By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
The NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away and it’s shaping up to be a busy period for not only the league, but potentially – and for the first time – the Winnipeg Jets as well. That is, if you believe all the hype.
Combined, the Jets have 10 pending unrestricted and restricted free agents. A couple have little value on the market, but to teams on the cusp of a Stanley Cup, the Jets have a few key cogs on their roster that could make a good team great. For deadline cap space the Jets are projected to have about $5 million according to CapGeek.com, so there is room to take on the right player(s) at the right price.
Here are five players the Winnipeg Jets could consider moving by this Wednesday’s (March 5) trade deadline.
5. Michael Frolik. Arguably one of the best players on the Jets squad this season, keeping Frolik is going to come at a premium in the offseason for Chevy and Co who will become a restricted free agent. If the Jets think they can lock down Frolik for the foreseeable future over the summer, he won’t be dealt, and the Jets would be crazy to let such a talented, hard-working player leave.
Chance of departure: Low
4. Mark Stuart. Throw all the advanced stats you want at Stuart, but his gritty play is the dream of many coaches and general managers around the NHL. It remains to be seen if the Jets would welcome his services back; he comes at a reasonable price tag and is a mentor for young Jacob Trouba. He’s not the flashiest guy on the ice, nor the most productive, yet he is a decent shutdown defenceman on the Jets third pairing (if they can find someone to play with Trouba on the second line).
Chance of departure: Medium to low
3. Dustin Byfuglien. Some in this city would start a small uprising, but if Chevy can get what he thinks is a solid return, seeing him pull the trigger isn’t out of the question. Maurice has led on that he likes the big, 6-foot-5 defenseman/rightwinger, and he is certainly a fan favourite. But his on-ice effort, especially in his defensive role, leaves a lot to be desired. Couple that with the fact that out of all the players on the team that Chevy would consider moving, Byfuglien represents the best return out of all of them.
Byfuglien has a modified no-trade clause. He can submit up five teams to which he would be willing to join.
Chance of departure: High, if the price is right.
2. Olli Jokinen. He just won a bronze medal in Sochi, but Jokinen’s age is showing. Now 35, the Finn’s best years are miles behind him. It’s likely that if Jokinen took a pay cut, Chevy would be more than happy to sign him again. His outstanding attitude is obvious in the locker room, and for a young guy like Mark Schiefele, Jokinen is a great mentor. Jokinen and his family also love living in Winnipeg.
Jokinen won’t be back for $4.5 million a year. Not a chance. If he is unwilling to take a decrease, Chevy will use him as a tool to build for the future. Jokinen has a modified no-trade clause.
Chance of departure: Medium to high.
1. Devin Setoguchi. “Underachieved” and “underperformed” are words that have often been used to describe Setoguchi’s play this season. Sure, his effort level has increased under Maurice, but for a pending UFA, the thought of trying to recoup even the smallest of returns must be tantalizing for Cheveldayoff.
Setoguchi came to Winnipeg for a second-round draft pick last summer, and while no team in their right mind would offer that for his services this time around, getting a late-round pick is more than enough to off-load the former 30-goal scorer.
Chance of departure: High