Why The Winnipeg Jets Were Winners On Deadline Day

The Jets stood pat and did nothing at the NHL Trade Deadline — but is that really a bad thing?

On the weekend, I wrote an article where I said I suspected the Jets might be buyers at the deadline and listed five players I thought they should go after.  Two of those five players ended up being moved, but neither of them to Winnipeg.  In fact, the Jets didn’t make a single move.  But was it really wise to do NOTHING when you’re a hockey club on the cusp of making the playoffs?  Perhaps some added players can push you into the playoffs?  Once you’re at the dance, can’t anything happen? While this is all true, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made the right decision to stay idle on Monday.

Sometimes I feel trade deadline day should be renamed “Overpay for Rentals Day.”  There were some good deals to be had this year (I think Vegas got a steal of a deal on Robin Lehner and the Oilers did well to get Andreas Athanasiou for as little as they did) but for the most part, the deadline lived up again to my suggested name.  Maybe the biggest name moved, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, went to the New York Islanders for a first, second AND a third-round pick.  That’s a heckuva lot to give up for a guy who has never cracked 50 points.  The first-round pick is top 3 lottery-protected but I can’t imagine I would ever be able to sleep at night again if I gave up the fourth overall pick for flippin’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau.  He did extend in Long Island for another six years at five million per, but still.  Speaking of New York and extensions, the other big name on deadline day, Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers, wasn’t traded after agreeing to a seven-year deal worth 6.5 million annually.  That is such a Ranger contract.  Both Kreider and JGP’s contracts have the chance to become albatrosses.

Anyway, I’m glad Chevy didn’t do any of THAT.  There were also some other silly trades on Monday such as Carolina giving up a first-round pick for Brady Skjei.  That’s a bit much to give up for someone who has mostly been terrible this season.  In my opinion, the worst trade of the day was Tampa Bay essentially giving up a first for Barclay Goodrow.  I thought I might have undervalued Goodrow a bit when I said he might be able to be had for a mid-round pick, but a first is utter lunacy.  He has 24 points this year, and that’s the most he’s ever had at 26 years of age.  I have no clue WHAT Tampa is thinking.  I feel Chevy should get a pat on the back just for staying away from that nonsense.

Now, you may be thinking I’m being a bit of a homer here. Congratulating Chevy just for doing nothing?  Well, yes.  After giving up a combined two first-round picks, Brendan Lemieux and prospect Erik Foley over the past two deadlines for rentals, it has to be a positive to have retained our first selection in this year’s draft.  If the Jets falter down the stretch, the pick could end up being pretty high.  The Jets simply were not in a position this year where any big rental piece would put them over the top.  Even adding a guy like Pageau or Athanasiou probably doesn’t make us anything more than a bubble team still.  The risk of giving up future assets this year far outweighs the reward.

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Yeah, you would’ve like to have gotten a guy like Athanasiou for as cheap as the Oilers did, but we don’t need any help on the wing (in fact, we have an excess of skilled wingers) and they still gave up assets for him.  We can’t afford to trade assets for something we don’t need.  Tyler Ennis, who I mentioned in my article on the weekend, went to the Oilers as well for only a 5th-round pick (man, the Oilers did WELL this deadline).  That’s an extremely reasonable price, a steal even.  I would’ve liked to have gotten him for that, but it’s not the end of the world.  Ennis isn’t a world-beater so I can’t fault Chevy for holding onto his magic beans instead.  The Jets did find Connor Hellebuyck in the 5th round, perhaps they can hit it big again?

The Jets weren’t completely dormant this week.  The Dylan DeMelo trade was a steal. The Cody Eakin trade was okay.  Both are players who can help out a bit this year, and they didn’t cost much.  I’m not sure Eakin will be back but I really think Chevy will try hard to re-sign DeMelo.  He could be a solid piece to our D corps, and he’s been good thus far. Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk, and DeMelo in your top six is a good start.  Ville Heinola, Dylan Samberg, Sami Niku, Leon Gawanke Johnathan Kovacevic, even Logan Stanley could be pieces for us.  2018 5th round pick Declan Chisholm is absolutely ripping up the OHL right now with the Peterborough Petes.  The future of the Jets defence is not that bad.

By holding onto his first-round pick, Chevy has essentially ensured a “win” for the season.  If the team goes on a run and makes the playoffs, great.  We’ll get more exciting playoff hockey to watch and our (still young) roster will gain more needed playoff experience. If the Jets falter and miss the playoffs, well then our pick is that much better.  I’ll take a closer, more in-depth look at some draft options as the draft approaches and our pick becomes more clear. We should be able to snag a really good piece with our pick this year, much better than 20-something games a guy like Pageau would’ve brought to us.

So, while Chevy may have bored us on Monday by not doing anything, he actually did do something efficient.  Sometimes, the absence of an idiotic move is enough to rule something a success.  With that, Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets had a successful trade deadline.

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