5 things to watch as Winnipeg Jets battle Arizona Coyotes
The Winnipeg Jets finally posted a win on Wednesday night. They beat the almost equally desperate Vancouver Canucks 4 to 1. Paul Maurice's lineup adjustments really paid off. The trio of Drew Stafford, Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault combined for nine points. Saturday night's game against the team formerly known as the Phoenix Coyotes — and also formerly the Winnipeg Jets — will be a tough match up.
The Arizona Coyotes are 10-8-1 for 21 points and third in the Pacific Division. In November they are 5 - 3 and have won games against Los Angeles, Anaheim and the Montreal Canadiens who have only not gotten a point in four games this year.
Jets 1.0 vs Jets 2.0
Now that Winnipeg has an NHL team back it always seems to be extra special when the former franchise plays the new franchise. Against the Arizona Coyotes the Jets are 2 - 1. Before Arizona changed their name from Phoenix, the Jets were 4 - 1.
Scheifele gearing up
Up until Wednesday night against the Canucks, Scheifele had only two points in the month of November. Eight games and only two points. He had started the season off looking like it could be a breakout year and then November came and cooled him and most the Jets off.
Maurice took action and put rookie Nikolaj Ehlers on a line with Alexander Burmistrov and Chris Thorburn, bringing up veteran Stafford to play with Mathieu Perreault and Scheifele. The move clearly paid off and the line looked dominant against Vancouver. If Scheifele can keep the momentum going from his three-point night he could get right back on track for having a career best season.
It's not totally accurate to say this is a home coming but Coyotes forward Max Domi has spent some time calling Winnipeg home, although he probably doesn't remember much of it. Max is the son of former Winnipeg Jet Tie Domi, born in Winnipeg but grew up in Ontario after his father got traded to Toronto.
Shane Doan was the last first-round draft pick that the first incarnation of the Jets drafted. The Jets drafted him seventh overall, four picks ahead of Jarome Iginla who got picked by Dallas. Doan played one full season in Winnipeg getting seven goals and 10 assists. He has played his entire career with the Jets/Coyotes franchise.
Doan has gone on to have a hall-of-fame worthy career, with 907 points in 1,413 career games. He is so dependable, he barely misses games and has been a loyal leader that has stuck through all the ups and downs that the franchise has faced since arriving in the desert.
Cheveldayoff on Hamonic
Watching a general manager isn't normally something fans do during a Jets game. The work general managers do is mostly on the quiet side and often under the radar. Once in a while though something gets out of the hockey circles and gives fans a window into the world of what managing a hockey club can be.
Just this week it came to light that New York Islanders defenseman and St. Malo, Man. native Travis Hamonic had requested a trade to a Western Conference team. Hamonic spoke to reporters on Thursday about it and said there were personal family matters and that he wanted to be closer to his family, who live here.
The request had been made in the off-season and is just coming to light now. It really complicates what was likely an already tough situation for the Islanders and possibly for Kevin Cheveldayoff too. The Islanders don't really want to trade Hamonic. He's a great player, quality person on and off the ice and has a really decent salary cap. The Jets have a bunch of right-handed defenders and don't necessarily need to improve that side, but if a player specifically wants to play for your team, you have to look and see what could make sense. Especially if it's a player of Harmonic's caliber.
It gets tougher for Cheveldayoff because even though the Islanders will be looking to accommodate Hamonic they won't want to hurt their team's chances of winning games in the process. So they'll want a lot in return. Which makes it even tougher to find a deal that works for both sides, and given that the trade request was made months ago, if there was an easy deal to make it would have been made already.
It has some similarities to the Evander Kane situation Cheveldayoff found himself in, albeit for different reasons. But that situation was further complicated by the fact the Kane was injured and wouldn't play until the following season following his surgery. Somehow Cheveldayoff was able to find a willing trade partner and a deal that made sense for both sides. In the world of salary caps though, a contract's term and salary matter almost as much as the fit and ability of the player, sometimes more.
There are some past trades that are of interest when looking at what a possible deal might need to look like for both sides to pull the trigger. When Martin St. Louis wanted out of Tampa Bay back in 2014 because Tampa GM Steve Yzerman initially didn't have him on the Canadian roster for the Olympics, it took Ryan Callahan who was a pending free agent at the time and three draft picks to make a deal happen with the Rangers.
When Colorado finally traded Ryan O'Reilly, they packaged him up with a depth forward for two high-end playing young guns; 2012 first round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko, and 2013 first round pick Nikita Zadorov, plus another prospect and a second round pick.
More recently Boston traded away young defensive stud Dougie Hamilton for a first round pick and two second round picks. This past off-season the Islanders traded away one of their own defensive prospects in Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for two draft picks.
No doubt while the rest of us are watching Saturday night's game, cheering at the highs and booing the lows, Cheveldayoff will be watching, taking it all in, analyzing and trying to sort out if there is anyway to use this Hamonic situation to make his club better. Take a glance up to the press box. Is he on the phone? Does it look like he's enjoying the game or working hard?