The Winnipeg Jets have gotten off to a very hot start, but the losses up front are beginning to pile up. The injuries to Nikolaj Ehlers, Mason Appleton, and Morgan Barron have led to several call-ups forced to fill bigger shoes.
With the popular “US Thanksgiving” mark rapidly approaching, the Jets might have to look externally to help piece together a better offensive group. With several teams looking to add a defenseman, perhaps the Jets could tap into their logjam as a way to tackle two problems at once. They can add more offense while working to clear the logjam that has caused several problems over the past two seasons.
The Winnipeg Jets might have to look externally to help piece together a better offensive group.
With the Jets recently announcing that Ehlers will be undergoing sports hernia surgery, they expect to miss the electrifying winger for several months of the season. Having only played two games this season, his offensive game has been missed.
During his absence, the top line has relied heavily upon the talents of both Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele. Scheifele and Connor account for 15 of the team’s 50 total goals this season, which is quite indicative as to how top-heavy this team can be.
The 50 goals the Jets have scored this season is ranked 27th in the league, signaling a somewhat starved offensive game. The Jets winning ways are largely thanks to timely scoring and limiting their opponents to only 41 total goals, which is second-best in the NHL. A large portion of that is thanks to the outstanding play from Connor Hellebuyck, but at some point, the team needs to give him some goal support.
Many are opposed to this, but the Jets need to identify who among their defensive group could fetch a good return while also not dealing a massive blow to the team. It’s a difficult question, but some options stand out.
The Jets would be wise to check in with the Vancouver Canucks, who appear set on selling off some of their most talented contributors. While it would most certainly require a decent size return, the need for a high-level forward should be a priority.
Brock Boeser could be the best shot at a reasonable deal that benefits them the most. With the Canucks making it clear that several of their players are available, this could work to be the best target in terms of what they’d get in Boeser. The 25-year-old is off to a slow start this season, but as a four-time 20-goal scorer, he’s bound to pick it up.
In terms of a return, the Canucks will most certainly look to upgrade their defensive group. Without going into the chaos that is draft picks and prospects, a deal could be struck surrounding both Boeser and Neal Pionk. This has been scoffed at a few times on Twitter, but could actually be the makings of a great deal.
The Jets would be adding a player who could immediately slot into a top-six role and help to boost their offensive game. It could also help to shuffle things around to gain a better shooting presence on the second powerplay unit, which is desperately needed.
The price wouldn’t be as high as what a Boeser deal would command, but he would still add a lot to the Jets. His scoring talent isn’t as notable as Boeser’s, but he’s still a consistent offensive contributor that could slot into the Jets’ middle six to allow for some more flexibility.
Garland, 26, is among several Canucks having a slow start. His 52 points for them last season was a career-high, and he was looking to follow that up with another strong year. That may still be in store, but perhaps a change of scenery could be needed to make that happen.
Meier is perhaps the most interesting name on this list, as he is a restricted free agent that’s due a massive qualifying offer at the end of this season. If the Jets find interest in acquiring the Swiss forward from the San Jose Sharks, a priority must be to sign him to a deal to avoid the qualifying offer.
That said, Maier is coming off a season that saw him record a career-high 76 points in 77 games. He would be an unreal impact addition for the Jets and could slide in anywhere in the top six.
Like Boeser, the return would be costly, but his status as a pending RFA could lower that a bit. That being said, the Sharks are also very light on the back end and could benefit from a defenseman coming back.
An option for the Jets to look at would be a deal that sends Nate Schmidt the other way. While both his on-ice and off-ice presence would be missed, his contract would not. Schmidt is set to earn $5.95 million for two more seasons. The Jets would likely have to retain some of the contract because the Sharks are tied into their old core, but some retention makes the deal more palatable.
When Will it Happen?
Nothing appears imminent, but it could be expedited if any of the Jets’ big guns fall into any sort of slump or if yet another forward goes down with an injury. It’s easy to say that the Jets don’t need to be hasty in terms of making a deal, but it’s also important to address needs when they arise.
The Jets have a wealth of depth on the back end and need a forward to fill one of the many holes that have opened in the first month and a half. Will they address it through trade? It seems like the best option, but as of right now it’s up to the internal options to do their best to keep this team near the top of the central.