“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
The 23-year-old impish teenager was right – life moves pretty fast. For the Winnipeg Jets, exceedingly so.
Titanic levels of ship jumping are upon us, but unlike the titular movie, the band is eerily quiet. PLD has confirmed the inevitable and has requested a trade out of Winnipeg. Rumors quickly followed that Hellebuyck is similarly disinterested in re-signing with the Jets.
One can only speculate if Scheifele and Wheeler are manning the lifeboats in preparation for a similar departure.
Despite having advocated for a Winnipeg Jets rebuild, being ostensibly rejected twice in the span of 48 hours stokes certain small-market insecurities. This feels akin to getting picked last for dodgeball with a dash of spurned lover for good measure.
In the end, though, recent events provide clarity of direction. The Jets’ hand has been forced, so what do we make of these disgruntled brethren?
Hellebuyck rumors (once confirmed) should force Jets management into a rebuild. No trade package for Hellebuyck will include a Vezina finalist in return, so for a team heavily reliant on goaltending – their competitive advantage has been neutralized.
At the risk of aggrandizing, Hellebuyck has become the proverbial Atlas to the Winnipeg Jets world. I don’t doubt that Cheveldayoff and Chipman harbor designs to turn Hellebuyck into win-now pieces, but to what end? Most teams in the market for an elite goaltender (New Jersey, Edmonton, etc.) are not positioned to give up core pieces to procure one.
Regardless of any trade windfall, having endured the Ondřej Pavelec era, Hellebuyck will be sorely missed. Reliable goaltending is a luxury seldom afforded to NHL teams. As stated previously, Hellebuyck has arguably been the best goaltender in the NHL over the past half-decade.
Jets fans will miss the eye-darting and steely demeanor. His presence both on and off the ice should be celebrated and memorialized with reverence.
PLD’s trade request marks the second time the 24-year-old has sought greener pastures in his 7-year NHL career. PLD’s entourage has endeavored to provide the Jets with a list of 5 teams he’s comfortable signing long-term with, a departure from the monomania once possessed for Montreal. It still puts the club at a market disadvantage as 31 trade partners are always better than 5.
Perhaps unfair speculation, but PLD seems comparatively prone to whims and fancies. From the inconsistent play to the constant geographical malaise – PLD strikes me as a young man still finding his way. It hurts to lose the potential of what PLD could become, but it is cathartic to get closure on a player who was reluctant to make Winnipeg his home (depot jokes aside).
With Patrick Laine signed for 3 more years in Columbus, we can confidently give the Blue Jackets the upper hand on the Laine/PLD swap. Although Laine has settled into cromulence the past few years, his talent is still incandescent, and the CBJ’s control the asset.
It’s tough however to fault the Winnipeg Jets (too much) for wanting to prolong PLD’s tenure in Winnipeg. Outwardly though, the most available narrative is that the Jets appear to be operating reactively, as opposed to proactively. The Hellebuyck and PLD news might be the result of protracted negotiations – but that message has not been communicated publicly.
@WPG_Chief on Twitter summarized the possible next steps for the Jets nicely:
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I agree with all 4 predictions – meaning the next domino is Mark Scheifele. With Wheeler in his twilight and an uncertain future, my prediction would be that Scheifele is shopping for suitors as well. His camp has been silent, but any trade demand makes a rebuild all but inevitable. In the end, it’s time for the Jets to make some bold moves – or, as Ferris puts it “only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.”