The Winnipeg Jets and a little trade deadline speculation
The best part about this time of year is the speculation.
With the NHL trade deadline coming up fast, it works like this: hockey watchers frantically placing values on players and comparing those player values to other players and their values, and then there's the value of draft picks and retained salary and…
Unless you're a general manager in the middle of the action, no one really knows anything or can predict with absolute certainty what's going to happen between now and Monday. Heck, judging by some of the moves made over the last week, some of the GMs don't know what's going on either.
For the Winnipeg Jets, who dropped a 4-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday afternoon, there's not much left to hold onto this year but the potential surprise a trade deadline brings.
- RECAP | Carl Hagelin, Penguins top Jets
A lost season like the one the Jets (26-31-4) have constructed would see calls for change or, at the very least, put everyone involved on notice.
Under this scrutiny, should Kevin Cheveldayoff — himself also under the microscope after another year of unfulfilled expectations — be exploring additional changes to his roster in the coming days?
Outside of maybe Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler, there are no untouchables. Or maybe everyone is untouchable — who knows?
In the spirit of the speculative season, here are a few intriguing names on the current roster; players with question marks attached to them in the not so distant future that could see some value on the trade market:
1. Mathieu Perreault
Perreault is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-17 season.
The 28-year-old has nine goals and 34 points in 60 games. Of his nine goals, only three of them have come at even strength — which is surprising, considering the reputations he holds as a dynamic, offensive player in these parts.
Perreault had 18 goals in 62 games last season.
You already know what he can do: he can play up and down the Top 9 in any position, and he can assist in directing a power play. He'd be a useful addition for any club with aspirations beyond the first round of the post season.
More importantly, at least as far as the Jets are concerned, Perreault has another year on his deal, at a $3-million cap hit. So not only is he a relatively cheap option in the present, he's also a piece a club could add for next year — a combination that should be worth a little more than just a straight rental player.
2. Drew Stafford
Much like Perreault, he's under contract for another year (at a $4.35-million cap hit), and it's debatable whether this stability would be a positive or a negative on the market.
The 30-year-old doesn't have the same roster versatility as Perreault and while his ability to score goals (16 in 57 games) has been nice, there are simply too many nights, too many stretches when he goes unaccounted for.
A late round draft pick — is that fair value?
The hope on moving Stafford is contained in the fact one never knows what some NHL GMs are thinking. That's the beauty of this time of year.
3. Jacob Trouba
Obviously, the return would have to be huge.
Obviously, the Jets would prefer to get the 22-year-old defenceman under contract at a reasonable price point for a long time.
That's where the uncertainty lies with Trouba, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Jets hold a lot of the cards in this negotiation, but that doesn't mean it will be easy.
Earlier this season, a report circulated pegging Trouba's initial contract demands to be in the $56-million range over eight years. That's a lot of scratch, and while that reported ask will get whittled down to a more practical number for Winnipeg over time, just what that number will be remains to be seen.
The Jets are already investing over $13-million in cap space on Byfuglien and Tyler Myers next season. Both, like Trouba, are right-handed shots and can eat up a lot of minutes on the Jets blue-line.
That's a lot of dough and a lot of potential in one specific area of the ice. Can too much of a good thing actually be a bad thing?