Trade questions swirling: 5 things to watch as Jets prepare to face Stars
The Winnipeg Jets head into the last week before the NHL trade deadline closer to the bottom of the league than a playoff spot. The Jets sit just four points up on Toronto and Edmonton from the basement of the league standings.
So while the Jets ponder what kind of team they are and management ponders which direction to move, the Stars come into Winnipeg in an absolute dogfight for the top spot in the Western Conference with the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues.
Here are five things to watch for ahead of Tuesday night's game:
Jets captain Andrew Ladd is less than a week away from finally having some questions answered.
If there is no middle ground in terms of salary and term between Ladd's camp and Jets management, Tuesday's game against the Dallas Stars could very well be the last time he dons a Jets jersey at home.
Will the real Ondrej Pavelec please stand up?
Jets starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec has played three games since his return from a November knee injury.
His first two starts were good, especially considering he hadn't played a game in two months. He posted a .995 save percentage in the Jets' 2-1 shootout win over Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 13, and he kept the Jets in a 2-1 loss against the Hurricanes in Raleigh a few nights later.
The Jets' 6-5 loss in a shootout to Tampa Bay doesn't fall squarely on Pavelec's shoulders — he was left guessing on a few of the goals with not enough support, but he got absolutely undressed on the Alex Killorn goal. And Nikita Kucherov scoring around five minutes left in the third, after the Jets had clawed their way back to a 5-4 lead, was a dagger to Jets faithful.
If Pavelec had made that save, he'd be a hero. Instead, it's Steve Stamkos that's the hero.
You have to wonder which Pavelec is going to show up down the stretch: the one that makes brilliant game-changing saves or the one that just misses being clutch.
Other deadline deals on the table?
Once the ball drops on the Andrew Ladd situation, it could signify big changes for this organization — a shift toward opening more opportunities for the prospects in what some think is one of the strongest pipelines in the league.
If the Jets do move in that direction, it begs the question if there could be more deals at the deadline.
If the Jets are looking to deal away more, it isn't likely going to be from the core. But with $6.7 million a season being committed to Byfuglien, does Jacob Trouba needing to be re-upped fit into the budget for the blue line?
There was speculation that in the summer, the New York Islanders wanted to trade Travis Hamonic for Trouba. Alexander Burmistrov had come back to North America this season and while he maybe hasn't had the offensive contributions people thought he was capable of, he's shown that his gifted skill set works well in a defensive role.
Then there is the often-talked-about Tobias Enstrom, the highest-paid Jet this year with a cap hit of $5.75 million. There isn't a ton of depth on the left side, where Enstrom plays a big role, but with all that salary and more coming to the back end next year, the Jets could be looking to shed that salary.
Enstrom does have a no-trade clause, but that doesn't stop management from asking. Pavelec too, has one more year on his current deal, the Jets have Connor Hellebuyck waiting in the wings, and Michael Hutchinson is still only 25 years old and will be an RFA this summer.
The Jets might want Pavelec for one last season as an insurance policy for their young keepers, or they might find a fit for him in a team like Carolina, which appears to be walking away from Cam Ward. They will potentially only have Eddie Lack heading into next season.
Some of the deals might be better timed at the NHL entry draft, but it will be interesting to see what unfolds this week.
Mathieu Perreault signed with the Jets as a free agent in 2014. That signing proved to be one of the best value UFA signings from that free agent pool.
Perreault has 76 points as a Jet and costs the team $3 million a season. Paul Stastny signed that same summer for $7 million a season and has notched one less point for St. Louis. Matt Moulson, Ales Hemsky, Mikhail Grabovski all signed for more money and haven't contributed as much as Perreault has.
On top of his value, Perreault continues to be versatile playing anywhere he's asked.
Centre Bryan Little is going to be a game-time decision on Tuesday night. If he can't go, expect Perreault to slide back under centre and once again be a bigger piece for this team than Cheveldayoff had bargained for.
Twenty-three-year-old Swedish defender John Klingberg is taking the NHL by storm. Called up from the AHL last November, he piled up 40 points in 65 games last year.
This season, he's amassed 10 goals and 48 points in 60 games. He's third in points for Dallas and third in the league among defencemen, behind only Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns.
His older brother Carl didn't have as much success at the NHL level. Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers, Carl played only 12 games for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise before being dealt last year ahead of the trade deadline to the Rangers for Lee Stempniak.