, pivot to Filppula and Boyle. In reverse order, actually.

After that, I’d call Arizona about Grabner and the New York Rangers about Jesper Fast (who the organization loves but they’re probably open to moving just about anyone). Fast would be a priority as a speedy youngster who can shoot a little bit, and is an excellent forechecker and killer.

Boyle is sturdy as always but doesn’t skate very well. A Hagelin-Fast combo would be a really nice bottom six pickup for the Jets. Add some speed and some grit. See where it takes you.